How Not to Cook Chinese Food: Jade Harbor

It’s a Real Potato milestone: our first bad restaurant review. The lucky winner? Jade Harbor, on Race and 11th St. in Philadelphia’s Chinatown.

We were both too tired and hungry to cook last night, so we decided to meet up and get some delicious hand-drawn noodles. Unfortunately, the hand-drawn noodle place was closing up for the night, so we surveyed our options and decided on Jade Harbor. (Joe’s choice, by the way. I wanted to try the Peking Duck joint across the street.) It had a CitySearch award, and the menu looked varied, so we thought, hey, we’re in Chinatown, it can’t be that bad.

Wrong.

We ordered two appetizers, a scallion pancake and the house’s special Crispy Seafood Roll, billed on their website thusly:

We hope to make your dining experience memorable as we endeavor to serve you the finest and our famous “Seafood Roll” made with only the freshest and our secret recipes. You will come again if you have tried once….

Actually, I won’t: it was a big, sodden grease bomb. The scallion pancake was crispy, almost cracker-like, and only the bottom layer was greasy.

Joe decided to splurge on a dish he’d always wondered about, and got the Shark Fin Soup. It was expensive– $14– so he was expecting a large, filling bowl, but received a small, appetizer-sized cup. It was tasty, especially with the vinegary, bright red sauce our server provided, but not worth the money.

I ordered braised noodles with crabmeat, hoping for a light seafood dish. I received a ginormous bowl of bland and vaguely smoky-tasting noodles with four or five small chunks of fishy-tasting crabmeat. I’ve never in my life picked around the crabmeat and eaten only the vegetables, but that’s what I found myself doing last night. The hoisin sauce helped a little, but it couldn’t disguise the overwhelming greasiness of the dish. We paid our exorbitant-for-Chinatown tab and went home, reminding ourselves that we’ve been spoiled lately by the fresh, delicious Chinese food we’ve been making and seeking out. Next time, we’ll show up in time for the real deal.

Epilogue: Joe is not feeling well today. Hmmm….

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Jade Harbor in Philadelphia

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4 Responses to “How Not to Cook Chinese Food: Jade Harbor”

  1. Naveen Says:

    Hahahaha… I’m sorry to laugh about your experience, but it was funny. I on the other hand tried sashimi for the first time last night. I have always kept myself to pretty safe fusion rolls and some light sushi. Thought of raw fish just never appealed to me. But my friends insisted I give it a try and it was absolutely delicious. The White tuna was like butter, and I even had some mackarel which although stinky is meaty and it was fresh… I loved it all… I’ve been warned that one day I might run into bad sushi, but this place was good.

  2. therealpotato Says:

    Naveen, laugh away! It was pretty funny once I got the nasty greasy taste out of my mouth. Hey, you eat adventurously, you take chances, you know?

    Ohh, first sashimi experience! Congratulations. It’s wonderful, isn’t it? I was averse to it, too, but I went to Japan and figured I couldn’t skip the sushi in freakin’ Japan. Now I’m a craven sushi addict. 🙂

  3. Renegade Eye Says:

    Chinese restaraunts are going into buffet style. That puts emphasis on quantity.

  4. Zlamushka Says:

    Hi there, that was a funny one. I kinda enjoy reading bad restaurant reviews… not that I want you to eat sucky food all the time 🙂 I lived in China for two years and never ever ate in a Chinese restaurant abroad again. For one, simple reason, I dont know why they re trying to accomodate their taste to Western.. hm… Joe not feeling well, could it be all the MSG they like to flavor dishes with?


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