• Reviewed by:   on: 8/13/2012 4:28:00 AM
    You enter, and are almost taken back by the sight of tanks of live fish, shrimp, and most weird, frogs! Too many to count; just waiting for someone to order one and then be scooped up like a kid's carnival game to be prepared. Oh yeah, it's fresh.I came here with a group of several coworkers, and the meal hit the spot. It was not the absolute best Chinese food I've ever had, but it was very tasty and worth a second trip back.Breaded Crab - best thing tonight; light and airy with nice crisp and very tasty.Peking Duck - not enough for the price, tasty and the skin was almost too crunchy.Sesame Chicken - somewhat bland, but the pieces of chicken were not too heavy on the breading - so it was fine.Sesame Shrimp - much better than the chicken, had more flavor, nice and light.Chicken and Broccoli - Could find this just about anywhere about the same.Rice dish - perfect with not much grease taste, lots of pieces of everything inside - I could make this a meal on it's own.Noodle dish - had curry seasoning, and I was quite turned off by it.Additional plus was the really cheap prices for the liquor and beer.The place filled up with many other Chinese people during our meal and was full by the time we left, so if they come to "one of their own," then I'm saying it must be a favorite.About $27 per person including tip for the 8 of us = great value for what we got. This place hit the seafood on the head, and everything else close to it without hitting your fingers or thumbs!
  • Reviewed by:   on: 7/8/2012 5:25:00 PM
    This is the most disgusting restaurant I have been. My PREGNANT wife and I were eating when 2 roaches ran across our table!!! The waitress then came over and killed one on the table. I called for the manager who then asked if we wanted our food to go. Noooo I just wanted to get out of there. We did not pay, left immediately and my wife started throwing up. We will never ever go back and I say STAY AWAY. I would give zero stars if possible.
  • Reviewed by:   on: 7/14/2012 10:37:00 AM
    Seeing live frogs hopping all over each other in a tank wasn't a prerequisite for the new chinese restaurant I was looking for on a Tuesday afternoon..but, I'm really glad it didn't dissuade me from trying it.Tai Lake was exactly what I was looking for... something not too traditional, but traditional enough. We were both really hungry, and for the first time in a long time in Chinatown, I left happy. Really happy.The wonton soup seemed like an instant mix base, that had scallions--no pork shreds. The wontons themselves were thick dough surrounding a big, identifiable clump of pork. A+ for the soup. We also had pan fried dumplings as a second appetizer. They were very greasy, not very flavorful, as the only thing in them was pork like in the wontons. I would not recommend them.As I mentioned, I wasn't in the mood for traditional, but didn't want complete garbage. I did still order General Tso's, but I hoped and prayed it wouldn't be like from the corner store in North Philly (not that I would know or anything)... I was pleased. The breading was light and airy and perfectly crispy, surrounding large chunks of white meat chicken. There were tons of Diablo peppers floating around, and a scallion or two, but it wasn't spicy. We also ordered The House Special Fried Rice.. this wasn't as good as Ho Sai Gai, but Ho Sai Gai is what I was trying to find an alternative from. The rice was good, and we (more like he) really tore it up. (I liked every single other thing better than when I had it at Ho Sai Gai.)The put a pot of oolong tea on the table, and I did my best to really get my antioxidants for the day. Partially, out of guilt, but also maybe because it really was delicious.A few hours later, I did have an incredible bad headache. After doing a little googling-- I found it most likely came from MSG. I did taste it when I was eating...but, I ordered what I wanted and ate it. I would go back and wasn't left thinking of finding somewhere better.
  • Reviewed by:   on: 7/12/2012 4:31:00 AM
    Pretty sad for a Chinese dinner:1. steamed fish - overcooked2. steamed chicken was mediocre; tough and overcooked3. Tofu claypot - sour tofu, flavorlessIt's rather telling when they can't even get basics right. Disappointing.
  • Reviewed by:   on: 6/23/2012 5:48:00 AM
    The first time my mother visited Philly, we wound up at Tai Lake multiple times in the course of a few days. Her second visit was no different as she was there twice in three days. The lure of the fresh swimming seafood was too much to resist!Tai Lake is not for the weakly squeamish. If you can't handle walking past tanks of live animals about to be served on your table, skip it. If you're scared by heads on shrimp, don't get the Boiled Shrimp (otherwise, get it - delicious!). We also got a Steamed Fish with Ginger and Scallion, which was just slightly overcooked, but otherwise good.
  • Reviewed by:   on: 6/2/2012 2:39:00 PM
    I stopped here for a quick dinner the other night for the first time, it was in full swing and there were tables with as many as 10 people sitting together. The waiters have amazing agility and are all extremely skinny, as they had no problems balancing huge platters of food and squeezing between all the squished tables. If you have a phobia of overcrowded rooms, messy eaters, and people chatting and speaking loud abrasive chinese, this is not the place for you. The food was standard, true chinese fare-tasty oily salty and for me, homey. Out front they have tanks of frogs, lobster, fish, and prawns/shrimps- which prompted us to order multiple rounds of fried frog legs. It was my first time having that in a long time, and the old me still rings true; I'm not a fan. My friends however, devoured 3 orders of it and left mighty satisfied. Everything we ordered came out hot and fast, and sat well in our bellies.I would love to return to try a few other of my favorite dishes! I'll be back soon.
  • Reviewed by:   on: 5/5/2012 8:42:00 AM
    This was a very pleasant surprise in Chinatown for me. My girlfriend, a couple of her friends from college, and I met for dinner on a Friday night. There was a 10 minute wait for seating for a party of four. From the looks of it, the place was pretty much packed from the door.Speaking of that, when you walk in you're greeted by a chorus of frogs, fish, eel and shrimp. It's a little strange for the typical diner--realizing this is the food you're about to eat, still alive and looking you in the eye. Once you're past that, it's your regular Chinatown restaurant.The food was good and well prepared. We had four dishes- an egg and beef soup, clams with crispy pork bits, tofu & seafood (similar to chop suey), and a frog dish with chestnut and mushroom. To my surprise, the frog dish was the most flavorful. All of the dishes were well executed and pleasing, though they lacked finesse at times.I think a place like this one deserves three stars because the food was good- different than a typical menu and it was tasty. The layout and decor would need to be improved for an additional star, and the execution needs to improve for the fifth start. To compare, I would give Han Dynasty five stars and Ocean Harbor's dim sum four stars. Bottom line: Tai Lake is different than your average Chinese restaurant and that gets it three stars. Update the layout and style, execute all dishes excellently and it will be at five stars in no time. I'd go back if invited.
  • Reviewed by:   on: 3/22/2013 11:30:00 AM
    So difficult to find parking around the neighborhood. Dim sum is pretty good, but we had to wait a long time before the waitress had a chance to come to our table with her cart of dishes. Also, they should have a bigger restroom.
  • Reviewed by:   on: 3/16/2013 4:41:00 PM
    I was anxious to try Tai Lake, having never eaten in Chinatown (yes, I know...I'm crazy!). Honestly, seeing the live frogs in the entrance foyer did creep me out. I didn't want this to be my deciding factor so I was hoping the food would blow me away. Sadly, it did not. The restaurant was definitely clean though and had a nice appearance.I got simple lo mein which was greasier then I prefer. Hubs got shrimp which he said was ok but the broccoli he got he claimed to be inedible (it was pickled). We left thinking that we plan to try somewhere else in Chinatown. Surely there is better!
  • Reviewed by:   on: 3/11/2013 5:11:00 AM
    Five words: dungeness crab with minced pork.Boom.
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