Han Dynasty

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.

Dandan noodles
Dan Dan Noodles with a 6 on the spice barometer.  Minced pork and a spicy sauce.  These were excellent. 

Dry pepper wings
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.

Dumplings in chili oil
Dumplings in chili oil.  It is exactly as the menu says.  Really good dumplings that just slide down your throat. 

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. 

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    I’ll try it.Question for you. I don’t think that all food needs to be focused on health of course.But I’ve wondered why most every restaurant targeted upscale is not moving to more organic and farm meats. Is it a price issue? If not why not do this?

    1. Gotham Gal

      Many restaurants are moving to really well sourced produce. I do think that price is an issue but when they mention the sourcing on the menu most of those customers do not bat an eyelash in regards to price.Chinese on the other hand is a whole other ball game.

      1. awaldstein

        Charlie Bird is the best. When you ask about something, they come back with a personal knowledge of the fisherman, farmer, whatever.You forget about labels and just feel good about the whole thing. Love that place. Wine list also.

        1. Gotham Gal

          Big fan

    2. LE

      But I’ve wondered why most every restaurant targeted upscale is not moving to more organic and farm meats.Probably because the cost of doing so (in their opinion) would not result in extra business to offset the loss from the more expensive ingredients.While there are many people who make a buying decision based on that “most” people don’t.When people go out to eat they do so to be entertained and have a good meal, right? Organic works at Whole Foods and would work and does in restaurants but probably not as well (I’m guessing) in those places that draw because of atmosphere and/or image. Besides if people were as health conscious as they think they are they wouldn’t eat half the stuff that is made at those restaurants to begin with.Money and profits? Separate story I just sold two domains one to a restaurant with multiple locations in NYC. They couldn’t come up with $10,000 to pay for the domain. Half joking I offered to buy it for them and let them pay me over time. They wanted to know how much I would charge for that “the vig” – they liked the idea as they didn’t have the cash on hand. Amazing. I jacked up the price. I figured if they were that desperate they weren’t a good risk. They declined, came back +-4 months later when they had the money. (True story).Second similar (around the same price level) was for a group that is very large, you have definitely heard of them, and they own plenty of restaurants in NYC that appear to be super successful.Same thing. Had the hardest time getting +-$10,000 from them for a name that was worth way more than that (they got a real bargain but almost lost it because money didn’t flow easy enough to pay quickly).Both places have celebrity chefs and multiple locations in the city.

      1. awaldstein

        I disagree.In a city where many mid to upscale restaurants designate whether the wine is organic, biodynamic or sustainable, you are telling me that I”m incorrect that they care about where the food is from.Simple not correct data.

        1. LE

          You said:But I’ve wondered why most every restaurant targeted upscale is not moving to more organic and farm meats.I said:Probably because the cost of doing so (in their opinion) would not result in extra business to offset the loss from the more expensive ingredients.Also isn’t the profit margin on wine or liquor and/or the buying decision for that different than for food offerings?By what you are saying you believe that “most” restaurants could benefit from this. My point is that while many can and do benefit I don’t think the extra cost would make it a clear win for “most”.I think the extra cost of the food would throw things out of wack and that is why it hasn’t been adopted on any mass scale (which is what I was reading your comment to be saying). [1]Separate issue is supply. If more restaurants do offer organic is there enough supply so that the price won’t be driven even higher than it is today? At least in the short term.[1] Not that business owners can’t be blind and behind the times.

  2. Md.Sultan Mahmud

    Love that place. Wine list also.tech review, cell phone review, laptop Review

  3. Wabi Sabi Ecofashionconcept

    True chinese cuisine is verry rich in variety. China is a huge country with an amazing amount of variety in cuisine, as much if not more than the tremendous amount of dialects of each of the principal languages. American chinese is verry different from european chinese. Within europe there are also large differences between what you find in Spain, in Germany or in the Uk. The sad part is that it is really hard to find something authentic. The chinese adapt their food to what they think is the taste of the local population. what you find will also depend upon the specific área in china where the majority of your local population comes from. Go to a chinese hang out where you can find chinese familys that still follow their cultural customs for meals and you will then have a really AMAZING culinary experience.

  4. daryn

    I’m not jewish, but when I was growing up Chinese food was one of the only takeout foods we ever ordered at home (and pizza).I got this cookbook recently – it’s not going to win any highbrow points, but lots of classics, and everything I’ve made so far has turned out great:http://www.amazon.com/Chine

    1. Gotham Gal

      That looks like a winner.

  5. LE

    Totally thanking you for writing this and adding this one line:”Han Dynasty, one of the best places in Philadelphia (and the surrounding areas)”I’ve never been there. Went and checked out their website and found out they opened one not to far from where Iive.Now if I can only find a local place that does dim sum so I don’t have to drive into the city for that. (I even tried to get the local chinese restaurant to offer dim sum and the owner told me flat out they tried it and there wasn’t enough volume to make it viable every week.)

  6. Lally Rementilla

    Here’s how my parents explained to me why Jews and Chinese food are a great combo. On Christmas Day (and other Christian holidays for that matter) when most restaurants and supermarkets are closed, only Chinese restaurants and stores are open. Hence, Jews gravitate to that cuisine. Especially after watching a movie or two. 😉

    1. Gotham Gal

      makes sense…the movie is key too.

  7. ShuChowdhury

    Han Dynasty is a great new addition to the East Village. Can’t wait until they start delivery. Although there are some solid spots to order from (Grand Sichuan and Red Egg) … The disappearance of Chinatown Brasserie despite the high price point has left a void … A similar thing happened in the West Village because of escalating rents & generational change, then RedFarm came in and really crushed it for that neighborhood… I wonder if anything else will pop up in the next year as it would be welcome.Also, check out http://lauhound.com … it’s the best Chinese food blog I’ve ever seen … In fact, it’s so well curated that if you go to a really authentic place where there is a language barrier, you can pull out your phone and show the servers the pics and titles on the blog and get what you want. pretty awesome.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Totally agree.Im gonna check out that blog

      1. ShuChowdhury

        South China Garden was my favorite… They reopened this summer as Cafe Hong Kong… Bring the blog, I do: https://www.lauhound.com/20

  8. Brandon Burns

    This looks like the food I would eat everyday living in Beijing. Can’t wait to try!