Newest Han Dynasty heats up Manayunk food scene

Main Street diners got an early holiday gift.  Han Dynasty, a spicy chili oil infused Chinese adventure opened at 4356 Main Street in Manayunk two days before Christmas. Restauranteur Han Chiang announced the opening with a lone Tweet, offering up free Dan Dan noodles at the new location.

While the location is new, the Manayunk eatery is the fourth Han Dynasty restaurant, the second in Philadelphia. The Han Dynsasty at 108 Chestnut Street in Old City will remain open and share a menu with the Manayunk location.

The space previously housed a Chinese restaurant and the old sign still hangs outside. The sign will eventually come down and there will be a grand opening in 2 or 3 months after more renovations, including changes in the kitchen and additional seating. “I hope people don’t come in very serious, its a soft opening,” said Chiang.

Notoriously blunt, but endlessly passionate about his food, Chiang said that if customers are willing to try something different they will be rewarded. Each dish is carefully composed, the flavors paired for delicious and complex effect.  “Chinese food is very complicated” he explained.

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If you can’t take the heat, don’t worry.  There’s room in the kitchen for you. “We also have non-spicy stuff for the wimps,” said Chiang. Dishes like cold sesame noodles and tofu with garlic sauce are described as “sweet, sour and spicy” but the heat only peaks at a 3 out of 10. Chiang’s fiery food has plenty of loyal fans. Tom and Heather Roth of Manayunk have been hooked on Han Dynasty for months but the trek to Old City was a pain. The new location in their neighborhood was almost too good to be true. “When we saw it from afar we thought it was a mirage and the whole thing was a dream and they really weren’t opening, but then we saw the manager and Han–so we knew we’d come to the right place,” said Tom Roth.Even fellow restauranteurs stopped in for the free Dan Dan noodles given out that day. David Howard, manager of Gemelli’s, popped in to welcome Han to the neighborhood and sample his dishes for the first time. Howard said he was never been able to get into the Old City location–it was too crowded.  “You just made living in Manayunk even better,” he quipped to Han.  Chiang said he plans to open his next Han Dynasty in University City and use electronic tablets to let customers order their food, play games and post to Twitter and Facebook while waiting for their food. 

Don’t expect the University City location to be his last. “It’s all a lot of fun for me, I can’t stop”.

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