The Return of Dine-In at An Old-School Favorite

Relative to how it was during my youth, there aren’t that many old-school Cantonese Chinese restaurants remaining in the Philadelphia region; a fact that I’ve bemoaned here several times. So when an alarming number of those that were still around remained closed to dine-in service – only offering takeout – well after most other restaurants in the area that survived the pandemic had returned to normal, it was an important issue for me given my fondness for eating at such establishments.*

One of those that remained closed was Asian Taste Inn of Huntingdon Valley, PA. It’s close to where I grew up, but not where I now live. However, I’m up in that direction every week to visit my father and was excited when I discovered online a few days ago that they had reopened for dine-in service in early June. In fact, I had barely processed the information when I emailed my step-mother to make plans to go there for lunch when I make my next visit. 

Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania
A very welcome sign

We arrived early on a Tuesday, so it wasn’t surprising to see the place was empty. I hope they’re doing better business at night and stick with it. On the bright side, the lack of other diners made it easy to take photographs of most of the dining room.

Asian Taste Inn

As you can see, while the restaurant sits in a fairly typical suburban shopping center, it has a classic Chinese restaurant interior – with the addition of a sushi bar. 

It was comforting to go through the old rituals, like tea in a metal pot and fried noodles with duck sauce and mustard. 

My step-mother ordered shrimp with broccoli from the long list of lunch specials that come with fried rice and a choice of soup. She opted for wonton. 

I wanted Sweet & Sour shrimp and had to order it off the dinner menu, as it wasn’t offered as a lunch special. And as I have so many times over the years, I started off with an egg roll. 

The egg roll was very good, with the crust being crisp and having the texture that I have loved for roughly half a century. It also had little bits of roast pork mixed in with cabbage and any other chopped vegetables that may have been in there. 

And the wonton soup had the strips of pork that were commonplace years ago, but far less so nowadays. 

Mixing a little hot mustard into the duck sauce is my own person ritual at Chinese restaurants.

My step-mother seemed content with her shrimp and broccoli lunch plate.

I was initially less than thrilled with how my Sweet & Sour shrimp were presented; with the sauce on the side and nary a pineapple on the plate. 

Shrimp with broccoli and pork-fried rice
Sweet & Sour shrimp before I rearranged it.

But I quickly got to work in portioning the sauce out over each shrimp and then prepared a plate with several of them over a pile of rice. While it didn’t make me forget the Sweet & Sour shrimp from the glory days of the defunct Imperial Inn, my long time favorite in Philly’s Chinatown, it was still an extremely satisfying lunch. This dish is pure comfort food for me. 

At least half of the shrimp were eaten later as part of my dinner.

It was good to be back. I hope to have similar experiences at a few more of the Chinese restaurants that have held off on returning to dine-in service in the not-too-distant future. 

*I have no data on how many Chinese restaurants in the Philadelphia region have failed to return to dine-in service since the pandemic hit. I’m merely going by my personal experiences, and I’ve run into it at what seems like a fairly high rate.

Published by BZ Maestro

I live outside of Philadelphia and have been food-obsessed for as long as I can remember. After toying with the idea of starting a blog for a fairly long time, the extinction of a food-themed message board that I frequented for years prompted me to finally take action. Thank you for taking the time to check out what I've been up to - and eating. If you've enjoyed what you have read and seen, please consider clicking the "like" button and signing up as a follower.

3 thoughts on “The Return of Dine-In at An Old-School Favorite

  1. I don’t recall you ever saying much about having soup at the Chinese restaurants you’ve visited. Is it something you don’t usually have?


    1. I’ve had soup at Chinese restaurants plenty of times over the years. But I think my appetite has shrunk as I’ve gotten older, so I’m less likely to get the whole nine yards: Soup, appetizer and entree. And if I’m cutting one of those out, it’s going to be the soup. I like wonton, but unless I’m feeling under the weather, I’d almost always rather have an egg roll.


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