Recent reports have noted that in Beijing, folks have taken to hanging out at Ikea, lounging on the comfy sofas in air conditioning while sucking down free soda refills.

It is a classic case of "You can take a Communist to capitalism, but you can't make him buy." But if nothing else, creating a faux Swedish name in Mandarin would be a fun parlor game.

Here in Philadelphia, Ikea is working to keep you in the store. Still buying, yes, but viewing the experience as a family friendly event with a town-square ambience.

And, like the casinos, they will feed you inexpensively to prevent you from wandering elsewhere. Keep the impulse purchase of the Billy bookshelf at bay, and you'll eat out for nearly what it costs to dine at home.

While you won't find the marinated pork belly with tofu that is served in the Beijing cafeteria (darn), you will find an inviting atmosphere - especially for dining with young children.

The kids' meal rivals the prices of fast-food joints, but IKEA's dining area actually allows for the possibility of a civilized and pleasant meal.

Kid-size portions go from 99 cents for one item, or choose three for $2.49. Even with a picky kid, with about a dozen options like peanut butter and jelly, mac and cheese and made-to-order pasta, something will hit.

The cafeteria's colorful, open design is kid-centric and there are a variety of seating options - coffee tables, tall stools and counters. There's even a play area if you have one of those kids who won't sit through an entire meal.

One wall of the dining area is a floor-to-ceiling window. Yes, it does overlook the parking lot, but beyond the asphalt is a nice view of the magnificent, abandoned S.S. United States.

It is cafeteria-style and you do have to bus your own trays. The upside? It's a convenient, all-inclusive price. Ikea is one of the design capitals of the world, so their ingenious multilevel cart to carry your trays makes it easy even if you are the only adult in tow.

My tasters called Marinated Salmon ($4.99) one of the best bargains. But, with all the crispbreads in the store, it would have been nice to have a cracker and a bit of butter along with the mound of gravlax. Even better would have been a small packet of thin rye bread like the kind you get on European flights.

Of the entrées, Stuffed Salmon ($6.99) was also deemed very good, especially for the price. The salmon was nicely steamed, but the fish stuffing reminded me of the fish balls in Chinatown that I don't like. In fairness, I think that's a personal taste preference, and I can't complain about the potato and broccoli cakes and the steamed vegetables that come on the platter.

The Buffalo Chicken Wrap ($3.99) came premade and suffered as such. A little on the dry side even with the accompanying packaged blue cheese dressing.

There is, however, a made-to-order station that includes a cheesesteak (there's something about a Swedish cheesesteak that seems not right), or pasta tossed to your specifications.

One of the regional specialties offered in the summer was Crab Cakes ($10.99). Two rather large cakes offered big chunks of crab and a moderate amount of filler. But with so many great crab places just down the way on Oregon, I'd pass here.

It would be hard not to consider the Meatballs ($4.99) served with mashed potatoes, steamed vegetable and lingonberry preserves as one of the true comfort foods.

The mashed potatoes aren't from scratch but, they aren't terrible. The french fries would rival the fast-food joints in the small mall.

The berry sauce makes a sweet and salty combo with the meatballs and gravy.

We'll ignore one taster who proclaimed that if he had a gin and tonic with his meatballs, he'd feel as if he were at a wedding.

No BYOB here, but you can feel festive with Sparkling Apple Juice ($1.59) that truly was refreshing: not too sweet and the acid paired well with the meatballs.

In the can't-beat-this-price category is the Ikea breakfast. Ninety-nine cents gets you eggs, potatoes, bacon or turkey sausage. Upgrade for a buck and add Swedish pancakes or French toast. And the coffee is UTZ certified for responsible growing and sourcing.

It's difficult to get out of Ikea without buying something and if you don't have a need for a sofa - excuse me, Karlstad series - you can go to the Bistro/Swedish Market and bring home some food that doesn't need a little wrench or massive amounts of alcohol to assemble.

Next Friday, this store is hosting a Crawfish Festival. Who knew the Swedes liked crawfish? Many towns have festivals honoring this crustacean - a delicacy once found in their lakes - in late August and early September.

As is customary, there will be paper decorations, songs and, of course, crawfish. At $9.99 for adults and $2.49 for kids, it promises to be a little touch of Sweden on the Delaware.