Dan Dan Noodles at Han Dynasty, you are quite the authentic dish! Can you tell us where you hail from?
I’m a traditional Chinese street food and my particular recipe is Szechuan, so I am spicy and saucy. But much like your kind, Dan Dan come in all kinds of flavors and colors, with or without sauce, spicy or mild.
So you might visit three different restaurants serving Dan Dan and have three different dishes?
Exactly! I got my start with street vendors carrying two baskets—one with noodles, the other with sauce—on either end of a pole hoisted across their shoulders. This action in Chinese is called “dan dan.” Each vendor prepares their noodles differently according to their location, available ingredients and preferences.
Fans of Han Dynasty claim that owner Han Chiang sprinkles crack on you because you’re so irresistible. Can you set the record straight on exactly what ingredients hook these addicts?
Really, I’m just fresh noodles, from the frozen section of your local Asian grocer, topped with my sauce made of sesame paste, chili oil, soy sauce, a bit of sugar and minced pork. On Chiang’s “spice scale” I’m a six out of 10, but he’s happy to prepare me with as much or as little heat as you like.
You sound like a straight-forward dish, but do you have any special techniques that help make you the most popular menu item?
My minced pork is pre-cooked with preserved veggies, which are packed with a lot of salty, flavorful goodness. Chef Chiang stir fries my pork with the veggies and soy sauce and then adds the pork to my sesame sauce.
What’s the best way to enjoy you?
Well, I’m mixed table-side so you can revel in a steamy flavor bath before you even taste me. Sip an IPA, Chef’s choice, for an extra “flavor explosion,” as Chiang likes to put it.
Han Dynasty, 108 Chestnut St. 215.922.1888. handynasty.net
PW's Taste of Philly 2014