I Dare You to Find a Hole in the Wall Restaurant Tinier than “Chinese Restaurant”

Right next to one of my Chinatown favorites, Empress Garden, is a completely missable spot that truly exemplifies a “hole in the wall”. I don’t know what possessed me to walk in to Chinese Restaurant after walking by it so many times but I am glad that I did. The tiny menu consists of soups and a few snacky things for you to take out. Or you can do what I did and sit on a stool at the counter or at one of the 3 small tables available. The small space and steady stream of customers makes it easy to point and ask for “whatever he is having.”

For $5.50 (the highest price found on the menu), I ordered the duck noodle soup, which comes with flat noodles as opposed the round noodles you find at Nan Zhou. The soup was huge and had pieces of greens and mushrooms in it, but was not itself very flavorful. I added a lot of the vinegar, soy, and sriracha that was provided. The meat in my soup that was supposedly duck could have easily been beef, it was a little strange that I couldn’t even identify it…. but I ate it anyway. Overall, the soup was cheap enough and fit the bill of a hearty, warming lunch, though not the best thing to get at Chinese Restaurant.

Before I sat down, I noticed a tub of a cream colored gelatinous mush, “turnip cake?” I asked. No, but quite close. They make taro cake here and fry large triangles of it for a mere 60 cents. Both taro and turnip cake have a wonderful savory flavor matched by a unique mushy texture. The outside is fried to a perfect crisp, but it isn’t too greasy to make you feel guilty for not sharing your piece. Whether you have never tried either before, or if you are already a fan, throwing a bit of your change at this snack is recommended.

An order of fried dumplings was also a success. Theirs are stuffed fat with pork and cabbage, and not actually completely fried as expected but steamed and pan fried resulting in a really pleasing dumpling skin. The order of 5 cost only $3.

The easily missable, teeny tiny Chinese Restaurant might be a little intimidating when everyone around you is a regular and knows what to order -I sat next to a mother and child duo who managed to inhale their dumpling order in an impressive 2 minutes. But I didn’t feel at all uncomfortable placing my order and chomping down on my dumplings right next to them. It is worthy of a stop for their fried snacks as long as you are aren’t claustrophobic.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • Super cheap and super fast lunch
  • Delicious taro cake and dumplings
  • No chance of running into anybody you know

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • I am claustrophobic
  • The noodle soup is bland and the meat is hard to identify

Chinese Restaurant, 104 N 10th St (@ Arch St), 215-928-0261



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