Chinatown is a wonderful place. As a first-generation Chinese immigrant (my parents were born in China and immigrated in their 30’s, before I was born), I feel connected to many aspects of Chinese culture. I’ve been to China four times in my life; most recently, I went to Guangzhou and Beijing the summer after graduating high school. One thing that I miss very much while at school is Chinese food. The Sharples “Asian bar”, while a noble attempt, is more American Chinese than Chinese Chinese. A nearby Chinese delivery place also isn’t too far off, but if I want real authenticity that won’t empty my wallet, I head to Chinatown.
I don’t go nearly as often as I should or want to. Truthfully, I only go when I have transportation there. I’m too frugal to pay the $12 for a SEPTA ticket. So, most of the time that I eat at Chinatown is when the badminton team goes there.
The badminton team went to three tournaments in my first season with them. They were, in order, Pennsylvania State Open, Mainline Doubles (hosted by Bryn Mawr College), and Mid-Atlantic Juniors. After each of them, we had dinner at a restaurant somewhere. After Mainline Doubles we ate in Bryn Mawr at a pizza restaurant called Crust to celebrate a teammate’s birthday.
The other times, we ate in Chinatown. With the badminton team, I’ve been to Seorabal Korean BBQ and Sakura Mandarin. They also went to Terakawa Ramen without me after Mid-Atlantic because I had to dip out early.
We all sit around a long table, sometimes in a private room if the restaurant isn’t too crowded, and the team members from China take over the menu-ordering. It feels like we’re actually in China, sometimes, especially when we speak to the servers in Chinese and playfully make fun of people for their bad chopstick technique. We all take photos of the food (why not) and laugh and talk around lo mein, scallion pancakes, and braised beef.
Everyone on the team is welcome to our hangouts, both on- and off-campus. We have slogged through some 7:30 AM Saturday morning breakfasts in Sharples, and stayed in Philadelphia until 10 PM those same days. We’re not unique, though. Lots of sports teams do things like this after their games. Games and tournaments translate into a lot of long days, and nothing’s better for that than a relaxed dinner with close friends, win or lose.