Regular readers know of my love for all things Han Chiang and his empire of Han Dynasty restaurants. So when I heard former managers Kevin and Catherina Huang opened up a spin-off in Rittenhouse, I had to check it out. The connection? Catherina Huang is Han's sister!
Sure the Sichuan dishes are all there, but how does DanDan set itself apart from Han Dynasty? In a nutshell, the spice level seems tempered for the Rittenhouse crowd.
And to be frank, the GF was all about that because unlike me, she can't handle the heat! I kid, I kid, but let's go on it with it shall we?
Dan Dan Noodles [$7.95]
Han Chiang has "famously" (jokingly?) stated that he didn't trust Westerners with mixing their own noodles. So in similar fashion, DanDan mixes the noodles tableside for you as well! Toothsome with great texture, the dish had sweetness from the peanut dressing, with some light spice that hits you in the back of your throat. Could have used a bit more of the crisp pork bits and I'd personally opt for more spice, but this was perfect for the GF. And for less than $8, it's quite the portion. Ask for a bowl of rice and this could easily be lunch with leftovers to boot.
Fried Vegetable Potstickers [$6.95]
The potstickers were great, with a nicely crisp exterior despite a wonderfully gluttonous wrapper and a good melange of veggies within. The dipping sauce was sweet with a lightly spicy kick.
Pork Belly [$9.95]
Sweet garlic chili oil
Obviously, I had to try DanDan's take on the pork belly app I love. These were spot on with a huge portion of thinly sliced roast pork belly. The chili oil was more sweet than hot and provided the necessary seasoning for the pork. With a bowl of rice, I was pretty much set.
Cumin Pork [$12.95]
Stir fried, bell peppers, dried peppers, onions, cilantro
We also decided to try the cumin pork, which featured lusciously porcine strips crusted with cumin. This was mixed with onions and bell peppers with bite, with the spice coming through from the dried Sichuan peppers. The cilantro provided a nicely herbaceous element to the dish.
DanDan's a great addition to the Rittenhouse area and is certainly tailored towards the neighborhood's tastes. That's not to say that they can't bump up the spice level to meet your Sichuan-spice needs! And the service? Wonderful! Our server Cati was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. DanDan just recently got their liquor license and their first floor is centered around the bar. It'll likely be a hot spot for happy hour, with a side of their eponymous noodles!