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Nov 29, 2010 01:46 PM

Han Dynasty of Philadelphia

I usually spend Thanksgiving with Mrs. Doc's family in Philadelphia. This year was no exception as to geography. We have had some very memorable meals here. One being a Carmine Creole in Narbeth. restaurant ,4 years ago.

This time I feel compelled to report a Szechuan experience way beyond expectations. As good if not better than the best I have had.

I am told this place has been open for 9 months and from what I read there is no liquor license. I did not ask because we were not drinking.

The menu prints the relative heat of a dish on a scale of 1-10.

We started with Beef in Hot style sauce. 7 on the spice scale.
Rich medley of balanced spicy flavors. Quite hot.

Pork in garlic style sauce. Shreded in a rich sweet and spicy gravy. Not as spicy strong, but complex and delicious.

MaPo Tofu. Here the blend of spices really sing. The heat develops as you eat. I had described this dish in a restaurant in the suburbs of Chicago (near the Morton Arbouretum) as a little bowl of heaven. This was a home run.

Lastly we were presented with Taiwanese sausage with thin slices (ala Goodfella's when in prison) of fresh garlic. A tasty, somewhat sweet with a crispy skin red sausage.

My first ever disclaimer in my several years of chowhounding. One of the managers is my nephew through marriage. He is the tall handsome non Asian. We were fully expecting to pay for our meal, but were surprised to find that the meal was being comped by the owner.

One last note is that it is one block from the famous Franklin Fountain Ice Cream Parlour. That has appeared on the best thing I ever ate.

Han Dynasty
108 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106-3009
(215) 922-1888

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  1. thanks for the report! ill be sure to try to mapo tofu next time

    my favorites are han dynasty are the noodles (both sesame and dan dan) and the twice fried fish. my family in north jersey actually will drive to philly (2h) just to get takeout from han's that good! and surprisingly, even the fried fish travels well and isn't a soggy mess a few hours later

    1. Han giveth and Han taketh away. For all of the wonderful meals now being served at Han Dynasty in Philly, the Exton location has been neglected to the point of being an embarrassment to Han's dining empire.

      8 Replies
      1. re: CindyJ

        Royersford is still yummy, though. The authentic dishes are far superior to the Americanized ones.

        1. re: isadorasmama

          That's what I've heard. It's just the Exton Location that's gone from wonderful to awful.

        2. re: CindyJ

          After reading this thread and a few others, I was very hesitant to try Han Dynasty in Exton for the first time today - but, I have to report back and say that we had an amazing meal. Granted, I have nothing to compare it to - but, based on today I would definitely recommend it. Thanks to some of the recommendations here, we loaded up on the Scallion Pancake, Wonton in Chili Oil, Three Cup Chicken, Chicken with Hot Dry Peppers and Sliced Fish with Tofu in Wild Pepper Sauce.

          We had very friendly service - helping to guide us to some great dishes. The hostess/owner? seemed impressed that we had devoured the three cup chicken (taiwanese - served on the bone, as she had recommended) - and she even dug into the bowl to find a few missing pieces we had mistakenly left behind. I did see that others who were asking for special requests off the americanized menu were not getting the same love from the staff ("can you combine the egg drop and hot & sour soups in the same bowl? can you take out the peppers from the hunan chicken?")... but, we found everyone to be really nice and helpful.

          1. re: rumorsofsurf

            This sounds promising! I'll be spending more time in ChesCo (I think!), and would love to explore Han's menu more, but recent posts have led me to think Exton was a lost cause.

            Any other recent input?

          2. re: CindyJ

            i didnt even know exton had a han dynasty

            1. re: stevemick1323

              Actually if was the FIRST of the Han Dynasty's and there is one in Royersford too.. Han is johnny come lately to Old City. you can learn more about his restaurants at

     (and no its not pronounced handy nasty no matter what Craig LeBan Says)

              1. re: stevemick1323

                Yes, the Exton location is what first landed Han Dynasty in Philly Mag's top 50 a few years was the start of everything. Yum....hankering for some dan dan noodles and shrimp with dry hot peppers now....

                1. re: yummykimmy

                  ive been meaning to try the one in old city....i love spicy chinese food! sounds like this might be the place for me

            2. Thanks for your report - and the admission of the comped meal which of course did not influence your review! This place has come up before on this board as one of the best Chinese restaurants in Philadelphia so it is #1 on my go-to list. Are the owners from Taiwan?

              1 Reply
              1. re: scoopG

                When introduced to Han, his nationality did not come up in the conversation. He was very polite and cordial. I am sure he will discuss it if you were to ask. And the comped meal was a complete surprise, totally unexpected. In my 20 pages of past posts this is my first disclaimer. I would like other hounds to tell me their favorites and anything that was not that great. I may have to drive in to Philadelphia from Long Island more frequently.
                My nephew was raised in Philadelphia. His mom in Brooklyn.

              2. Have to admit that once the Royersford location opened, I have not been back to Exton. Now with the Philly location I imagine that Han is stretched a bit thin and is probably taking the stellar staff to the newest locations. I do miss having Han present in the restaurant recommending dishes...but the dan dan noodles and the shrimp with dry hot peppers are my absolute favorite foods.

                1 Reply
                1. re: yummykimmy

                  I agree that Han is stretched thin with the Philly location now open and doing well. I was happy to deal with his mother at the helm during Philly opening but now she's gone, too. I still love the place but Han needs to stop in more often to recommend dishes to his of the reasons I kept coming back.

                2. Han Dynasty is visited for spicy food on this weeks MEAT AND POTATOES.