Most Jews grow up eating Chinese food. Not sure why but it is true. Growing up, on Sunday night we would generally go out for Chinese food and it was always Sichuan. I continued eating Chinese food through out college and then post college too. Fred and I always ordered in Chinese food on Sunday nights when we started to build our life in NYC. I even took a Chinese cooking class a long time ago.
Fast forward I burnt out on Chinese food and shifted into Japanese and on occasion Thai. Chinese food all started to taste the same. In the last few years Chinese food is taking on a new twist with a handful of new restaurant opening that could be categorized as the new Chinese. Many of the owners are the next generation of kids who grew up at their parents Chinese restaurant.
Han Dynasty, one of the best places in Philadelphia (and the surrounding areas) opened not long ago in the East Village. I had lunch there with my friend who is one of the most important voices in the food industry and not surprising she bumped into a few others from the food industry that were there to try it out. The food is innovative and really delicious but keep in mind a few things before ordering. The spice levels are noted on the dishes starting with 1 as mild to 10 as quite spicy. They can dial it down for you if you ask. I believe if you tell them that you have certain food issues that they will work with you too. I did not mention my garlic issue and I should have because each dish it prepared fresh. The food is laden with garlic and it through me off for the rest of the day. Even after sucking on several lemons I slept just awful. Regardless of the issues I had, I want to go back and have dinner sans garlic.
We started with the spicy crispy cucumbers. This was basically garlic, chili oil and crispy cucumbers. I really liked it and without the garlic I would have eaten the whole bowl. You can see the amount of garlic in this photo.
I am a chicken wing fan. These dry pepper chicken wings get a 9 on the spicy scale and were large and really crispy. I definitely had some moments where water came to my eyes from the spice but recommended.
Dry is a word that shows up more than a few times on the menu. This is Dry Pot Style at a 10 spice level. We asked them to dial it down. This dish is served in a sizzling wok and you can choose from fish, pork, beef, lamb, rabbit, chicken, shrimp or tofu to complete the dish. We went with the shrimp that is then mixed with black mushrooms, bamboo shoots and Sichuan pepper corns. Really delicious. The dish is clean not oily like many Chinese dishes.
There are a few things I'd love to go back and try so I need to return with a group. Cumin Style is similar to the Dry Pot where you get to pick the protein that gets to be crusted in a cumin and then stir fried with peppers and onions. Good Chinese food is just really good. There is a reason I ate Chinese food for many Sunday evenings throughout my life.