DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – The popular Philadelphia-based Szechuan restaurant chain, Han Dynasty, has opened a location at Dekalb Market Hall, bringing its signature spicy dishes and hip ambiance to Downtown Brooklyn.
Opened three weeks ago, Han Dynasty is still in its soft opening phase, but you’d never guess by how packed the restaurant was Saturday at 7pm. Tables were filled with families, couples, and groups grabbing a bite post-shopping or pre-movie from the upper levels of City Point. When we arrived, we were told it would be an approximately twenty-minute wait for a table for two, so my dinner date and I found a spot at the bar to wait it out. The two bartenders, Mike and Gina, were so friendly, we decided to cancel our table and have our dinner at the bar instead.
The menu offers cold appetizers—the spicy crispy cucumber, pork belly with sweet garlic chili oil sauce, and chicken in chili oil are highly recommended; and hot appetizers—the pork dumplings and pork wontons, both in chili oil, are popular choices, as are the pork belly buns which are not yet available at the Brooklyn location.
Along with a selection of chef specials and vegetable offerings on the menu, there are various noodle dishes to choose from, but Han Dynasty is known for its Dan Dan noodles which are fiery and delicious.
Each entree is marked with a number from one to ten to indicate its spiciness/hotness level (1 is mild, 10 is hot). The dishes are prepared in various styles, such as dry pot, dry pepper, and hot sauce—which are higher on the heat index, while the garlic sauce, salt ‘n pepper, and Kung Pao styles are milder. Diners select a protein (i.e. chicken, pork, beef, lamb, fish, shrimp, tofu) for their entrees and can adjust the heat level if they are wary of chili peppers.
Service is super efficient, with food being delivered quickly. We ordered chicken Cumin style (cumin-crusted and stir fried with bell peppers, dry peppers, long hots, cilantro, and onions) and the eggplant with garlic sauce—both were so flavorful we had no problem cleaning our plates. We also ordered the tea-smoked duck in beer which was presented in a mini wok over a flame. While the couple of bites of duck I had were savory, I wish the portions had more meat on them than bone.
The ambiance of the restaurant is trendy and cool—not your typical Chinatown spot, with an intricate network of pipes visible on the ceiling overhead and exposed red lightbulbs dangling above the bar. Asian coins and landscape drawings adorn the surface of the centrally situated bar and eclectic artwork hangs from the walls.
Han Dynasty is a perfect dining experience if you like your Chinese food spicy and served in a fun and friendly environment.