Thursday, April 2, 2015

Han Dynasty's owner: What does NYT critic know?

"We don't use black [rice] vinegar in our dan dan noodles," Chiang told me. The dish is "not supposed to be sour."

Han Dynasty's owner: What does NYT critic know?

Dan dan noodles, as served at Han Dynasty.
Dan dan noodles, as served at Han Dynasty. DANYA HENNINGER

In today's New York Times, Pete Wells reviews the always-jammed East Village location of Philly export Han Dynasty (along with SoHo's Hirohisa), and comes away mystified by Han Dynasty's popularity:

"There are far better Sichuan restaurants," Wells writes. "Han Dynasty’s translation of the cuisine has a thick American accent."

Han Dynasty owner Han Chiang said he had no problem with Wells' opinion and his review, which was a "zero star," as in "satisfactory."

But Chiang questioned Wells' criticism of Han Dynasty's signature dan dan noodles.

Wells wrote that the noodles "needed more snap from black vinegar."

"We don't use black [rice] vinegar in our dan dan noodles," Chiang told me. The dish is "not supposed to be sour. I don't think he sounds like a professional Chinese food eater."

Chiang seemed miffed (but not outraged*) that Wells didn't call him to ask about the ingredients.  

As for the impact of a zero-star review, Chiang seems unfazed: "It wasn't that bad of a review. At least he said the service was good."

* Perhaps mellowing Chiang's mood is the fact that he got married two weeks ago, to Jing, the woman he hired as his first waitress.

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Michael Klein, the editor/producer of philly.com/Food, writes about the local restaurant scene in his Inquirer column "Table Talk." Have a question? Email it! See his Inquirer work here.

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