Han Dynasty is spicing up Market Street. The Szechuan restaurant, which has sites in Old City, Manayunk, Exton and Royersford, has added University City to its list of locations.
Taking the place of MidAtlantic Restaurant & Tap Room, which closed Feb. 24, Han Dynasty boasts new amenities and options at the new 37th and Market location. While most of the locations are BYOB, the University City restaurant holds a liquor license. “Since we are more of a hybrid than the other restaurants, with the cocktail and beverage program, we really would like to be able to expand the menu, possibly to include something bar focused, like Taiwanese street food,” general manager Gustavo Maldonado said.
Maldonado also discussed the possibility of renting out the restaurant for private events and offering desserts, which are not available at the other restaurants. “Ideally [we’d like to] maintain the authenticity, that experience that everyone has. That’s the primary focus of the kitchen,” Maldonado added.
According to owner Han Chiang, his other restaurants do not yet have the services of the University City restaurant because there is not enough time to develop them. “Before, I was so busy in Old City … that’s why I never served dessert,” Chiang said. “People would ask, ‘Do you guys have dessert?’ and I’d say no. They’d ask why not. ‘Because I’m at your table right now, because there’s a line waiting.’”
Director of Operations Mark Allan said that each of the locations has their own character and style. “Exton and Royerford feel like regular Chinese restaurants. Old City has a bistro vibe upstairs,” he said. “University City is this big, beautiful open space. It’s gorgeous. They all have different vibes based on the clientele,” he added.
With the opening of the new Han Dynasty, Chiang expects to curb crowding at other locations. “I get so many students to go to Old City. They book parties in twenties, thirties, forties. It was taking my walk-in business away,” Chiang said. “That’s why I opened here, so students can come here instead of traveling 30-something blocks.”
Engineering graduate student Yan Zhu believes the location of the restaurant will benefit business. “The restaurant is near so many Chinese people, and most of the Chinese people will like the spicy food. This is actually authentic.”
Yio Xin, also a graduate Engineering student, countered that the location may not be ideal. “It’s near Sansom Place and there are some apartments nearby, but I think Market Street is sometimes dangerous,” he said.
Maldonado is confident that the close proximity to multiple campuses will be advantageous to the restaurant. “We have the fortune of taking someone’s misfortune and turning it into a positive. The previous tenants weren’t able to adapt their business to the environment, and this environment is something that suits us perfectly,” he said. “We’re surrounded by … Drexel and Penn in addition to having such a strong Asian community. We also have people with open minds who are willing to try new things.”
The restaurant intends to host its grand opening within the next two weeks.