Unlike yesterday, Day 4 started off with a nice chunk of sunshine. That was a relief. We were able to do a few of the things that we missed out on yesterday when it was pouring cats and dogs. The day started by walking to City Hall, which is located just a few blocks from the Loews Hotel. We signed up for the tower tour and went to the top of the City Hall clock tower, just below the large William Penn statue that overlooks the City of Philadelphia.
After taking a few pics from the top of City Hall, we walked over to Love Park, where Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE sculpture stands. We took a gazillion photos and then moved on to the Comcast Center. The Comcast Center has a neat (and very huge) HD video wall, with short videos playing throughout the day. Below the lobby you’ll find a small market. We made a pit stop there, where I picked up a drink and a small croissant. The croissant served as a warmup to our Pat’s and Geno’s pilgrimage.
(Top: Genos is all glitz and glamour but lacking in the taste department. Bottom: Pat’s, good but not as good as Jim’s Steaks)
My frist experience with a Philly Cheesesteak came to me at Jim’s Steaks. After that first cheesesteak, my mind was blown and I was ready to experience the much hyped Pat’s and Geno’s variety. We caught a taxi from the Loews Hotel to the Cheesesteak mecca of the world. For the uninitiated, Pat’s and Geno’s are located right across of each other and are considered rival cheesesteak stands. So of course, we had to experience both Pat’s and Geno’s. Pat’s was alright, and Geno’s felt a bit too generic (though, their fries were good). My conclusion, Jim’s Steaks dominates both Pat’s and Geno’s. If you want a Philly Cheesesteak, then know this: Jim’s Steaks is the center of the universe.
Despite the disappointing Pat’s and Geno’s experience, dinner more than made up for it! In our attempt to hit up the restaurants of all of the Iron Chefs, we just had to experience the newest Iron Chef Jose Garcia’s restaurant, Amada. Garcia’s Amada specializes in authentic Spanish Tapas. We settled on three different dishes, theÂ LECHÃ“N CON QUESO (Braised Pork Shoulder, La Peral, Pine Nut, Apple & Fennel),Â ENTRECÃ”TE A LA CATALAN (Prime Sirloin with CatalÃ¡n Spinach, Membrillo & Goat Cheese), and the ARROZ DE LANGOSTA (Lobster Bomba Rice with Clams, Lemon Zest & Golden Pea Shoots). The dishes were nicely proportioned, and, more importantly, tasted oh so good.
We decided to pass on dessert at Amada and opted instead to get some ice cream at the famed Franklin Fountain. This old school ice cream fountain is like a time warp, as evidenced by the decor and the staff who were dressed as if it was the 1920′s. You might recall that Adam Richman of Man Vs. Food had the Mt. Visuvious here. I decided on the Franklin Mint and Michelle had the Banana Split For My Baby. Both were very indulgent choices. We honestly should have shared one, but, I was intent on mint ice cream. Needless to say, we tried as hard as we could, but in the end, neither of us ate more than half of our ice cream dishes.
And as I’ve been doing, here’s a video slideshow of some of the photos that we took during this lovely day in Philly!
This is the first of a couple day-by-day updates that Iâ€™ll be doing during my trip to Philadelphia and San Francisco. I thought it would be cool to keep you guys up to date Â on what Iâ€™m up to and what tees I’m wearing! If you want to check out the tee that I wore, just click on the orange links.
The thing about flying from Hawaii to the east coast of the United States is that it takes a very, very Â long time. It took us 5 hours to fly to from Honolulu to San Francisco and then 5 more hours to fly from San Francisco to Philadelphia. We left Honolulu at 6:45 am Saturday morning and arrived at our final destination at 1:00 am the next day. After an eventful “taxi ride” from the airport to the Loews Philadelphia Hotel and despite our hunger, we quickly … fell … asleep.
Despite an uneventful first day spent flying the friendly skies, our first full day in Philadelphia was action packed. We started the day at 9:00 am by walking from the Loews hotel to the Independence Visitor Center to pick up our tickets to tour Independence Hall. With a 10:20 am tour time, we had some time to spare, so we headed to Mrs. K’s Koffee Shop for a classic diner breakfast. I had one of their specials, which consisted of pancakes, sausage and two eggs. Michelle had the same, minus the eggs. The pancakes were so good, fluffy and oh so tasty.
After breakfast, we rushed off to Independence Hall to make our 10:20 am tour time. We just made it. Actually, we were a minute late and the tour had already started. One of the park rangers (yes, it’s a National History Park), had to usher us in to meet up with our tour. The tour was an interesting one with a lot of historical facts intertwined. The State House is where the dream of a free country of independent citizens materialized. Here, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were scribed. I was totally channeling the inner Benjamin Franklin in me.
From the Liberty Bell, we headed to the final resting spot of Benjamin Franklin at the Christ Church Burial Ground. We both tossed a penny onto his grave, as it was akin to tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain. After we tossed our pennies, a worker came to collect the coins and we overheard him mention that they annually receive $4000 worth of pennies. Neat! When someone asked him why people tossed pennies versus other coins, another visitor recounted one of Benjamin Franklin’s thoughts: A penny saved is a penny earned.
By this time, our hunger had been growing, so we set out for Jim’s Steaks which is considered to be better than the famed Geno’s and Pat’s by many locals that I’ve spoken with. So to South Philly we went, in search for my first taste of a real Philly Cheesteak. I was excited. The line at Jim’s was, as expected, very long. It took us about 20 minutes before we were able to place our order. Michelle and I shared a Philly Cheesesteak with Wiz and Mushrooms. I’m not the greatest onion fan, so we left that out. The restaurant was packed so we ended up standing and eating at one of the counters upstairs. The cheesesteak was amazingly good. The bread was soft and the cheese wiz was the perfect complement to the very tasty steak. I now know why Philly Cheesesteaks are world renown. They’re so good!
And as if we needed more food, we then headed to Isgro’s Pastries where they’ve been making cannolis for over 100 years. The bakery was filled with so many baked goodies that I almost went into a sugar shock before taking a bite into my cannoli! We ordered some cookies (Cherry Garcia, Rocky Road and Chocolate Chip Ricotta) and of course, two chocolate chip cannolis!
With no place to sit and enjoy our cannolis we decided that we’d make Reading Terminal our unofficial Isgro eating spot, as we had also gone to Chinatown. We’ll be visiting Reading Terminal on another day for a more thorough visit. Today, we just needed a place to eat our cannolis! Once we devoured the cannolis we went straight to our hotel for some rest before dinner at Iron Chef Morimoto’s restaurant. On a side note, while we were totally enjoying our delicious cannolis, an inquisitive wanderer stopped by, wondering where in Reading Terminal she could purchase the same cannoli. Unfortunately we had to tell her that we picked them up at Isgro’s. She left sad. And without a cannoli.
Alright, you might think that with all the food we had up to this point, we would be quite stuffed. Rubbish! We were both so excited to dine at Morimoto, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s sleek namesake restaurant on 7th and Chesnut. The food did not disappoint. Michelle decided on the Morimoto tempura to start and the seafood toban yaki. I decided on the 7 course Morimoto omakase, the chef’s choice multi-course tasting menu designed to allow you to experience the essence of Morimoto’s menu. It was worth the 80 bucks because at the end of the day, I’m not a raw fish fan but somehow, Morimoto made me fall in love with raw fish. I left full and satisfied.
And finally, Michelle and I put together a little photo slideshow of our first full day in sunny Philadelphia! Enjoy. You can also check out these photos on my Flickr.