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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Han Dynasty

Han Dynasty
Price: $$
Forks: 8.5

108 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA

I don't know about you, but I'm all about the spice. While I can't handle the spiciest ass–kicking hot stuff in the world, I definitely appreciate my food with a potent kick. Han Dynasty takes my mentality to a whole new level, ten levels in fact, as they are serving up dishes with ten different heat ratings, ranging from 1–10, in an attempt to knock you off yo feet. Let me just say, they succeed. I was brought to Han Dynasty for my brother Jake's surprise birthday party, because Chinese is his fave food ever.
Since we were over eight people, we went with the tasting menu, which takes you through the different levels of sauces and gives you a great tasting of almost the whole menu. Let's begin. Brace yourself, it;s about to get spicy.
Our meal kicked off with the Spicy Crispy Cucumbers, cold cukes served in a sweet and *certaintly* spicey dressing. The cold crunch paired with the heat of the spices made for a deceitfully divine bite. They were addicting as you'd keep eating more to cool yourself down because they were cold, but then you'd get a kick in the head from the heat reminding you how spicay they were. Awesome. I love food that messes with your mind.
Next came the Dan Dan and Sesame noodles. The Dan Dan's were warm and served in a spicy chili sauce. Think less-greasy lomaine with a punch. The cold Sesame noodles were a nice contrast and I ate them in rotation to cool my trembling tongue down. They were filled with scallions and a sweet sesame flavor, imparting welcome nutty hints with each bite.

Then came the Dumplings and Wontons in chili oil. I think they were stuffed with some kind of pork and shrimp mixture and while their sauce was quite oily, they were fantastic. The dough encompassing the filling was light and had a melt-in-your-mouth velvet texture that stole the show.
We were fed some vegetables before our inundation of meats occurred. The String Beans with Minced pork had killah texture; crinkled and tender yet still maintaining a bite. Minced pork scattered through the dish added a porky bite that while taking the fresh springyness out of the green vegetables, turend it into something totally new and smokey. We were popping these in our mouths like popcorn.
The Bok Choy with Black Mushrooms was eh. Too saucy 4 me with no real distinct flavor. Just tasted like sauce. I'll pass.
Now its time to get meaty. Like real meaty. First came the Chicken cooked in the Long Hot Pepper Style, with a sauce rating of 3. It had a touch of heat that came off as more of a tang, and the brown sauce coating it all was intensely rich like a hoisin, but lighter overall.
The Three Cup Chicken was sickeningly good. It was sweet and had a carmelized coating that was both crunchy and softly tender. Its that dish that you always eat too much of because you keep wanting the flavor to stay with you after you finish eating it. Ya its heavy, but ya you can deal.This with some white rice was pure perfection.
LETS GET REAL SPICY. They next brough out the Dry Pot Style Chicken, rated a solid 10 on their scale, aka the hottest of the hot. It came served in a sizzling mini wok and cooked in a spicy hot pot sauce with black mushrooms, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, and Sichuan peppercorns. So if you avoided the red then you could handle it. If you ate the red, say a prayer, look to God, and find some water/milk/sugar immedieatley. Despite it's heat, it still had a strong flavor. The heat wasn't so spicy that it was unnecessary; it truly added depth.
Then we were told we were taking it down a notch, with the Dry Pepper Style Chicken, rated an 8. It was triple flash fried with long hot and dry chili peppers. It looked like it was coated in red sprinkles. But those red sprinkles were chilis. All I have to say is that I think the system is messed up. After I handled the 10 I though an 8 would be cake. SURPRIZE. No. This is the deadliest of the dead. It's hot in a way I've never felt before. Your lips will tingle, your tongue will tremble, you will form beads of sweat on your forehead/other places. And the worst part is, you'll like it, want more of it, and become trapped in this sick cycle of devestatingly hot yet enamored passion of eating.
After came the Pork Belly in the Double Cooked Style, a 4 rating, with leeks, hot peppers, fermented black beans and chili oil. Pork Belly is one of God's gifts to humans. This dish was thin slices of pork belly in a simple sauce that let the true star, the pork, shine. Its basically bacon chinese style, and I love it.
Ya there were some more but I think you guys get the idea. To be honest, I don't LOVE Chinese Food *don't hit me*. Han Dynasty, however, kind of changed my mind. Usually I find Chinese too saucy and unnecessarily greasy, which at Han, wasn't the case. Other places Chinese food tastes like Chinese food, I can't distinguish anything and can barely identify if I'm eating sesame chicken or beef and broccoli because their so saucy/oily. At Han, every spice had a reason for being there. Besides being seasoned excellently, the ingredients and build of the dish were actually good. If you don't got the basics, you got nothing. Han's got the basics, the heat, and then some. Go, bring a lot of peeps and do the tasting menu and see if YOU can handle the spice.

hip hip, HAN!

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