From Paris to China

The PIFA Street Fair was in town today, taking over Broad Street from City Hall down to Lombard Street. It was a gorgeous day; a little breezy, but cheerfully sunny. Qingxin and I were hoping to find some delicious Parisian street food, casually stroll, maybe shop for some European wares.

It was more like a version of Penn’s Spring Fling, open to the Philadelphia public. Broad Street was jam-packed, leaving little room for strolling. While some of the music performances sounded pretty good, there were very few vendors with non-edible items for sale. I also don’t think there were 40 food vendors present. Maybe 10, 15 at the most? The crab cake sandwiches from McCormick and Schmick’s and the filet mignon sliders from The Capital Grille sounded tasty and smelled delicious, but the lines were INSANE with very long waits.

So we had to change our late lunch/early dinner plans. After capitalizing on Borders’ store-closing sale (which I’m very sad about! Borders is my favorite bookstore and I can’t believe they’re shutting down this 3-story location), we ventured through Reading Terminal Market on our way to Chinatown. While here, Qingxin grabbed a pretzel from Miller’s Twist (and found out about their frequent buyer card for the first time! This place will get a proper review in the future). We also discovered an excellent deal at Beiler’s Bakery: their end-of-day special! It was about 4:30 pm, and they were selling EVERYTHING for $2.00 each. The two of us split a six-pack of cinnamon buns and a loaf of glazed peach bread.

“While we didn’t eat all the buns and bread while on this Center City run, we ate them over the next few days. I had never seen peach bread before and thought the idea was neat. A lot of the loaf’s flavor was on the topping, but the fruit wasn’t infused so well. It was very “bready”; maybe it would have tasted better if it was toasted. As for the cinnamon buns, it tasted really good after being heated in the microwave for fifteen seconds. I liked eating it with cream cheese, which also added more depth to the “breadiness.” Overall, Beiler’s earns a ★★★ from me. Qingxin, on the other hand, had the following comments: “Beiler’s was a letdown. Their sign advertised their famous sticky buns, but even Cinnabons are better than their cinnamon sticky buns. Both the buns and peach bread were very doughy and did not have enough sweetness in them. The sticky buns only had a tiny swirl of cinnamon sugar inside, and the peach bread had some icing on the outside. I would definitely not pay full price for either the bun or bread, and I would even have to think about buying them at the discounted price that we paid. ★★1/2”

With that, it was onto the streets of Chinatown! A quick stop at Heung Fa Chun Sweet House, where Qingxin picked up a cup of sweetened soy milk (a steal at $1.00), then a hop next door to Empress Garden. I’m not sure where we heard about this recommendation; however, it was a restaurant in Chinatown that we hadn’t tried yet, thus fitting in with the PFF goal to try every restaurant in Philly! We split the Shrimp Lo Mein ($8.50).

I thought the portion was pretty generous. It was the perfect amount to feed two people. I enjoyed the taste of the dish. The shrimp were quite plump and meaty It was a little oily, but when is authentic Chinese food not? Qingxin found the noodles “flavorful, with a good thickness.” She “did wish there was more shrimp in the dish, though.” Both of us considered Empress Garden to be ★★★1/2.

On the way back to the trolley, we made another stop in Reading Terminal so I could grab a few cookies from Hope’s Cookies (the best cookies I’ve had in Philadelphia! But again, that’s a review for another time).

Beiler’s Bakery ★★★
51 N 12th St
Beiler's Bakery on Urbanspoon

Empress Garden ★★★1/2
108 N 10th St
Empress Garden on Urbanspoon