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Han Dynasty Center City


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#91 Tim Dolan

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 07:51 AM

Looks like all the exposure Han has been getting is paying off. I tried to slide in there last night with 2 other people at 6:45 and were told it was an hour and a half wait! At this point I might be better off trekking out to Royersford, which by the way I stopped at two weeks ago and it was just as good and spicy as Center City.
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#92 philadining

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 10:40 AM

Yeah, we've gone in on weeknights a few times recently, and it's been packed. I think we were late enough in the evening that we didn't have to wait long, but yes, they're busy...

I'm losing track of the movements of the chefs out in the burbs: I think the original Royersford chef is now at the Exton location. In any case, I've been getting really great food at the Exton lately. I chatted with Han's mom there recently, and I seem to recall her saying something about the chef that's now at Royersford recently coming back from China, but I haven't been to that branch recently to sample his cooking.

Paradoxically, I like the inconsistency. You'd think that uniformity and reliability would be more desirable, but I actually enjoy the fact that each chef has an individual style, and is better at some dishes than others. The trick is finding out which dishes are his specialties. You can always ask!

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#93 percyn

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 07:29 PM

I did notice the food at Royersford tasted slightly different, but not in a bad way - just different nuances of the chefs.

#94 wkl

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Posted 25 August 2011 - 10:29 AM

sorry if this is old news but, i was here tuesday night and han dynasty is no longer byob. except on tuesday nights.

#95 philadining

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Posted 25 August 2011 - 12:19 PM

Oh, right, Bill, thanks for mentioning this, we discovered the same thing recently and I meant to post about it. We brought beer and wine, so we didn't ask about what they had to sell, or ask prices, but they seemed to have at least a few decent beers.

The "corkage" ends up being basically glass-rental, for $1 per glass. Of course I generally prefer straight-up BYOB, but I can't really complain too much about that. In the grand scheme of things, that's not much money if I want to bring my own, and in many cases I'm sure I'll just buy their beer.

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#96 Buckethead

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Posted 12 September 2011 - 01:17 PM

Has anyone noticed that the food at Han Dynasty is missing the Szechuan peppercorns recently? Someone made this complaint a month or two ago but I hadn't been recently. I went a couple days ago and had several dishes which have in the past had szechuan peppercorns in them (mapo tofu, dan dan noodles, the cabbage side dish), and the tongue-numbing, brain-pleasing effect was absent from all of them. Their absence was obvious in the cabbage dish because they were visible in the dish last time I had it.

Edited by Buckethead, 12 September 2011 - 01:18 PM.


#97 Tim Dolan

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 01:05 PM

I haven't been to Old City in a few months, but I did hit up the Royersford location two weekends ago. They offered a pickled chili and garlic braised pork shoulder as a special and it was phenomenal. It was a huge hunk of bone-in pork shoulder, complete with a thick sheen of meltingly soft pork fat, bathed in a mildly spicy (by Han's standards) chili-garlic sauce. The pork fat was amazing. It was like rich pork butter. Mmmmm, pork butter. I would slather that stuff on everything if I could. The ensuing clogging of my arteries probably took a year or two off of my life, but it's not like I'm trying to life forever or anything.
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#98 Andrew Fenton

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 04:18 AM

Has anyone noticed that the food at Han Dynasty is missing the Szechuan peppercorns recently? Someone made this complaint a month or two ago but I hadn't been recently. I went a couple days ago and had several dishes which have in the past had szechuan peppercorns in them (mapo tofu, dan dan noodles, the cabbage side dish), and the tongue-numbing, brain-pleasing effect was absent from all of them. Their absence was obvious in the cabbage dish because they were visible in the dish last time I had it.


I had the dry fried pork last night. Definitely had Szechuan peppercorns in it. Good stuff!

#99 percyn

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Posted 10 October 2011 - 04:37 PM

Went with a group and along with some regular items (authentic Kung Pao, Fish dry pot, wontons in chili oil, lion head meatballs, 3 cup chicken, etc) we also ordered garlic shrimp with a touch of spice, which was surprisingly nice.

#100 lfabio2007

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 09:56 AM

We were here a few weeks ago... a saturday for lunch. And we noticed the same thing: no peppercorns. And the food was ...ok, but not up to our previous visits.

#101 philadining

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 01:17 PM

Ate here just the other day and forgot to ask Han about this issue. I can't say I recall seeing any actual sichuan peppercorns, but I certainly tasted them! I suppose it's possible that they're using it more in a ground form or infused in oil, who knows, maybe people were freaked out by crunching down on them. In any case, I definitely detected the flavor.

In other news: Beer Duck.

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#102 Andrew Fenton

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 03:03 PM

Ate here just the other day and forgot to ask Han about this issue. I can't say I recall seeing any actual sichuan peppercorns, but I certainly tasted them! I suppose it's possible that they're using it more in a ground form or infused in oil, who knows, maybe people were freaked out by crunching down on them. In any case, I definitely detected the flavor.


This is a good point: I didn't see any peppercorns in the dry-fried pork, but the flavor was definitely there.

I gotta try the beer duck.

#103 philadining

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 12:44 PM

In one of the more unlikely pairings I've ever encountered, Han did a guest-chef event at Le Ben Fin on Monday, October 24, 2011. Much like his earlier collaboration with David Ansill and Sam Jacobson, there were upscale interpretations of traditional Chinese dishes, integrations of luxe ingredients into conventional Sichuan recipes, and a few novel fusions.

Some dishes were clearly from Le Bec's chef Nicholas Elmi, using Chinese ingredients and flavors in more traditional Le Bec Fin-styled plates. Others were clearly Han Dynasty dishes, employing some unexpected elements. We laughed about how those preparations were probably the first dishes ever to be served family-style at Le Bec Fin.

Overall, I thought it was a great success: the food was both interesting and delicious, and there seemed to be a consistently full-house all night. In the final analysis, was this food better than the more traditional versions at Han Dynasty? Hard to say... maybe not... but it WAS quite good, and I'm always up for trying a new twist on an old idea.

I have to admit that it seemed a bit surreal to be eating Sichuan food under the chandeliers of Le Bec Fin, tables set with multiple forks and elegant china, elegant servers delivering plates with synchronized precision. No dramatic reveals from under silver domes, but hey...

The first course was clearly a Le Bec take on the cuisine:
Tea Smoked Duck Brochette, with Duck consummé poured at the table.

HanLeBec-Duck1.jpg

Skewered pieces of Duck Breast, Duck Liver and Duck Heart were suspended over a classic broth and modern foam, for a dish that wasn't as overtly Chinese-tasting as many of the courses, but was nonetheless quite delicious.

Pork and Snail Buns was a bit more Chinese-feeling. I suppose one could find something like this at a creative dim sum place, but I can't say that I've ever seen that combination before. I hope to see it again sometime!

HanLeBec-Buns1.jpg

HanLeBec-Buns2.jpg


Pork Belly with Long-Hot Salsa Verde
featured rich, tender, slightly crispy chunks of rich pork belly, a mysterious spicy powder, and an assertively hot green sauce, buzzing with the flavor of fresh chili. Sampling all elements together made for an exciting and original flavor.

HanLeBec-PB3.jpg

HanLeBec-PB2.jpg

Dry Pepper Foie Gras took one of Han's traditional preparations and substituted luxuriously creamy foie gras for the more typical meats or fish one usually sees in this dish. And it worked! I'm willing to be that this was the spiciest thing ever served in Le Bec Fin...

HanLeBec-Foie1.jpg

"Eddie's Kung Pao Chicken" was obviously a Le Bec Fin dish - an expertly-prepared, tender piece of chicken, served over peanuts, with an elegant sauce reminiscent of the traditional Kung Pao sauce. Perfectly pleasant, even elegant, but a little dull...

HanLeBec-KungPow1.jpg

HanLeBec-KungPow2.jpg

There was a bit of a delay before the last dish, and Han admitted that they were slowed down a little by a technical issue: they were having some trouble getting the level of heat that he's used to getting from the intense wok-burners one has in Chinese kitchens. So our Crispy Sweetbreads in Garlic Sauce weren't all that crispy (also - they might have been rushing our order a bit - one of our party had a deadline...) They were nonetheless pretty tasty, but I definitely would have liked a bit of crunch...

HanLeBec-Sweetbreads.jpg

No texture problems with the dessert: Sichuan Peppercorn Ice Cream with mango puree and black pepper.

HanLeBec-Dessert.jpg

The version that appeared at the earlier collaboration dinner with Sam Jacobson and David Ansill was SO loaded with peppercorns that one's tongue went into an immediate numb, buzzy, tingly spasm. It was kind of cool, but probably a bit much. This rendition, as one might expect, was a little more subtle! I probably would have enjoyed a tiny bit more peppercorn flavor, but as it was, especially combined with the fruity stripe on the plate and some powdered black pepper, it was quite delicious, and a fitting end to a very interesting meal.

So congrats to Han and to Nicholas Elmi for pulling off what was likely a challenging concept. And thanks to the folks at Le Bec Fin for wanting to do it in the first place. We were a little afraid that they'd throw Han out after he started cursing, but then remembered that they're probably used to that...

I'm not sure that any monumental culinary revelations were reached during this experiment, but some tasty dishes resulted. I'm really glad to have been there to experience them!

(edit typos... )

Edited by philadining, 25 October 2011 - 12:46 PM.


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#104 percyn

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 07:15 PM

So bummed I missed this :sad:

#105 mod*betty

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 03:53 PM

Saw this last night on Twitter "@handynastyphila: Opening Han Dynasty in Manayunk this friday! Free Dan Dan for everyone!!!! "


http://www.philly.co...o-Manayunk.html


We'll be out of town for the holiday so we'll miss the free Dan Dan, but hope you folks can enjoy!
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#106 KatieLoeb

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 02:15 PM

Han stopped by my bar last night for a drink/bite with a few of his crew. Manayunk is going strong and he's spending a bit more time up there now. I'll have to go check it out next time I'm up that way visiting the corporate offices of my new employers. Everyone I know that lives up that way is beyond excited, though.

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#107 KatieLoeb

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 04:14 PM

OMG. Oh no he Dih-Unht!! Oh yes, yes he did. Loyal Han Dynasty fan and local musician Brad Podray has written a rap song, well rhapsodizing his love for Han Dynasty.

Han Dynasty Rap

This was posted on Foobooz today. I thought they were kidding. This is awesome. Not many restarateurs can claim that their customers write songs about them. Just sayin'. Go Han! Your peeps love you, brother.

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#108 SaxChik

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 11:13 AM

No love for the alpha site in Exton. :( Otherwise, very cool!


OMG. Oh no he Dih-Unht!! Oh yes, yes he did. Loyal Han Dynasty fan and local musician Brad Podray has written a rap song, well rhapsodizing his love for Han Dynasty.

Han Dynasty Rap

This was posted on Foobooz today. I thought they were kidding. This is awesome. Not many restarateurs can claim that their customers write songs about them. Just sayin'. Go Han! Your peeps love you, brother.


"The perfect lover is one who turns into pizza at 4am."
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#109 KatieLoeb

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 02:04 PM

Are they offended by the song, or just offended they got left out? :unsure:

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#110 SaxChik

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 02:06 PM

I'll have to go to Han's in Exton and ask. I was a little sad they left Exton out. But hey, to most folks in Philly, Exton's the sticks. :)

Are they offended by the song, or just offended they got left out? :unsure:


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#111 philadining

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 03:54 PM

I suspect the songwriter just forgot (or didn't know) about the original location.

Edited by philadining, 17 February 2012 - 03:55 PM.


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