We’ve been talking a lot about the best Philly neighborhoods around here lately, and I love that. Whether you’re new to the city or have lived here forever, neighborhoods are something relevant to each and every one of us. I’ve shared my picks for my favorite Philly neighborhoods for new residents, but the fact is: there are so many other hoods Philly ladies just like you live in and love coming home to that are not on that list. So, to give you all a more inclusive look at what the city has to offer for young women, I reached out to some of my blogger buds, blog readers, and Twitter followers to share why they love their Philly hoods.
Earlier this week, I shared my Philadelphia apartment hunting tips. Today, I’d like to give my response to the other question I get most frequently: where should I live? Picking your first Philly neighborhood is such a treat, because this city is known for its special, unique hoods. We truly do have a place for every human and every budget here, but when I’m recommending a place for a city newcomer, I typically stick with a select few. If your neighborhood is not mentioned here, don’t worry – I’m working on another piece featuring some Philly ladies repping their hoods – all over the city! (Keep reading if you’d like to be involved!)
Exploring Philly neighborhoods is really the best. Since Mt. Airy is such a unique area of our city, I love getting a chance to pop up there, while, of course, eating all of the delicious food they offer. Some bloggers, foodie folks, and I took a little media tour last week in preparation for the neighborhood’s upcoming event, and I’m pleased to report that Center City certainly does not hold all of the great food our city has to offer.
Happy almost weekend! If you’re just tuning in, earlier this week, I began documenting my Philly Chinatown tour, led by the super knowledgeable Albert Lee. So without further ado, let’s go on with the second part of our tour!
Tea-Do (132 North 10th Street)
Due to my longstanding love affair with bubble tea, a shop was one of my requirements for a stop on Al’s tour. Tea-Do has so many options to choose from, ranging from tea with milk and tapioca bubbles to fruity tea with aloe and lychee jellies. If you’ve never had bubble tea, you drink it with a huge straw which sucks up the little “bubbles” in your drink. It’s basically amazing.
Each tea comes with a plastic seal over the top, and you have to stick the pointy end of your straw through to get to the drink. That was probably the most stressful part of the day. 😉
Shanghai Bazaar (1016 Race Street)
With bubble tea in hand, we moved on to this humongous bazaar, filled with everything from toys to books to jewelry & more. I didn’t look much at the prices of the the items, but there was definitely a plethora of goodies to choose from.
Joy Tsin Lau (1026 Race Street)
After some shopping, it was finally lunch time! We hurried in the crowded restaurant for some dim sum, which is basically small sized portions of food served in steamer baskets or on small plates. Al explained that dim sum is to the Chinese as tea time is to the British. Our only restriction was no duck (my request), and Al quickly ordered for us off of the wizzing trays filled with food. We tried lots of different things, but I loved the shrimp dumplings & fried rice the best. Lunch for four of us, including tea & dessert, and until we were literally stuffed, ended up being $27. If that’s not a gem in this city, I don’t know what is.
Lucky Chinese Cookie Factory (155 North 9th Street)
Our last stop was a quick visit to the fortune cookie factory! You can go in & see the cookies being made (so cool!) and pick up a bag of “X-Rated” cookies to take home with you. They also do custom cookies for events & weddings.
That stop signaled the end of our tour. We had sipped, shopped & chomped our way through Chinatown, and I can confidently say I will be back!
I hope this blog inspires you to break out of your comfort zone and explore a new neighborhood or two. Thanks again to Al for being a great tour guide, and my friends Kelly & Colleen for braving the chilly temps with us! If this type of neighborhood tour is something you’re interested in seeing more of, let me know in the comments & I will find a new Philly hood to explore next!
Remember, Chinese New Year starts tomorrow. Get the details on all the Philadelphia festivities & have fun! xx
Let me start off with a confession: I have lived in Philadelphia for two and a half years, and until earlier this month, had never stepped foot in Chinatown. That’s right, I said it. Sure – I was intrigued by the promises of bubble tea and supermarkets filled with cute little odds & ends I shouldn’t be buying, but I was just, so . . . intimidated. Where would I go? How would I know where to eat? Would I be able to navigate by myself? Would I be in the way?
With the nearing start of Chinese New Year (this Friday!), I thought it was about time to expand my horizons and venture to the other side of the arch. I enlisted the help of Philly’s resident Chinatown expert, Albert Lee, to host our “#ChinatownUncensored” tour, grabbed my two best girlfriends, and off we went!
I invite you to come along with with us on our tour. First stop . . .
Chinatown Arch (10th & Arch Streets)
We met up with Al at the most iconic spot in Chinatown, the arch. This structure was the first authentic Chinese gate built outside of China in 1984. Those four letters on the gate read, conveniently, “Philadelphia Chinatown.” If you’d like to take a photo with the gate, I recommend doing it from farther up 10th Street & getting the other side – traffic seems to always be moving on this side.
At the gate, we also got our first glimpse of these little street designs. They mean prosperity, and are all over the town’s sidewalks.
KC’s Pastries (109 North 10th Street)
After learning all about the gate, we headed down the street for our first taste of some Chinese treats. This pastry shop had so many options to choose from, it was so hard to decide. If you’re craving coffee, now’s the time to grab a cup – coffee is only sold in bakeries, not restaurants, around here.
I opted for this little 90 cent red bean sesame ball. I happen to love red bean, but even my friend Colleen, who thought she was eating chocolate, enjoyed it. 😉
Gyration Boutique (125 North 11th Street)
Next, we swung over to a new local consignment shop and one of Chinatown’s only retail stores. The boutique does not sell plus size or maternity clothes, but the store was beautiful and, according to Al, a very welcomed addition to the area.
Asia Supermarket (143 North 11th Street)
I was possibly the most excited for our stop in this Asian supermarket. If you’re looking for wall-to-wall rice, ramen & tea, plus some other colorful goodies at a great price, you’ve found your happy place.
This tea caught my eye – maybe I’ll be back for some luck in my love life in the form of tea.
After about an hour and a half of exploring, our day was off to a great start!
A big thank you to Al for showing us all of the places to be in Chinatown. Stop back later this week for part two of our day (bubble tea, dim sum & more shopping, of course)! If this made you crave some exploring yourself, you can get all the details on Philadelphia’s Chinese New Year celebration plus more from the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation.