Philly – Friday Night Feast

Just when I was ready to leave for Baltimore to pickup my Amazon load, I found a load going from Sterling, VA to West Deptford, NJ paying three times as much. Typically, I don’t like to cancel a few hours before pickup time, and Amazon penalizes us with a bad grade, but this was a no brainer.

So after delivering the loaded trailer with carts, I headed to Philly. There was no parking at Penn Landing, so I made a bee-line to Chinatown, where there was.

I was in the mood for something spicy so Four Rivers was the most enticing stop.

I ordered Dan Dan Noodles also known as spicy Szechuan noodles. True to its name, it was spicy & sour and a bit too oily for my liking. Every time I slurped a few strands of buckwheat noodles drenched in ground pork and chili, I would redecorate my shirt like tie-dye.

Contrary to what you may think, the dish is not named after Chef Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese in NYC. Instead “Dan Dan” is the carrying pole that street vendors in the Sichuan province use. They place the ingredients, bowls, chopsticks & cookwares in two baskets tied to each end of the pole. They cook and serve the noodles in the street whenever stopped by customers. What started in small towns throughout Sichuan is now a popular Szechuan dish enjoyed by Szechuan fanatics everywhere.

After dousing my tongue in ice cold water and wiping off my chin of Sichuan pepper and chili oil, I was ready for Round 2. I heard about Dim Sum Garden. Not just any garden variety dim sum hot spot that has sprouted all over this city, this local eatery serves the real deal. Head chef Shizhou Da is the 5th generation of the original mastermind who concocted the Xiao Long Bao in Shanghai 200 hundred years ago and came to the US in 2003 to reproduce the same culinary experience in Philadelphia.

Going straight for the signature dish, I tried the pan-fried beef dumpling appropriately paired with a couple of ice-cold Tiger beer from the place I had grown up – Singapore.

Even though it was closing time, the tables outside were still packed with casual diners chowing down on dumplings while sipping adult beverages like summer wouldn’t end. The weather had cooled to a temperate 70s and there was a fresh breeze coming from the landing.

After an enjoyable meal in the sidewalk patio, it was time to head back to the cozy comfort of my truck. But first an unplanned detour – to visit my friend Jay at Hong Kong Bakery.

“Long time, no see, how’s business?

“Challenging, but we’re hanging in there. A lot less foot traffic this summer. Many nearby offices are still closed and the horde of tourists are almost non-existent.”

“Yeah, sorry to hear. Hope you hang in there. Glad the Phillies are playing tough.”

“Thanks Bro. We’re back to our regular late hours now and the rowdy night life is slowly coming back.”

I got my usual egg tart for dessert and Jay recommended I try the Pineapple Colada to sweeten the deal.

It sure did the trick. It had a combination of light and dark rum and a healthy splash of coconut milk.

The cocktail was not too sweet, delicious and creamy and best part quite tropical on a midsummer night.

Finally after hopping around Chinatown, I was stuffed and buzzed. Was glad to return to my truck on 9th and Race and call it a night.

A dismal ticket from the Philadelphia Parking Authority greeted me upon my arrival.

$36 – not bad to park my rig a block from Chinatown for a fabulous night out in Philly. Better pull out by 8am or else risk getting another one. And don’t forget to pay it within three weeks or it will double.