Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Too Hot to Cook! Han Dynasty

It's summer here in suburban South Jersey and, as expected, it's hot!  I bet it's even a bit steamier across the river in Philly with all her sidewalks and bricks and buildings.  Regardless of how hot it is, the kind folks of Jersey and Philly still have to eat, right?  Well, when the thought of turning on the oven or heating a pan up on the stove is just unbearable, I think thoughts of...take out!  A simple solution to eating in summer's heat besides visiting the grain parade and making lettuce burritos or Krispy Kale Farro Cakes, is, of course, going *out* to dinner!  Let's take a look at some awesome veg-friendly restaurants in my South Jersey neighborhood, and avoid turning on our ovens for yet another day...
Welcome to the restaurant review series, Too Hot to Cook!

Too Hot to Cook, Episode One: Han Dynasty in Cherry Hill, NJ

I paid a visit to my favorite village, Saw Mill Village (404 Rte. 70 W, Cherry Hill, NJ)!

There's just something so weird and Disney about this sign.  I love it.

This unassuming little plaza right on Rte. 70 in Cherry Hill houses three really outstanding restaurants that all offer veggie friendly dishes:
K-Town (Korean), Kuzina (Greek) and Han Dynasty (Szechuan)
I love how smoke from the BBQ is coming out of K-Town!

K-Town and Kuzina Platters:
Since I've already talked about K-Town and Kuzina a bit, I decided to try out Han Dynasty.  
For posterity, of course.
The online menu is here, click on Cherry Hill and the menu will open.  

Han Dynasty
Cold Noodles with Chili Oil and Long Hot Pepper with Tofu 

For the spice lovers out there, get ready for the newly opened Han Dynasty, a Cherry Hill location of the popular Sichuan joints in Philly.  Those of you in Philly have already been enjoying Han Dynasty in Old City and  University City.  HD has lots of great veg-friendly options on their menu.  Appetizers include Spicy Crispy Cucumber, Cold Noodles with Chili Oil (AMAZING) or Sesame Oil, and there are several entrees that list tofu as a protein choice (Hot Style Sauce, Pickled Chili Style, Long Hot Pepper and Garlic Sauce Style).

The manager of this location is an absolute expert in customer service who cares intensely about his customers and their experiences at Han Dynasty.  I spoke to him at length about whether vegan orders would be possible, and, indeed, they are! Let him know if you need your dish to be vegan and he will ensure it is modified to meet your requirements.  Now that's service!

Onto the food...

The Cold Noodles with Chili Sauce were rich, savory, and spicy with a complex, sweet note (sesame paste?), garlic and chili oil added the necessary pungency and spiciness.  They were toothsome with the perfect amount of sauce, and they didn't even clump together as one might expect.  They are listed as a 7 (out of 10) for heat, which, surprisingly, did not feel very hot to me.  The heat is front of the mouth, not searing or lasting and totally pleasant.  I wonder if the Philadelphia locations make their food hotter and spicier than the NJ location because I certainly wasn't crying spicy tears like the Philly reviewers on Yelp!  Hubby says the Cold Noodles w/ Chili Sauce taste just like their famous Dan Dan Noodles (read HD's Yelp reviews and you'll see what I mean), but without the pork.  Actually, he liked them better than the Dan Dan noodles.

The Long Hot Pepper Tofu was firm, had a nice bite to it and enough of what seemed a garlicky soy based sauce.  I'm a big fan of the long hot pepper treatment, and actually would have loved lots more peppers added into the dish with the generous portion of tofu, but that's just me.  The only source of heat in this dish seemed to come from the peppers themselves, and that makes sense since this dish is rated as a 3 of 10 on the HD heat scale.  Tasty!

I really enjoyed both dishes, though I could have stood for more heat and more peppers.  I know I can certainly ask for more of both next time!  The flavors are big, the menu is interesting with lots of options, the manager is enthusiastic and accommodating, and the ambiance is lovely for dining-in.
Excellent overall.

Han Dynasty

For more suburban veg-friendly offerings in the area, check out this week's column V For Veg in The Philadelphia Daily News and on  I have a feeling you'll like it!  And, to those of you V4V readers that are visiting Vegan Fazool for the first time, welcome! I hope VF is everything you've ever dreamed about.

Next up on Too Hot to Cook...the NJ location of the Sang Kee Noodle House.
 See you soon!

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