Spicy Szichuan Food at Han Dynasty in Philadelphia

China Memories over Chinese Food

In China, Food Tripping by Daryl & Mindi Hirsch50 Comments

We are feeling sentimental as we approach the five-year anniversary of our first trip to China.  So what better way to reminisce about our China memories than with spicy Sichuan food!

Spicy Sichuan Food at Han Dynasty in Philadelphia. Cina Memories

Spicy Sichuan Food

We have so many memories of the month traveling on our own in China, but some stand out the most.

Top 10 China Memories:

  1. Arriving in Beijing with the flu during the height of the H1N1 Virus scare.
  2. Eating Peking duck, noodles and lots of street food in Beijing.
  3. Being completely underwhelmed by the terracotta warriors.
  4. Being completely overwhelmed by the Giant Buddha of Leshan.
  5. Strolling around the West Lake in Hangzhou.
  6. Enjoying a modern, comfortable high-speed train from Beijing to Shanghai.
  7. Enduring an old-school train from Xian to Chengdu.
  8. Breathing the massive dust cloud produced by the Shanghai World Expo construction and eating xiao long bao (soup dumplings) to wash down the dust.
  9. Sipping high tea at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong.
  10. Eating hot pot in Chengdu.

Although hot pot is not readily available in Philadelphia, we can get pretty close to the Chengdu dining experience at Han Dynasty  – a restaurant that understands the unique Sichuan combination of scorching chiles and numbing flower peppers. We count their dan dan noodles, wontons in chili oil, spicy crispy cucumber and mapo tofu among our favorite dishes.

Dan Dan Noodles at Han Dynasty in Philadelphia. China Memories

Dan Dan Noodles

Won Tons in Chili Oil at Han Dynasty in Philadelphia. China Memories

Won Tons in Chili Oil

Mapo Tofu with Minced Pork at Han Dynasty in Philadelphia. China Memories

Mapo Tofu with Minced Pork

We look forward to making new Chinese memories in the future. For now, eating good Chinese food will have to do.

Han Dynasty has seven locations in the Philadelphia area.  We ate this meal at the Old City location.


  1. One thing I love about the US is how easy it usually is to find food from so many different countries and cultures, especially if you’re in a big city like Philadelphia. It may not be exactly the same, but at least it’s close! It sounds like you guys have some great memories from your trip to China. I have yet to visit China, but it is definitely on my list. I’m looking forward to being overwhelmed by the terra-cotta warriors myself!
    Jessica @She Dreams of Travel recently posted…The Night A Spanish Taxi Driver Took My Suitcase HostageMy Profile

  2. Great list, both good and bad . . .! 🙂 I can’t believe number 1 – that sounds horrible. In Toronto you can also easily find delicacies from all over the world. Even though it really isn’t the same, it still can be pretty satisfactory as well 🙂

    1. Author

      We love the dim sum in Toronto. In fact, we’ve even wrote about our meal at Rol San last year. That being said, there’s nothing like eating Chinese food in China.

  3. Oh my the food looks so good – I have to say that is one thing I really miss about the USA the ease of finding just about any typr of food that you want – that is not so easy over in mainland Europe. This looks fantastic – your posts always make me miss my travels or my home for great food – 🙂 We have only been through the Bejing Airport – but we need to make it back to China for sure –
    Stacey Veikalas recently posted…International Home ExchangeMy Profile

  4. That looks so delicious! I haven’t been to China yet but after reading some of your highs and lows I really look forward to the experience! What would you say is your all-time favorite authentic Chinese dish?
    Jessica recently posted…Weekly Wishes – Número TresMy Profile

    1. Author

      Off the top of our heads, we’d start with soup dumplings from Shanghai, Peking duck from Beijing and hot pot from Chengdu. China is too big of a country with too varied cuisine for just one favorite dish.

  5. Looks really good. We love Sichuan, but unfortunately it’s hard to find a legit place in most areas.

    Will definitely need to check out this one next time we’re in Philly.

    1. Author

      We were so afraid of being detained, as it was all over the news. We took lots of ibuprofen and cough medicine before we landed and somehow made it through the strict airport security. It was stressful to say the least!

  6. I’m very jealous that you have a decent restaurant nearby which can give you something that is close-ish to resembling authentic Chinese food. Getting good Chinese food round here is a nightmare! I love spicy food, so the scorching chiles and numbing flower peppers sounds right up my street 🙂

  7. Wow!! You just let me miss Asia badly esp the Chinese food!! That pictures just make me so desperate to look for some oriental seasonings!!! That wonton and tofu!! Yummy! I well you deserved that good food if you arrived in the place with a flu, the soup and spices! Well glad you didnt acquire H1N1! Will definitely follow your food adventure!

    1. Author

      We liked the different foods in the different regions of China. You are surely eating well, even if the food isn’t spicy.

  8. Oh my… how I long for Chinese food now! Not for the spicy hot pot, though 🙂 I’m jealous you can handle the spiciness!
    How long did the high-speed train from Beijing to Shanghai take? I always flew that route but it sounds like train can be a good idea..
    Veronika recently posted…10 Sources of New Friendships AbroadMy Profile

    1. Author

      It took about eight hours, which was perfect for an overnight train ride. However, there’s a faster train now.

    1. Author

      Let us know if you plan a trip to Philly – we’ll give you lots of great tips!

  9. Real sichuan food absolutely ruined it for me everywhere else! I’ve never been able to get that same taste. I’ve never been to Philadelphia but in the UK there are tons of chinese restaurants, takeaways etc and a lot of them are unbelievably good, but you just can’t beat the real thing!
    Michael Huxley recently posted…How To Manage Your Money On Your Gap Year.My Profile

    1. Author

      We’ll be curious for your thoughts if your travels ever bring you to Philadelphia.

    1. Author

      We found the Terracotta Warriors to be overrated based on the hype. We expected more warriors. Plus, the site felt staged and commercial. However, we were totally impressed by the Giant Buddha of Leshan, which was underhyped and, to us, felt more authentic.

  10. For many years, I wasn’t a fan of Chinese food, but I blame that on the fact that not everywhere do you get authentic food or something that’s even close. I’ve begun to like it now & I hope that I can find a place that serves the real deal in Dubai. Your pictures are great by the way & have made me incredibly hungry! 🙂
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  11. Should not have read this on an empty stomach! Even more excited for my trip to China now!

    Would you not recommend visiting the terracotta warriors then? I have heard from a few people that they are underwhelming now…
    Chris recently posted…Free Things to do in SingaporeMy Profile

    1. Author

      Even though they underwhelmed us, we still recommend a visit to the terracotta warriors if you’re in the area. They are still very cool to see, just not as impressive as we expected. You will probably be more satisfied since your expectations are not so high.

    1. Author

      On the plane, Mindi took lots of ibuprofen to keep the temperature down as well as mucinex pills to calm the coughing. Between that and good luck, we made it past the infrared screeners. It was extremely stressful!

  12. I just went to china, and to tell you the truth, Chinese food was ok… Like the flavors were nice but I never felt good after eating it! I think it was just all the oil saturation inside dumplings or on the noodles. I always left with a belly ache which was unfortunate because they did taste quite nice most of the time!
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    1. Author

      We loved the food in China, though we did have some stomach issues too. The food we ate wasn’t particularly greasy. We attribute our stomach issues to the water quality. We tried to be careful with water and ice, but things happen when you’re there for a month. Let’s just say that we were glad to have immodium with us.

  13. Love Sichuan cuisine, and have known Han for several years. His food and enthusiasm are addictive.

    Fortunately we have several other restaurants offering this cuisine in the Philly area(other than Han’s empire) as of now. I thought you might like to know of these just in case you haven’t heard of them:

    1) Bamboo in East Norriton(chef and family from Chengdu)
    2) R&Z Ping Pong in the Gateway Shopping Center, Wayne
    3) Red King and Red King 2 on Race Street, Philly
    4) E Mei(not exactly the same, but adjacent and similar cuisine ) on Arch Street, Philly

    There are others, but so far we have loved all these!

    1. Author

      We’ve been to Red King 2 and E Mei, but we’ll have to check out the spots you recommend in the suburbs. Thanks for the tips!

  14. I haven’t been to China specifically, but I can agree that eating a certain area’s food is a great way to reminisce about a vacation. Different cultures have such unique tastes that just eating the food can remind you of being there. I feel like Asian food are especially potent in that regard, since their taste is so different from American cuisine. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Hi,
    I am so glad to see your post.
    Great list of recipes! I love trying new dishes. The food looks delicious, and I love the atmosphere. Very cool! Restaurants always have their own secrets for dishes. Thanks so much for all the info and for your honest input!
    Julie M. Stowers
    Julie M. Stowers recently posted…Be an Amazing Host!My Profile

    1. Author

      You will love China! Let us know if you have any questions when you plan your trip.

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