Saturday, August 30, 2014

Guest Post: Road Trip: SangKee Asian Bistro — Greater Philadelphia Area

Sacha here! You might remember me from Erin's review of Pho 54. I am also known as @zigged.

Our 2014 family road trip took us east to visit my dad in New Jersey + enjoy adventures in Ocean City, MD, and New York City. The itinerary I planned included stops at restaurants that are reported to be culinary gems. This time: SangKee Asian Bistro.

To be honest, I didn't find this one on any list (although its website says it was voted Best in Philadelphia Magazine 2006). It was suggested by a college professor of mine that we planned to meet for lunch. Of the few choices he offered, this one looked the best.

The Huz, The Kid, and I all got the bento box lunch special ($13), which is a choice of three items. We all chose shrimp with fresh garlic sauce as the main item, which was fantastic. Tail-on shrimp, snow peas, mushrooms, carrots, asparagus, and maybe a few other things all tossed with an umamilicious sauce.

He got jumbo lump crab cake and chicken hot & sour soup as his other two choices. The Huz is a big fan of hot & sour soup and he said this one was excellent.

She got pan-fried chicken dumplings and ginger & scallion noodles as her other choices. She liked them both but the dumplings more. I wish I had gotten a taste of them. I tasted the noodles and they were good but not like we expected—skinny and a little dry when we thought they would be more like lo mein noodles.

I got jumbo lump crab cake and veggie fried rice as my two other choices. The jumbo referred to the crab meat and not the crab cake, which was small but very delicious. Lots of lumps indeed. It was sitting in a little puddle of sweet chili sauce that was a good accompaniment. I was very happy with the fried rice, too.

The Honorary Kid got sweet and sour chicken with white rice on the side because she wanted to go with a known. The chicken was more tender + a bit crispier on the outside than standard take-out and came dressed with the sauce (as opposed to having it on the side), which was brighter and tangier than standard take-out. I didn't expect it to be delicious, just passable, but it was outstanding. She couldn't stop talking about how much she loved it. If you are an unadventurous eater of Chinese food, or have someone in your party who is, this is a solid choice.

Dr. B, who is apparently a regular, got what he called the house special soup. (I assumed the menu would be online for reference later and it's not, so I'm relying on what he said.) When I asked him what was in it he said, "Everything leftover from last night." <shrug> It looked delicious—veg, meatballs, dumplings, etc.—and he loved it, so there you go. It reminded us of phở in that it was a big bowl of broth with a treasure of things floating around in it. I'd give it a shot.

The restaurant is in a strip mall with an unassuming storefront but the décor and ambiance are very nice inside—clean, bright, modern. Dr. B said they recently expanded into the space next door so business must be doing well. Service was good. I liked that there was a specific, laminated menu for the bento box lunch specials that listed everything in words on one side and photos on the other. We all enjoyed the tricolor fortune cookies too.

If you find yourself in Philadelphia and you want authentic (read: mysterious) Chinese food then I suggest you take your chances in Chinatown. If you are in the suburbs, though, or near the University City location, then this is a good alternative, especially if you're not up for a risky culinary adventure. Days later we were still talking about how much we enjoyed this meal.

SangKee Asian Bistro
339 E.Lancaster Ave.
Wynnewood, PA 19096
610/658 0618

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