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philadining

Han Dynasty Center City

111 posts in this topic

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.


"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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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.

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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 (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/the-insider/Han-Dynasty-to-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!


<a href='http://retroroadmap.com' target='_blank'>Retro Roadmap - All the Retro, Vintage and Cool Old places worth visiting!</a>

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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.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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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.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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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."

Charles Pierce

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


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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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:


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

Charles Pierce

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


Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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