Han Dynasty Sets Sights on Manayunk Takeover

New Sichuan restaurant opens on Main Street.

Han Chiang, owner of the new  in Manayunk, took his friendly education sessions and aggressively applied them to his business plan.

"I'm very passionate about Chinese history... Whenever I'm with my friends, my American friends, I want to educate them on the history, the culture and the cuisine," he said. 

He banned them from ordering when they went out together, and has applied that mantra to his customers at his Sichuan restaurant.

"I don't care what you want. I'm going to tell you what's best for you. You can listen, and if you don't, you're not going to have a good experience," he said.

That fiery attitude often leads to negative Yelp reviews, but for the new eatery at 4356 Main St., the praiseworthy comments far outweigh the contrary ones.

"I'm obsessed with this thing, man. I can't stop... I have a big dream. I'm going to have 100 restaurants. My goal is 96 more in four years," he said.

Born and raised in Taiwan, Chiang has spent most of his adult life in the United States. He opened the Manayunk restaurant—his fourth—Dec. 23. Chiang chose Manayunk for its busy streets and the timing: The previous owners, Beijing Homestyle, decided to leave. The food styling is completely different, as Chiang departs from the more Americanized style of Chinese food. 

Chiang wholly embraces his reputation, in person and online—he sometimes tweets as Handy Nasty. But it isn't exactly his way or the highway, but more leading that horse to water and hoping it drinks.

Instead of pulling at random, Chiang attempts to get to know his eaters. No pallet is the same, and he wants to tailor the meal perfectly for you, even if you don't know what that is yourself.

"Anyone that comes in, I want to find the best dish for them," he said, adding he questions them on their penchant for spice, protein, sweet, fried and veggies. "After that, I know exactly what you need."

Specializing in Sichuan stlye, Chiang presents the spicy, flavorful food of southwest China.

For those who want to delve into the food, Chiang has a new tasting planned. Monthly on the third Monday, Han Dynasty will serve a 20-course tasting for $25. It starts Feb. 20.

The opinionated Chiang also holds his own American dream. Though he's opened four restaurants in four years, he has a long way to go.

"I'm obsessed with this thing, man. I can't stop... I have a big dream. I'm going to have 100 restaurants. My goal is 96 more in four years," he said.

If you go: Han Dynasty at 4356 Main St. is open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. everyday, is BYOB, and accepts all major credit cards. They are also available for takeout at 215-508-2066. 

You can find more articles from this ongoing series, “Dispatches: The Changing American Dream” from across the country at The Huffington Post


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