China Gourmet is an unexpected gem of a Chinese restaurant located Northeast Philadelphia. It doesn’t serve your typical Americanized version of Chinese cuisine. Instead, it caters to a large developing Chinese neighborhood by serving traditional Cantonese dim sum and other specialties.
Early in 2018, the restaurant moved from its old location on Bustleton Avenue. The new location is very large and seats almost 400 customers. It is located East of Roosevelt Boulevard and South of Cottman Avenue in a small strip mall next to an Asian market. Unlike many restaurants in center city, ample free parking is available.
The atmosphere is full of energy with bustling wait staff and customer conversations. The owners, Salina Ko and her chef/husband Ming Fung, have together created a gourmet paradise where the patrons sit at linen covered tables and beckon servers pushing carts between the aisles laden with dumplings, chicken feet, bowls of congee and various specialties.
It’s not just that China Gourmet is the largest authentic Chinese restaurant in Philadelphia; it is also excellent in many other ways. This is due in large part to Ko’s hospitality and her watchful management of the dining room. It is also because Fong is a rare chef-owner who has paid his dues and has assembled a skilled kitchen staff who excel at preparing dim sum, a vast à la carte menu featuring light sauces and Cantonese cuisine, barbequed meats, and seafood. Simply put, there isn’t a better Cantonese dim sum anywhere in the city.
I have visited China Gourmet many times. Each time I have enjoyed their hospitality and delicious food. I could probably go every day and order a different item from the menu for months on end. There are dozens of choices for dim sum and all of them are good. Translucent white skins of hand-pleated Har Gao dumplings nestle inside small metal containers. Deep-fried shrimp balls are wrapped in crispy golden ribbons of noodles. There are shrimp and pork shu mai, sesame buns, beef rice rolls with vinegar, fish filled chili peppers, egg tarts, various dumplings, sticky rice and much more.
Dim sum is the main attraction and is served daily from 9:30 to 3:00 p.m. The dinner menu features a host of specialty items from Fong’s kitchen. The Peking duck is a masterpiece featuring tender flavorful pieces of boneless duck wrapped in a brown crisp of skin and served with sweet hoisin and scallion threads. There is a large variety of Cantonese seafood including succulent stir-fried lobsters in a ginger-scallion sauce or a variety of other styles. There are also such items as escargot, eel tossed in black bean sauce and live shrimp sashimi. The variety is almost endless. This is cooking like you might find in mainland China. It is not the usual Americanized Chinese fast food.
On my recent visits, I have enjoyed dim sum items such as Sesame balls, Shrimp shu mai, shrimp with spinach dumplings, shrimp-stuffed hot peppers, and blood jelly. These were all very delicious. My bowl of congee was fragrant and filled with ground pork and topped with fresh scallions. My entrées were a delicious stir-fried lobster with ginger-scallion sauce, beef with broccoli, and fried squid with salt and pepper. China Gourmet also offers a large assortment of dim sum desserts. My Chinese-born companion was overwhelmed by the sheer number of dining options and claimed them all to be authentic.