Here is an excerpt of Craig LaBan's online chat:
Craig LaBan: In case you missed it, Han Dynasty's East Village location in NYC finally got its review moment in the New York Times . . . and it did not go well. As in "no stars/satisfactory" not well. While HanDy had scored well in its earlier round of New York reviews, including Top Ten Best New Restaurant kudos from NY Mag's Adam Platt, the Times' Pete Wells groused that Han's Sichuan fare had a thick "American accent" with occasional bouts of too much sweetness and "slashing doses" of MSG that were not worth the 45-minute line. That kind of "ouch" does not come from Sichuan chiles.
Reader: I'm getting really tired of Wells. Han Dynasty is one of the best Asian-style meals I've had in the city. Do you agree with his assessment? I think he's off base.
C.L.: I wouldn't call Han Dynasty "Asian-style." It's very Asian and fairly authentic Sichuan as far as I can tell. Which, I think, was really the big surprise with this review, as Pete basically said the East Village version of HanDy was an overhyped, Americanized, takeout-grade joint gone mad with MSG. I don't doubt that Pete had a bad meal. I know him to be a serious eater who's well-informed. But I did find the review surprising: the descriptions starkly contrasted with my meals at pretty much every other Han Dynasty in the Philly area (except for Manayunk, which, catering to Main Line tastes, is my nomination for his local weak link.) Wells' description of the cumin lamb as "anemic" and "syrupy" is particularly off from my experiences - it's really a signature dish. Of course, I haven't been to the NYC HanDy, and I didn't eat with Pete. So I can't say if I disagree with him.