Nan Zhou is a neighborhood joint in Philly’s China Town. It’s a quaint place, but the food is ohmagoarshuhmazing. Try it. You wont be disappointed.
Appetizer: Coconut Curry Chicken Dumplings
Holly called this “whitey-bait” and I don’t know how I feel about it. It is true that coconut curry chicken as a dumpling filler is in no way a traditional filling, but at the same time it was a perfectly cooked dumpling. They asked me if I wanted steamed or fried (and I laugh in my head at the thought of steaming anything) and they were perfectly cooked and crisp.
What a bowl of soup. Despite the temptation of rice flake noodles, we both went with the eponymous hand drawn noodles which were aces. The broth was really flavorful and satisfying without being overly fatty. Hooked up with chili oil and soy sauce, we spent 15 minutes just slurping noodles in foodie silence.
Culturally challenged beware: it may be extremely hard to eat with the utensils given (Chinese soup spoon and chopsticks. Josh is a noob with chopsticks. Holly rocked it). Also know that there will be bones in the duck, and the beef tendon is really gelatinous and chewy. This is part of the enjoyment of the food!
This is probably one of the best examples of classic Asian restaurants trying to look “designed.” Basically, it was the same wooden chairs and cheesy Asian “art” on the walls, combined with what seems like a ubiquitous love for neon thanks to the blue lighting accents in the ceiling. But really, the design doesn’t matter here. I don’t give a damn about ambiance when it take 5 minutes for my food to arrive and I’m too busy eating to notice that the place isn’t pretty anyway.
The Overall Experience
You know a place is going to be great when it’s hoppin’ at 2pm, and the only people there are ethnically and culturally the “proper” eaters of the food being served. We were the only white folks there, until when we were about to leave and a strange middle-aged dude came in and tried to sound like he knew what was up as he ordered half the menu. (One of the servers was eating her lunch, and he asked her what it was, to which she replied “wonton soup” although clearly there was some kind of nasty-bits meat in it, possibly some kind of testicle. I think she made the right choice in telling him to order something boring).
Very, very affordable. Dumpling were $6 for eight medium to large sized dumpling and our giant soup bowls were $8 a piece as well. If you want a good, affordable lunch in China Town this is definitely a place we would recommend.
Overall Experience: 5/5
Will We Visit Again: Yes. Couldn’t keep us away if you tried.