I’ve been bemoaning the lack of classic Cantonese restaurants in the Philadelphia region on here, but there is a place that is only about 15 minutes from me that fits the bill pretty well. The lack of foil-wrapped chicken on their menu takes a little of the luster off from my perspective, and I was not happy with their Shrimp with Lobster Sauce the last time I ordered takeout from them. But I decided to give them another shot today for lunch with another friend and former colleague, and am glad I did.
Da Chen of Prospect Park, Pennsylvania, which is a southwestern suburb of Philly, has the right look for an old-school 70s-80s style Chinese restaurant and – the foil-wrapped chicken notwithstanding – the menu to match.
I was very pleased that we were presented with crispy noodles, duck sauce and a pot of tea almost as soon as we sat down at our table. That was standard when I was growing up, but is less common nowadays.
Our lunch platters included soup. My dining partner, Pete, went with hot-and-sour, while I opted for wonton. Although you can’t see them in the photo, there were a few strips of roast pork in there; something else that was more common in the days of yore.
One of the main reasons I decided to eat at Da Chen today was my craving for an old-school PuPu Platter. I was a little skeptical that it would be presented in classic fashion with a hibachi in the center. I needn’t have been. I always get a kick out of heating my beef-stick over the flame.
I’m posting a separate photo of the shrimp toast that was included as a hat-tip to my friend and frequent blog commenter, Brad. He is the biggest shrimp toast fan I know.
If there was one disappointing aspect to the PuPu Platter, it was that it included spring rolls instead of egg rolls. I have a strong preference for the latter.
As if that wasn’t enough of an appetizer selection, Pete also ordered fried dumplings. I tried one and have to say I’m glad he got them.
We each ordered old-school entrees. Pete’s was General Tso’s Chicken, while I had Sweet & Sour Shrimp. The sauce was excellent. As is often the case, the shrimp were small compared to the breading that encased them. I enjoyed the dish nonetheless.
We were mighty stuffed by the time we finished our entrees, but there is always room for fortune cookies.
After having written Da Chen off for a few years following the bad takeout experience I alluded to previously, I’m now very happy to have them as a nearby option. They haven’t seen the last of me.