Lau Kee Chinese Restaurant in Philadelphia’s Chinatown has long been a bustling hub for both locals and tourists seeking authentic Chinese and Cantonese cuisine. Located in the heart of the city, it has been a popular destination for those looking to satisfy their cravings for ginger steamed chicken and won ton mein.
However, the once-vibrant atmosphere has been dampened as Chinatown experiences a significant decline in visitors. The ban on organized tours from China and the suspension of flights have resulted in a drastic decrease in tourist dollars flowing into the area. Unfortunately, this decline is not limited to tourists from China alone. Unfounded fears surrounding the Coronavirus have discouraged many Americans from venturing into Chinatown, further impacting the local businesses.
During my visit to Lau Kee in early January, the restaurant was teeming with activity. The doors opened early, welcoming patrons with an array of breakfast dishes that catered to both Chinese and American preferences. The streets were bustling with tourists and families, joyfully indulging in multi-course meals and sharing plates brimming with delicious food. The ambiance was vibrant, with the sounds of laughter and conversation filling the air. However, the current circumstances have transformed the scene, leaving only a few diners, like myself, to savor our well-prepared meals in solemn silence.
Despite the challenges, one advantage of visiting Lau Kee and Chinatown in Philadelphia is the availability of free parking, a rarity in comparison to other bustling cities like Washington, D.C. Finding a good parking spot just a few blocks away allowed me to easily access the restaurant and immerse myself in the flavors of authentic Chinese cuisine.
While tempted by the sight of the roasted Peking duck hanging by the front window, I decided to stick with my usual order on this particular visit. The steamed chicken, as always, proved to be tender and juicy, albeit slightly saltier than before. The roasted pork, on the other hand, offered a delightful combination of sweetness and crispiness. I highly recommend ordering at least half a pound and savoring it with a delectable dip of hoisin sauce.
As I pondered my next visit to Lau Kee, I couldn’t help but wonder about the future. Will the restaurant regain its bustling charm as patrons return to Chinatown, or will the circumstances prevent me from even entering the doors of this beloved establishment? Only time will tell. Nonetheless, my fond memories of Lau Kee and the flavors it embodies will continue to draw me back, eagerly awaiting the chance to support this culinary gem and embrace the cultural tapestry of Philadelphia’s Chinatown.