Tequeños and Shrimp Spring Rolls


Dana and I have been on a hot streak of eating out. Pretty soon we’ll be broke. I’m going to have to add a PayPal donation button soon in order to fund these mouth-watering blog entries.

In the past year (few years?) there’s been several new restaurants popping up on the border of Northern Liberties on Spring Garden across the street from the Spaghetti Warehouse. (One of these days the Spaghetti Warehouse is going to get its own profile here — but not as a restaurant review). Palate is the latest, but there’s also Siam Lotus and Sazon. Nouveau American, Thai, Venezuelan. And a stone’s throw away from Silk City Diner. Starting to sound pretty hip and happening.

Until you realize there’s a hulking behemoth across the street by the name of Spaghetti Warehouse.

And a car wash a block down called Hand Wash N Lube (with a sign that would make a Reno bordello proud).
Hand Wash N Lube

Yeah, that block has a pretty unique composition now.

Somehow I manage to pester Dana to stop by Sazon. Dana insists that her stomach hurts and, at the very most, we’ll have to order it take out, so she won’t have to eat sitting in one spot. But she takes a look at the menu, and her will slowly bends.


The ambience is pretty fun and flirty. There’s a diner bar, some collected paintings and artifacts evoking South America, stained wood, bright colors and tiles. It’s relaxed and unpretentious.

The food, too, was unfussy and simple, but well done. I had the Asado Negro, which tasted a lot like braised kalbi. Dana had the Arepa Domino, which is kind of like a South American sandwich of black beans and cheese between meal cakes made of maize. Like I said, pretty tasty, but basic, ethnic food. I was a little dismayed, therefore, that the prices were so (relatively) high. I could have gotten a meal like this on the fringes of D.C. for almost a third less. But then again, Sazon bills itself as Philly’s only traditional Venezuelan restaurant.

To drink, I had the cafe mocha, a combination of cocoa and coffee which tasted like semi-sweet chocolate. Incidentally, Dana recreated the drink the other night using instant coffee and Hershey’s dark chocolate syrup. Yummy.

We did have one food revelation at Sazon, though: tequeños.

Everybody stop making mozzarella sticks, right now. Start making tequeños instead, which are lighter and cheesier and stringier and just gosh darn better.

After we walked out of Sazon, Dana had a craving for a fried roll with shrimp and veggies. Yeah, she has very peculiar hankerings — I guess it has to do with her rather refined palate.

So we head a few stores down to a Chinese place called Chef King. There were a few things we noticed about Chef King:

  • There was no bullet-proof partition separating the kitchen from the clients
  • There was a steady stream of customers. (All African-American but none shifty-eyed or …well… shady)
  • You could actually see Chinese guys clanging on actual woks over roaring flames

All good signs of a better take-out place. And, yes, Dana reported the shrimp roll was spot on.

food, restaurant, south america, venezuela, china, northern liberties, philly, coffee

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