Friday, March 22, 2013

Heung Fa Chun Sweet House

112 N 10th St
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 238-8968

This is the type of place I love to find: Mom-and-Pop owned, hole-in-the-wall, with some surprisingly good food. I find it hard to believe that I am the only person who is taking pictures in Chinatown sometimes, but people are always surprising me.

This is a small, slightly cramped, totally chaotic little shop. It can be intimidating, so it helps if you know what you want ahead of time. First, you need to pick sweet or savory. I obviously went savory, but don't get caught sleeping on the sweet soft tofu, it is delicious.

First up was a salty tofu. It is carefully arranged and topped with a garlicy sauce, peanuts, and scallions.

The rest ended up being an order of lo mein, and two banana leaf wrapped pork and peanut gelatinous rice dumplings.

The salty tofu is incredible. Pronounced dou hua, its silken texture coupled with the variety of toppings and a squirt of spicy, vinegary hot sauce is a match made in heaven.

The pork cruellers or "zong" were an interesting approach, with a seemingly impenetrable fortress of solidified rice (at least with the supplied plastic silverware) encapsulating the delicate ingredients hidden underneath.

It was a bit like breaking open a pinata, and getting to the good stuff inside. The pork was nicely flavored, slightly salty, and the chewy rice capsule tasted just fine with a squirt of chili sauce. Note, don't shake the chili sauce too hard or it will end up all over your shirt and pants. Or so I have heard.

The lo mein, was just fine. Nothing out of the ordinary, but definitely satisfied. The barely cooked pieces of cabbage added a nice textural crunch that kept it from feeling overly oily.

One weird thing happened, and that is that my dining companion went to wash their hands, and while I was busy reading work emails, her phone disappeared. She came back accusing me of hiding it, then we looked everywhere in the tiny shop, sure it was stolen. After the owner watched us look everywhere, he handed it over and said a customer found it. It was sitting next to me at the counter, so we were both confused. But the phone was returned. I felt like I was being hustled out of something, but all ended up right in the world, and my bank account has not yet been transferred to a Nigerian prince who just needs enough money to pay the tax on his riches.

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