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A Han Dynasty First-Timer

Last week, I had the stomach pleasing pleasure of dining at Han Dynasty for the very first time.

Located on Route 70 in Cherry Hill, an area I frequent, I’ve apparently been living under a huge culinary rock.  I’d only learned about the Zagat award-winning, Food Network featured, South Jersey magazine applauded establishment just days before trying it out.

Excitedly, I explored the menu, virtually intrigued by every item on it.  I’m unsure if I was more thrilled to eat here because of my hunger or because of all the positive commentary I’d heard about it.

After narrowing down what I had a taste for (which was easier said than done), I finally decided on the kung pao chicken lunch special, with an accompanying order of scallion pancakes.

I went to pick the food up, and the smells emitting from the paper bag were unbelievable.  It took everything for me to not pull over and begin feasting on the side of the road.

After a quick five-minute drive back to work, I couldn’t pry the bag open fast enough.

I opened the kung pao chicken container and my nose was bombarded with aromas I’d never gotten from the mom and pop Chinese stores I grew up on.  This was the real deal.

I added a bit of white rice into my chicken container so the sauce could have something sopping it up.  My first fork full was completed with the thick dripping sauce and rice mixture, a spicy chili, a lightly-salted peanut and a real piece of chicken (no faux meat over here).

The food went into my mouth gently, so that I could properly examine the texture and taste of every component.

Complexity–the only word that could possibly describe the array of flavors meshing together, creating one harmonious bite.

Just when my buds tasted sweetness, the spice from the chili provided a kick.  That was followed by the ‘zing’ from the ginger and vinegar within the sauce.

The chicken was beyond tasty, but let’s not forget about those scallion pancakes that sat patiently, waiting for their turn.

As any current or recovering carb addict can assume, they were addictive.  What I enjoyed most about them, besides the sweet and salty soy-ginger dipping sauce they came with, was the fact that they weren’t overly oily, despite being fried to perfection.

All in all, for under $10, I had enough food to hold me over until the next day.  I was, however, practicing restraint and moderation because I could have easily devoured the entire bowl.

Han Dynasty, a descendant of Han Chiang’s growing food empire, has changed what many think of takeout or eat in Chinese restaurants.  With famed dishes like the dan dan noodles, dry pot style chicken, dumplings in chili oil (all which I plan to try sooner than later), and many more, there’s no wonder this place has received many praises.

So, skip out on cooking tonight and enjoy the most authentic Chinese cuisine you’ll find in Cherry Hill.

Kung Pao Chicken
Kung Pao Chicken

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Photo Courtesy of FarmtoFork.com

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