Wandering Philadelphia : Han Dynasty review (123 Chestnut St)

Let me start with this … I love hot, spicy food. The spicier, the better … I’m one of those people who will fly to the end of the earth for excellent spicy Chinese food. Toronto is awesome for finding excellent Hakka Chinese food … as evidenced by my catalogue of Hakka Chinese joints in Toronto. As I’m finding out here in Philadelphia, there is also some excellent Szechuan food in town … which makes sense as there is a growing Chinatown in the heart of downtown Philly. Today’s find is Han Dynasty in Old City. Han Dynasty review.

It’s super easy to find and there are quite a lot of funky bars and restaurants around the location. As for the location, where else would you find a Chinese restaurant occupying a GIGANTIC space?

Han Dynasty is the perfect location for hosting medium sized gatherings and has an absolutely gorgeous interior. I’ve now been twice on a Tuesday and I’ve never had an issue for dinner, but I have no idea how the weekends look here. All of Han’s servers and bartenders are constantly hospitable, and I have a great time at their old city location. Han has a happy hour from 5-7pm during the week and also offer a city wide special with Jameson. For two people it will set you back around forty bucks, but the food is so good I say splurge and order everything.

I absolutely loved the food at Han Dynasty!!!

I came for the Happy Hour and I was definitely Happy as I ordered everything off their munchies menu along with dumplings in Chili Oil.

If you’re wondering what a table of all that goodness looks like …

The meal started with the Dan Dan noodles with the minced pork. I asked for everything killer spicy and they didn’t shy away at all. The slippery noodles tossed in housemade chili oil with a touch of sesame paste and a nest of stir-fried minced pork and pickled Sichuan vegetables is the benchmark for how this dish should be served everywhere. Every “slurp” had a nice mix of chili oil and sesame paste, and the minced pork was good too. I can see why this is a favorite dish of the locals.

Then everything else came out … I had never had spicy crispy cucumbers  – but this was very much like a Trinidadian chow, except that that it had tons of sugar to go along with the chili sauce and no Cilantro. It’s basically hollowed out cucumbers doused in tons of sauce and chilis. For 3$, I could eat it by the pounds.

Next up were the Szechuan Fries (pictured above). This stuff is a revelation. I didn’t even that you could hook up fries like this. Seriously?!?! If I could mix PEI Potatoes along with the recipe for these fries, I think I could make a mint on the island for what this is. The price at Happy Hour is 4$ … like WTF … this is a steal for the price.

The scallion pancakes were a meh! Nothing amazing but they were an excellent execution of a Chinese Staple along with the typical dipping sauce. However, my beloved dumpling in Chili Oil is nothing short of magical. If I could eat this dish every day for a week … it wouldn’t be a terrible week. They look so unassuming in the bowl below with the sesame seeds but I deliberately didn’t photograph the huge pool of Chili Oil and vinegar magic that it soaks in.

Going through the Yelp reviews, it seems that there is a lot of Tofu dishes I will need to crack. I am super interested in what Han’s Mapo Tofu tastes like. I love this dish, but it takes a special hand to get this right.

In the end, my final bill was 21$!!!! I had to post the picture of all this again, just to remind myself! Absolutely phenomenal!!! Han Dynasty review


About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at rishi@rishiray.com