Sunday, March 6, 2011

Han Dynasty

If you're like me and you love spicy food, then Han Dynasty just might become your new favorite restaurant. It is some of the best and most authentic Chinese food in the whole city, even though it isn't even in Chinatown.

Han Dynasty is quickly becoming a hip hot spot of the Old City scene. Any night you go the place is sure to be packed with eager diners. If you're planning on trying it out you should definitely call and make a reservation because tables at this restaurant are in high demand. I went with two friends once without a reservation and we waited for over an hour to be seated. We had heard really good things about the restaurant and we were dying to check it out no matter how long we had to wait.

So, why is Han Dynasty so popular? Two words: the food. Han Dynasty offers a variety of tongue-tingling dishes ranging from extremely spicy (labeled 10 on the menu. if you order one, get ready to sweat) to mild (with a low number such as 1 or 2 and are a nice break from the spice of some of the more daring dishes). When I went for the first time my friends and I played it safe; we didn't know just how spicy a 10 would be so we kept all our dishes at 8 and under. Everything we had that night exceeded our expectations. My favorite dish we had was Dan Dan Noodles (which we actually got for free because the host felt bad that we had waited for over an hour for a table). They were spicy but had a slight sweetness to them that made the intensity of spice seem somewhat less. They had a garnish of what I think was ground beef although I can't be sure, but regardless of what it was the dish was fantastic. I could go there and order just that and be happy, that's how exceptional those noodles are. I couldn't even get a picture of them because we devoured them so quickly.

My other favorite were the spicy crispy cucumbers. They were fresh and crispy cucumbers in a chili oil sauce. They were still quite spicy but the fact that they were cold and refreshing made them the perfect thing to cool your mouth off after the more spicy dishes. Even if you aren't the biggest fan of cucumbers I would still recommend giving them a try.

If you want a real challenge in terms of spice go for the dry pot style option on the menu. It is labeled a 10 so you know the dish is going to be spicy. It comes to your table served on fire, literally. You have your pick from a variety of different meats which is then cooked with vegetables in a dry spice rub.

If you want something a little more tame, I suggest you go for the dry fry style with your choice of meat or the garlic sauce style which are a 6 and a 4 respectively. I had both of those the first time I went and I was not disappointed. I had chicken garlic sauce style and for me it was a perfect break from the spice because it was slightly sweet while still being lightly spiced and garlicy.

The only dish I haven't liked from Han Dynasty was the pork belly in garlic sauce. It was a bit too adventurous for me and since I had never had pork belly before I was a little scared of it. I did give it a try but it wasn't really my cup of tea. However, if you like pork belly I think you would like this dish. When I brought the leftover pork belly home to my brother he gobbled it down in a minute and told me it was delicious.

After my first visit to Han Dynasty it only took me two weeks to make it back for a second meal despite the trek to Old City. If that isn't a testament to how great the food is then I don't know what is. Seriously, you have to check this place out!

Han Dynasty
108 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

1 comment:

  1. the cumin-crusted lamb is ALSO amazing. i recently went to HD w/my book club, and we barely had time to discuss the book b/w bites!! :D



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