Thursday, December 07, 2006

Far East Feeding Frenzy

Like in most major US cities, Philly's Chinatown is like stepping into another world. It has its own pulse, a heartbeat that seems to race faster than the rest of the city. Maybe it's the MSG.

China-town probably isn't an accurate description of the area, as the influences span the entire Far East, from Chinese, to Thai, to Indonesian and my most recent food exploration, Malaysian. But I guess the Chinese get the recognition, maybe because they were first to arrive on US soil? I'll have to research that one.
Choosing a restaurant in Chinatown can be intimidating, as there are so many that look alike and offer similar menus. But on a friend's recommendation we discovered Penang, a pearl of the east right here in our little corner of the western world. Penang offers an exploration of the culinary delights of Southeast Asia, which incorporates a diverse variety of flavors, spices, meats, veggies, and seafood. There are even a few items that are so unusual and authentic that they note on the menu for patrons to please "ask advice" before ordering.

Penang has locations in other cities, and I got the impression from my fellow diner who had been to the DC outpost that Philly's disappointed a bit in the atmosphere department. But upon second glance we all decided we quite liked the rustic decor, which was designed to invoke the traditional street-side vendors of the restaurant's namesake Malaysian state. And as a cash-only operation, it didn't hurt that the prices were not that much higher than one would find in the street stalls either!

Penang, 117 N. 10th St., 215-413-2531

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