It all started Monday morning as I was reading my tweets and checking e-mail. Michelle
of An Empty Fridge
gave me a heads up about Han Dynasty’s monthly tasting. Every first Monday, Han Dynasty holds a $25 tasting and they bring out all kinds of dishes that you can try. When I read previously that Han Dynasty was a Sichuan restaurant, I was immediately interested in checking this place out at some point. I used to live in central NJ and there was an awesome Sichuan restaurant there that served legit Sichuan food, with hua jiao (Sichuan peppercorn) and all…NOT your typical American takeout Chinese garbage. Since moving to the Philly area, I haven’t found any places that quite satisfied my craving for authentic Sichuan cuisine…until now…
I was out on inspection on Monday, so that was the only thing that could have stopped me from attending this dinner since I wasn’t sure what time I would be finished. Around the lunch hour, I felt pretty good about our progress and gave Han Dynasty a call…
“Walk in’s are for suckers!” Han Chiang said to me on the phone as I told him I might call back if work runs too long. I laughed…but at the same time a little shocked at what just happened. Then he said he was joking and said it was no problem if I couldn’t make it. Just that little interaction made me wanna go even more. This guy was hilarious.
Anyway, when I got to Han Dynasty, there were tables of all sizes placed adjacent to each other (rounds, squares, rectangles). I luckily sat at a table with a lazy susan, closest to the kitchen. They started to bring out the food to our table, eventually bringing out other plates to some of the others after.
fuqi feipian (夫妻肺片)
They started off with two cold apps, a beef tendon dish with a chili vinaigrette and one of my favorites, fuqi feipian (夫妻肺片), which is a beef offal dish consisting of thin slices of tongue and lung with a chili vinaigrette of some sort. That fuqi feipian was delish. It was tasty and had a lot of ground hua jiao, which numbed my lips and tongue just after a couple bites.
mung bean noodles
The next appetizers they brought out were Taiwanese sausage w/ slices of garlic and spicy cucumbers. The noodles came out soon after. There was a spicy mung bean noodle, a chili noodle, noodles with minced pork (or beef – don’t remember), and my all time favorite Sichuan dish, the dish that got me so into Sichuan cuisine…dan dan mian (擔擔麵). The dan dan mian was fantastic. It had a good amount of spice, with the perfect hint of sesame paste in the sauce. Ahh, it was heavenly. I’ve bought a Sichuan cookbook since my time in Shanghai a few years ago and learned to make dan dan mian…but I still can’t quite make it like this. Han Dynasty’s dan dan mian is close to what I had originally. This dish alone is reason enough for me to come back!
dan dan mian (擔擔麵)
rabbit dry pot
After the noodles, the entree dishes started to make their way out. There was a frog dish which was great. It reminded me of a similar frog dish I had at a Hunan restaurant in Shanghai. Some of the other dishes served were a dish of Chinese broccoli sauteed with garlic, fish w/ veggies, pork in chili sauce, a rabbit dry pot, and a dish of crispy beef slivers.
crispy beef slivers
The final dessert was a sort of tang yuan, a sweet soup with glutinous rice balls.
I was officially stuffed and entering a food coma towards the end of the meal…though at the same time, I was euphoric. Some buddies and I got caught up in conversation that we ended up being some of the last people there. Han came by and gave us some boxes to take home some of the leftovers! Dan dan mian leftovers for later! Woot!
Han, thank you so much for filling the Sichuan sized hole in my stomach. I’m so glad you are close by and I will certainly be returning. I still have to try one of my other favorite Sichuan dishes, mapo doufu (麻婆豆腐).
Huge thanks to Michelle for the heads up on the tasting. I’m glad I made it out!
Sidenote: Dan dan noodles at Pei-wei Asian Diner are nowhere near the taste and flavor of true Sichuan dan dan mian, don’t be fooled.
Tagged: asian, chinese, old city, pa, philly, sichuan
108 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106