Restaurant Review: A Second Taste of Asia

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Classes have ended, and most Swarthmore students are taking a short breath before finals begin. This is the perfect time to take a break from it all and head into Philadelphia. Before going out to dinner on a date or with friends, be sure to consult the Daily Gazette’s restaurant reviews for recommendations. This installment is a collection of Asian restaurants in Philadelphia, all easily accessible from Swat via Septa‘s R3. Good luck with finals and have a great break!

Karma $$
Karma is my favorite Indian restaurant at the moment and keeps getting better with every visit. It has a convenient location in Old City, with comfortable seating and atmosphere. As always, Indian food is vegetarian friendly and great for sharing in a large group. Though not necessary, reservations are a good idea. The friendly wait staff will proudly recommend dishes if you are not very familiar with Indian food. I would recommend the matar paneer and mango lassis as some of the best I’ve ever had.
114 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA

Palace at the Ben $$$
I usually distrust restaurants located in hotels, five-star historic places or no. Despite this, Palace at the Ben proved elegant and delicious. The food is exceptionally seasoned, preserving flavors that many Indian restaurants overwhelm with curry sauce. The wait staff is very professional and most seating is private and perfect for dates. All this comes at a price, which usually sends me elsewhere except for special occasions.
834 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA

Ariana Restaurant $
Also located in Old City, Ariana Restaurant is a cozy place with a mom and pop feel. The Afghani cuisine is delicious, with clear ties to my favorite Indian dishes. The pumpkin and yogurt dish was delicious, despite my usual dislike of cooked squash. The menu has enough variety to please a variety of tastes and also merits a second visit. The desserts and samosas are highly recommended.
134 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA

Suzanna Foo Chinese Cuisine $$$
I visited Suzanna Foo’s during restaurant week last year. Despite its reputation, high price, and all the trappings of fancy dining (including a coat room which lost my scarf), I was not overly impressed. The Asian fusion menu was interesting but not distinctive. The butternut squash soup with caramelized breadcrumbs was delicious though. Suzanna Foo has class, but I can only vouch that it’s not worth it during restaurant week.
1512 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA

New Harmony and Kingdom of Vegetarians $
These nearly identical restaurants are operated by the same family and–as evidenced by their website–are no fancy dining. Still, this isn’t Cheng Hing. Order the dim sum. Period. Round up all the friends you have and for ten dollars a piece they’ll feed you more delicious vegan Chinese food than you can possibly eat. Even with groups as large as twenty people, you have to fend off the waiters to stop them from bringing out more food. The dumplings and scallion pancakes are highly recommended.
135 N 9th St, Philadelphia, PA
129 N. 11th St, Philadelphia, PA

Vietnam Restaurant $$
Vietnam is a good standby and a nice location to take visiting family or a date. The three floors offer a variety of seating with the second being my favorite. Reservations are a good idea for prompt seating. The rice vermicelli and spring rolls are exceptional. If you like sweet rice, the desserts are also worth getting.
221 N 11th St, Philadelphia, PA

Aoi $$
This is a good place for sushi that also has a decent selection of other dishes. The restaurant is sparsely decorated with drapes of sumo wrestlers and curious murals (Dali goes to Japan?). If you like sushi, Aoi is conveniently located, has lots of choices, and is reasonably priced.
1210 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA

Let us know where you would like the Daily Gazette to review restaurants. Also, location/cuisine recommendations are welcome in the comments!



  1. Somewhat off-topic but, “I usually distrust restaurants located in hotels, five-star historic places or no.”

    Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco is located under the Savoy hotel and has the greatest food I’ve ever experienced (vegan nonetheless, and even better than Horizons in Philadelphia, also amazing vegan food).

  2. From the 5 years I have been going to Vietnam with my family, boyfriend, and friends, they have never accepted reservations…maybe this has changed, but I’m pretty sure they don’t, not even for birthdays…

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