There's this great scene in "A Christmas Story" where, after the family's Christmas day feast has been devoured by a pack of hungry dogs, they head to a Chinese restaurant for Christmas dinner. The joke is that the only restaurants open on Christmas Day are Chinese restaurants.
In fact, my own family has ordered from on Christmas. My parents were traveling out of the country and my brothers, my cousins and I gathered at our house for what can only be described as the most epic Chinese take-out feast ever ordered. We ordered what everyone asked for—which required trips to three different Chinese restaurants in the area. Sang Kee will always be near and dear to my heart, not only because of that event, but because I always leave full and satisfied.
The menu, like the food itself, is much more refined than your typical Chinese restaurant. This restaurant serves what I would consider upscale Asian fare, and even more impressive is the offering of seasonal items. Try the soft shell crab dishes, at least one of which is now on offer.
We started off with the steamed Shanghai juice buns and tom yum seafood soup. The tom yum was hot, spicy and had a multi-dimensional flavor. It was tangy, rich, and satisfying. The abundant seafood (shrimp and clams) were slightly overcooked for my taste, but the numerous vegetables were a welcome addition.
The steamed juice buns took a while to come out (but we were given fair warning) and arrived with a sweet vinegar dipping sauce. The pork filling wasn't as flavorful as I had been expecting but the dipping sauce helped a bit. The chinese pizza with apple salad is a great appetizer, as are the spring rolls.
For our entrees we ordered the famous Peking duck and needle noodles. The duck was and always is fantastic. The whole presentation of the duck meat and crisp duck skin slices decoratively arranged on a plate, the bamboo steamer with the thin pancakes, the julienned scallions and plum sauce all lend an air of majesty.
The Peking duck at Sang Kee, made famous in the region from their longtime Chinatown location in Center City, is a special treat. I always tear the pancake in half to create two smaller half moon pancakes instead of one large round pancake. I slicked on plenty of plum sauce, added plenty of scallions and duck and rolled up the pancake like a cigar. The duck was fatty and delicious. The skin was super crisp and the scallions fresh. I love this dish.
The needle noodles were visually stunning with plenty of vegetables. The shape of the noodles was quite interesting although the texture was mushy. The sauce was mild in flavor with a faint soy taste. Though advertised as spicy, I didn't pick up too much heat when I tasted them.
The big bowl broth noodle options are a great dinner as well. My favorite is the roasted duck noodle soup with egg noodles, although the roasted pork is delicious as well.
Sang Kee offers traditional Chinese dishes as well, including favorites like sweet and sour chicken, General Tso's chicken, shrimp lo mein and beef fried rice.
The decor at Sang Kee is on the trendy side, with polished woods, paper lanterns and floral patterned rugs hung on the walls. The service is outstanding. Our server never missed a beat and checked in with us after each item was brought to our table. Her knowledge of the menu was extensive and she was friendly as can be. When we requested to-go containers, our server brought out small containers of the juice bun dipping and plum sauces to save us a step as we packed up our leftovers (she offered to pack our stuff but I insisted on doing it myself).
Sang Kee has great Asian and traditional Chinese food (my favorites are always good) but the entire menu is not without flaws. The service is always great—I can't remember a time when it wasn't.
I would recommend this restaurant to anyone—for Christmas or any other day of the year.