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Pete Wells doesn't like Han Dynasty

OK, this is about a restaurant in NYC. But since it's a Philly transplant, hopefully the chowhound censors will let us discuss this pretty negative review (in contrast to others who have been quite positive):

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/22/din...

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  1. My husband always orders the 3 cup chicken and it's anything but sweet. When you cook rice wine vinegar and soy it will make it a bit sweeter than when used as a condiment. And not sure what "snap" he's talking about with the DD noodles, but they're about the best thing I've ever eaten. Almost sounds like he was going in expecting the worst. Maybe because a lowly Philly restaurant showed up in Manhattan? Now I have to go to HD (Royersford) for lunch!

    3 Replies
    1. re: bugablue13

      I've always enjoyed my lunches at Royersford!

      1. re: bugablue13

        Maybe because a lowly Philly restaurant showed up in Manhattan?
        __________________
        No, because it is truly far below the quality of the top 4-5 Sichuan restaurants already in NYC. Han clearly did not survey the NY scene and try something bolder.

        1. re: scoopG

          Han clearly figured out a formula for selling lots of Szechuan food in both Philly and New York. He's killing it up there.

      2. I have a brother who's had a number of restaurants in the NY/NJ area that have been reviewed by Pete Wells. My brother's take on Pete Wells is that he is more biased than any other reviewer in the NY/NJ papers. I'd take what he says with more than one grain of salt!

        1. Sounds like he may have hit it on an off night. Han Dynasty definitely has consistency issues, at least the Philly locations.

          Honestly I would probably be skeptical if some out of town chain came into Philly and it was suddenly all hyped up as the next best thing--especially if it's a cuisine we already do pretty well. That's how I felt about Shake Shack and Serafina anyway.

          1. Han himself has been quoted as saying that he has consistency issues. And he would rather train a US born chef than to work with chefs he has brought over from China, (do not know if he brings chefs over from Sichuan province or not.. ).

            For a competing review of the restaurant this review appeared in NY Magazine. http://www.grubstreet.com/2013/10/pla...

            1. Wells was unhappy that he didn't get cursed-at.

              1 Reply
              1. re: sal_acid

                I suppose there is always this possibility.

              2. Han responds...

                http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/th...

                I found it pretty ironic that Wells singled out the Dan Dan Noodles as a clunker since that seems to be the one dish that is always mentioned on this board as a "must order".

                4 Replies
                1. re: Philly Ray

                  It's not just on this board, everyone seems to go Ga Ga over HD's Dan Dan noodles. Personally, I like them, but for me the dish to go Ga Ga over at any Sichuan restaurant is Lazi ji (what Han calls in his own unique way "dry pepper style chicken with chili sauce"--no one else in the world calls this classic dish that name!).

                  The first time I had it at Han Dynasty OC, actually at a wine dinner Delucacheesemonger organized on this board, it was the best version I have ever had to date, and I eat a lot of Sichuan. It was so melt-in-your-mouth tender inside the crispy exterior, you would think it was a fish dish, and not oily at all.

                  But that was back when Han spent all his time at OC. Now he has UC and NYC and... As I said earlier, the last time I had it a couple of months ago at the new OC location, it was completely the opposite.

                  1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                    Just remembered I had the "dry pepper style shrimp" at HD Royersford recently, and I thought that was really good. Not sure why I never ordered it before, other than the dish is traditionally chicken.

                    1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                      Hot Kitchen on 2nd Ave in the E. Village makes a better dry pepper chicken than HD. In my experience, the HD in Philly and NYC are identical.

                    2. re: Philly Ray

                      I have had Han's Dan Dan Noodle also because people recommended it. Not particularly impressive in m opinion.

                      1. re: scoopG

                        Funny reading some of those NY posts! Lots of mentioning that Han's food is "Americanized". What do they think has happened to Italian, French, Spanish, etc., cooking here in the states? How about something as simple as pizza? For us Philly folks, how many of you eat cheesesteaks in NY, or Chicago, or San Francisco? How about what a hoagie morfs into when you get a "sub" or "hero" elsewhere? Regional cooking is just that - regional!

                        1. re: bucksguy14

                          As I said before, who cares if it is authentic, as long as it tastes good?

                          1. re: bucksguy14

                            Not to mention the humble fish taco, San Diego's culinary contribution to the world, which is now as common in Portland, Maine as it is in Encinitas.

                        2. I have enjoyed dinner at Han Dynasty but, honestly, there are not very many Szechuan restaurants in Philly. NYC has had lots of really good Szechuan restaurants going back almost 40 years when I lived there. (Jeez, can't believe it's that long.)

                          1. Had dinner at the Old City location weekend before last, and the Double-cooked Fish was just as good as I remembered it. To be fair, Pete Wells didn't exactly hate Han Dynasty (see his Guy Fieri Times Square review for that). He just didn't think the wings were worth a 45 minute wait.

                            I might agree with him, but I've never had to wait 45 minutes for a table, since I've only eaten at the bar. And I would happily be there tonight if I didn't live in Massachusetts, eating more Double-cooked Fish than I should probably stuff in my mouth except I can't ever help myself.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: edub23

                              But if you live in MA, you can go to Sichuan Gourmet in Billerica (or Framingham, skip the one in Brookline), which leaves HD in the dust.

                              1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                                Yeah, MA isn't that big, but I'm pretty far away from both those places. I'll put the Framingham location on my list, though. Used to go there fairly frequently when they had the only Trader Joe's in a hundred miles.

                            2. The only Han Dynasty location I've visited is Cherry Hill, NJ, and I was really disappointed. We had the rabbit appetizer, which was delicious but impossible to eat because it was bone-in and chopped into tiny (like 1/2 inch or smaller) pieces. Both of our entrees were underwhelming and underspiced, even though I ordered mine as a "10" on their heat scale. Is this one "dumbed-down" for the perception of a less-adventurous Jersey diner? Did I get an off-night?