After eating Chinese food, do you ever feel kind of gross? Devouring all of that greasy, oily food makes postprandial social activity nearly impossible and physical activity a major no.
But last week the cycle of bloat was broken thanks to Han Dynasty (90 Third Ave., 212-390-8685). At this newly opened Philly import, I had an amazing meal and then went out -- without feeling like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from "Ghostbusters."
On a recent Friday night, the casual restaurant was bustling. There were waiters whizzing around, carrying heavy clay pots and white porcelain dishes full of steaming meats and vegetables. Diners were hunched over bowls of noodles or quelling Sichuan heat with mugs of craft beer.
I started with the dumplings in chili oil. Coated with the thick red oil, there were a bit of a chopstick hazard -- so slippery I had to stab them - but they were delicious, warm and satisfying. Each delicate packet had just a tiny bit of meat; by the time the bowl was empty, I was ready for more.
I next went to the fried Taiwanese sausage. There were no fancy garnishes, no dash of sauce for effect. It was simply sausage and about 20 cloves of raw garlic. The sausage was hot and salty, sliced thin almost like Chinese charcuterie. And the garlic -- let's just say I'm glad I wasn't on a date.
Then there was a heaping mass of dan dan noodles, and chicken with black bean sauce over rice. The dry pot tofu, marked at a spice level of 10, was searingly spicy: a peppercorn inferno that left my lips tingling.
Perhaps it was the heat that kept me from gorging. Or the fresh ingredients and the lack of fatty meats. But I walked out of Han Dynasty feeling great, prepared for whatever sorts of activity the evening would bring.
Ariel Kanter is an editor at Gilt City.