Restaurant: Han Dynasty
Location: 3711 Market st, Philadelphia PA. tel. (215) 222 3711
Date: November 21, 2012 & November 26, 2014
Cuisine: Szechuan Chinese
Rating: Spicy Goodness
Every year, we Gavins converge on Philadelphia for the annual ThanksGavin, and every year it starts out with the “Wednesday night dinner.” This time around, we ended up at Han Dynasty, a downtown Szechuan Chinese restaurant. I love Szechuan, but rarely see it. In China, I’ve had meals that were so spicy delicious that your life flashed before your eyes.
Knowing we were up for some Szechuan, I dragged some Riesling across the country in my handy winecheck bag.
Parker 92, “The detail, refinement, and lift that characterize the best of 2007 were reason enough, Rebholz said, for him to essay some residually sweet Riesling, otherwise, I’d rather leave that to the Mosel vintners. The 7.5% alcohol of his 2007 Riesling Spatlese Vom Buntsandstein indeed puts one in mind of the Mosel, as well as on notice that this will be wine of delicacy and very high residual sugar. It is also impressively endowed with ripe quince and wafting lily and gardenia perfume, and manages to keep its sweetness balanced so as not to tip into sheer confection, but instead to exhibit seamless purity and nectar-like lusciousness. It should be worth watching for a dozen or more years, and in fact I would personally not even care to revisit it for 6-8 years.”
We ordered up a deluxe ($30 a person) tasting menu for 16.
This super sweet Auslese from my cellar went perfectly with all the chili. Quince preserves, baked apple, lily, gardenia, and hints of caramel and vanilla mark the nose of the Prum 2007 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese. With richness yet delicacy and lift it saturates the palate with rich fruit, liquid flowers, vanilla cream, and savory, saline, shrimp shell reduction-like mineral essences. This intense, pure, subtly and truly nobly botrytized Auslese has umami with a capital “U.”
Dan Dan Noodles. This isn’t the crazy hot traditional version of the dish. Sure, it had plenty of heat, but it also had a nice sweet nutty sesame taste.
Ma Po Tofu. One of my favorite dishes in general, and while this rendition was a touch too salty, it was still fabulous.
Cumin style lamb. Cumin-crusted and stir fried with bell peppers, dry peppers, and onions. Strongly flavored of cumin as you’d suspect with a nice heat. This was excellent, although it wasn’t as good as a cousin of the dish I once had in western China that was drier, on sticks. That one was bright red and relentlessly, throat burningly hot. It was also one of the best lamb dishes I’ve ever had.
Spicy Hot Pot. Beware, like most Han Dynasty food, it was hot two ways (temperature and spicy). There was all sorts of goodness in there. Mostly chicken and a bit of seafood. This had some schezuan peppercorns.
This was a fantastic Chinese feast. Sure, it burned through my whole GI for 36 hours, but it was worth it. A worthy addition to the catalog of great Wed night ThanksGavin openings. Commenting two years later, and many many great Chinese meals under my belt, I’d have to say this is solid Schezuan style food, a tad modernized, and good stuff. One complaint on my second go (2014) was that they brought all the food in two giant waves, an “appetizer” and “entree” wave. The first time each item came out more or less on its own. This is way too many dishes for a big barrage.