I'm a chowhound from Toronto, and have been impressed with the Chinese vegetarian) restaurants in Philadelphia, when I've previously visited.
A group of us will be at conference at U. Penn. in May. We have the opportunity to host a professor (through a mutual acquaintance) for dinner.
If I was in Toronto, I'd suggest a Chinese-style banquet, since we'll have maybe 10 people. In a few (upscale) restaurants, small side rooms are available, so that we can hear everyone's conversations. Alternatively, some Chinese restaurants are quieter than others.
Could a Philadelphia chowhound make some suggestions in the downtown area? Was my impression of Philadelphia's Chinatown misleading, and should we look for some other cuisine? Most of us would really prefer to not wear ties, so suggestions of casual places would be welcomed. (Buffets are out, because people have to leave the table too often).