For a few months now, I’ve known about Han Dynasty. It all began when a co-worker raved about their Chinese cuisine; from subsequent visits, he continued to rant and add to the spark once lit in my mind. It was time to check out the hype!
First, I knew that Han Dynasty was going to be a treat when I saw how hard it was to get in on a Friday night (and it was raining!) As soon as you walk in, you notice its warm, casual atmosphere, packed with a plethora of smells. Apparently, there were tables in their basement, but we were fortunate to land seats upstairs.
Han Dynasty operates in a traditional family style for serving. To get the best out of your experience, pair multiple dishes together. Most of the people dining that night, were in groups of four or more people. Something to keep in mind about the menu. Each dish is listed with a number from 1-10 to indicate spiciness; 1 is the lowest grade of spice, while 10 is the highest.
So, what did I eat? I started off with the famous Dan Dan Noodles (8); they in themselves, were a standalone knockout for the night. It’s not your typical Lo Mein dish from the corner store. These noodles had the perfect texture, not too chewy, and not too soft. Served in what seemed to be a light peanut sauce, infused with chili, Dan Dan noodles packed a punch! Typically, the restaurant serves them with pork, but considering my diet, I asked if it could be omitted. No matter, they were still flavorfully delicious.
Accompanied with the noodles, scallion pancakes were ordered, a favorite of mine when cooked properly. They were. I found myself dipping them into the sauce of the noodles for added pleasure for the crunchy exterior.
For the entrées, Han Dynasty offers a variety of cooking styles, such as Hot Sauce Style (7), Dry Pepper Style (8), Kung Pao Style (3), and the list goes on. All of them have their own unique flavors, served with rice, vegetables, and a choice of meats.
I chose the Dry Pot Style (10), which is served in a spicy hot sauce, with mushrooms, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, etc. My meat of choice, fish (flounder). If you’re looking to clear the sinuses, this is the dish for you! Jokes aside, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The flounder was tender and juicy, and the vegetables were fresh, adequately absorbing the flavors of the hot pot sauce.
It’s a rare occurrence when I visit a Chinese restaurant. In previous entries, I’ve gone on and on about my experiences with basic American-Chinese cuisine, verses the real, authentic tastes I’ve explored in the midst of Chinatown, and in the homes of close friends.
Han Dynasty met, and more than exceeded my expectations. I encourage everyone to give it a try!
You can find this restaurant at 108 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pa*
*There are other locations in surrounding areas.