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Sang Kee (University City)

Wow – I think I gained 5 pounds this weekend. And it was thoroughly deserved. I ate so much, that I’m going to have to write it up in multiple posts.

Just in case it takes a while to get to everything, I’m going to make a note of what’s to come –

Last Friday
Sang Kee’s grand opening
office Holiday Party (eh, probably doesn’t deserve a post. There was food.)
Food Blogger Pot Luck

Last Saturday
friend’s birthday party with a scotch tasting

Last Sunday
Yum Cha not in chinatown

Okay, so there I was a few years ago visiting friends at Bryn Mawr College, and they suggested (even though they are many excellent food options closer) to drive 20-30 minutes toward the city to show me Sang Kee in Wynnewood. And, yes, it was absolutely worth the drive – with many small plate options that are delightful and prepared perfectly and served in an relaxing, elegant setting. Of the larger plates, my favorite is their stuffed eggplant (shrimp & pork) in black bean sauce.

And then maybe a little over a year ago, I discovered the original location in Chinatown and gave them a whirl. I ordered familiar dishes and found them right in line with the other location (the stuffed eggplant slightly better, the garlicky greens slightly too salty) and plenty fresh, but the atmosphere was no where near as nice – crowded, loud, and I ended up dining in a weird auxiliary upstairs room that was bright and better suited to a corner cheesesteak joint. So I figured I’d stick with Wynnewood occasionally.

But! But now there’s a location in west philly! I first found out about it from Fries With That Shake, but I also heard that she was a bit underwhelmed. Undaunted, I hopped on over there for lunch right away.

Okay, so lunch was disappointing. Instead of trying my favorite dishes, which were on this same menu, I was seduced by the $9 lunch box special. The salad had real greens, instead of iceberg, but it was generic dressing and too much of that. The vegetarian dumplings would have been amazing if they had been served separately, but they had toughened up a bit from being served at the same time as the rest. The eggplant and beef was good, but not exceptional. They continue to be brilliant at buttery, delicious eggplant, but the sauce was too heave and the beef might as well not have been there for all the character it added to the dish. And I was intrigued by the stir fried rice noodle option, instead of getting the rice, which would have dealt better with the abundant sauce. They were tasty, but not the right thing for this lunch. So a solid meh. Still, I wish to go back and try the proper menu.

And then last Friday, I heard that they were having a grand opening event with free food! Wheee! So I dropped everything and hopped on over even though I had two other food events that same day. And you know how I mentioned that they excel at small dishes freshly prepared at their other location? Well that’s kind of the antithesis of feeding masses of people off of steam tables. So even though they put a lot of work into the day, it ended up coming off as no better than any other passable chinese restaurant. Seriously – large batch scallion pancakes? Those are best piping hot, not room temperature. So new good news yet, but I shall be going back again.