#3 in the list of my Philadelphia “Must-Visits” (Yes, I’ve been eating out a lot), is Penang. It can be found on 10th and Arch. It is a Malaysian restaurant in the Chinatown area of Philadelphia that I first visited back in 2002. For a vegetarian, opening the menu there can be disheartening until one learns that almost everything on can be made in a “veggie, no meat” option. Upon being seated, you are given a pot of hot herbal tea and small, oriental porcelean cups. Upon closer inspection, a lot of the menu has Indian and Thai influence. Try the Roti Telur and Roti Kanai for apetizers, but make sure to tell them no meat. Main courses can be chosen from a variety of fried and drunken noodles, or rice dishes that are delightfully flavored and suit the Indian palate. It is great escape from the normal mild and almost flavorless American food found everywhere else. I think my absolute favorite part of the meal is the end – when they bring out sliced oranges or “mosambi” that clears the mouth of all the other taste of the night and leaves one with a wonderfully clean, slightly sweet flavor.
MadMex is my second nomination for a Philadelphia “Must-Visit”. It’s official address is 3401 Walnut Street, but it can actually be found at 35th and Movarian, a tiny street that is not really a street between Sansom and Walnut. It is in the University City area and is generally crowded with college kids. Its got great specials, including half-off food at various times during the week. A large selection of beer and great margaritas are always available. And to top it off, the food is excellent. I’ve been there several dozen times in the last 7 years I’ve spent in Philadelphia. I’ve been there for a few memorable birthdays and other occasions where things have got — somewhat out of hand. When I’m looking for great Mexican food, MadMex is my top choice.
Rim’s Cafe in South Philadelphia is the first on my list of Must Visit locations in Philly. Strangely, I was introduced to it by a person visiting Philly for the second time and even he stumbled upon it. It is too good a place to be kept a secret, but it is also too good a place to be unknown. It is a block north of the intersection of 9th and Passyunk a stone’s throw from Pat’s and Geno’s.