Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Han Dynasty: Szechuan Style Chinese Restaurant and BYO

Last weekend I visited the Han Dynasty BYO Restaurant on 2nd and Chestnut and by the end of the night I was more than convinced that the long SEPTA ride was worth it. Its hard to sort through the incredible number of Asian or Asian fusion restaurants and BYOs in Philly and one is often too tempted to resort to restaurants that are just close to campus, but let me tell you about why Han Dynasty is unique.

Their menu selection is incredibly extensive with a variety of hot and cold dishes and a multitude of vegetarian options. I would definitely recommend trying the Dan Dan Noodles ($7.95), which are noodles served with a spicy sauce and a lot of chilis. The noodles can serve up to two people.

Just a warning for almost everything at this restaurant—it’s spicy. The noodles are garnished and prepared with Szechuan peppercorns and are definitely for people who prefer spicy food. Other appetizers like the Dumplings in Chili Oil ($6.95) or the Wonton in Chili Oil ($6.95) are equally spicy and by the time I left the dinner, my spice tolerance had increased substantially. I also couldn’t really feel my tongue.

For the main course, my friends and I each got one of the dishes and sampled all of them. Han Dynasty offers a variety of stir-fry styles ranging from the Dry Pepper stir- fry, Hot Sauce, Cumin and Dry Fry styles. I especially liked the Hot Sauce style, which consisted of a cabbage and celery stir- fry with Tofu ($12.95). However, a really unique Chinese dish, which I have never seen at any other Chinese BYO Restaurant in Philly was the Black Bean style dish ($12.95). The dish consisted of fresh bell peppers and onions stir fried in a rich, warm black bean sauce. The dip was soupy and the peppers were fresh and crisp and really made the dish work perfectly with plain rice or noodles.

And finally, don’t be afraid of the spice element of this restaurant. The best thing about Han Dynasty is not just the food’s spice and flavor, but the ability to pick which level of spice you want. The menus are all marked with numbers ranging from 1-10, 1 being mildly spicy to 10 being still spicy ten glasses of water later. I think Han Dynasty’s unique brand is partly from its spice and flavor and partly from its personalized menu options. Definitely worth the trip!

--Aneesha Raghunathan

Pictures courtesy of ohjoy.blogs.com and examiner.com



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