3635 Lancaster Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19104
I had an errand to run in Wayne today, and was hoping to try Dan Dan. The errand got cancelled, so rather than go to my usual Manayunk Handy Nasty, I searched for another local Szechuan place. Lancaster Avenue sounded close (though I forget how long and windy that road can be.) This is basically, a block from Drexel, but still only 15 minutes, so within a MainLine radius for me.
Parking was super easy and under a buck for 45 minutes. I assumed correctly that service is quick. The kitchen is in plain sight, and appeared as clean as the front of the house. There are paper menus, but the pix above the counter are good GUIDELINES…
I had to try the Dan Dan mein (especially since I have so many versions by which to judge.) There were a BUNCH of dishes which appear specific to Chengdu (Szechuan’s capital city) which I have never seen before. Perhaps one day the management will provide explicit descriptions (though In some cases, maybe Westerners should just be left in the dark and let their palates decide??)
The Dan Dan were as good as any and better than most. Firm and hearty noodles bathed in a complex nutty sauce, brimming with chili oil and topped with dollop of fried ground pork. I was surprised to find some hearty chunks of tender bok choy nestled in the layers below. At $9, the order was large enough to share, but I was alone. Intentionally.
While the Dan Dan were enough to make a meal, I had driven there as a destination, so felt obligated to have another light dish. I chose the rabbit in chili oil with peanuts (though I had forgotten this is traditionally served ice cold.) It was, and though the temperature was not unpleasant, this WAS rabbit, and that is a protein few cultures have the temperament to fillet. There were tiny shards of sharp bone in each bite, making this dish more effort to consume than I had expected. It was DELICIOUS, mind you, and far spicier than the Dan Dan, so left my lips numb and burning all the way to Bala Cynwyd. I’d recommend it with those caveats, but it’s not a dish to order for a lunch interview.
I will absolutely go back. After ordering, I had heard the counter staff converse in fluent English with customers, explaining preparations, so next time I will avail myself of them and ask for recommendations. It’s clear the food is authentic, and it is delicious and reasonably priced. Not everything on the menu is tongue-numbing. The $5 “burgers” seemed very popular. I’ll bet that old American standby “General Tso’s chicken” is pretty good here.