The Perks of Yelping and Optimism: Han Dynasty Dumpling Class

I’ll start this post with a few caveats. First of all, I’m a Yelp Elite. They explain it better than I do, but basically it means that I “Yelp” often, and I Yelp “well” enough that some group decided my reviews are pretty legit. About once a month, this also means I get to go to some cool party or event with free food, or booze, or mini-facials. I’ve written almost 300 reviews, so what this really means is I’m a total geek. And the Elite events…. They’re full of total Yelp geeks, too. It’s okay, it’s all in good fun. But the other night, I was invited to an event not because of how often I Yelp (too often), but because of a glowing 5-star review I gave to one of my favorite spots in the city.

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Spoiler alert: this was the final product

Han Dynasty has several locations around the city, but I’ve been to the one in Old City more times than I can count. From a quick happy hour drink and snack to a dinner for 72, to a bottle share with Philly Beer Scene, Han’s team always delivers. And I reflected this in my review. Apparently, Han and his squad are digging around on Yelp, inviting folks that left 5-star Reviews for some in-house experiences. A little “Behind the Scenes at the Dynasty”. In our case, it was dumpling creation.

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We made dough (well, we kneaded dough that he mixed for us.)

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We rolled out tiny dumpling skins.

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We mixed up chicken, pork, and vegetarian fillings.

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We stuffed and folded about a ZILLION dumplings. Some looked great (see below).

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Some looked awful (nope, deleted all photos of that. Shame.)

We took a break for some chit and some chat while the dumplings were being served. It was AWESOME to see Han in his natural habitat. He explained how, when he was growing up, his grandmother would do full days of dumpling prep while the kids would be stuffing and folding dumplings.

He also explained how he’s got a parody in the pipeline for all those awful one-star reviews (think “Celebrities reading mean tweets” gone dramatic), but I’ll let him share that with y’all closer to the release date.

He also explained how dumplings don’t always have to be perfect.

As long as it’s sealed up, it tastes the f***ing same.

Wisdom from the master.

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Roomie and I posed (as we often do), and then… I ate dumplings we’d created in a style that winded me.

That’s right.

I crammed dumplings into my mouth so fast and so furiously that I was winded.

Needless to say, despite some of them looking a little less than professionally made…. they were delish.

If you’re ALSO trying to get some lessons from the master, I’d recommend heading over to HD and living an experience worth rating 5-stars. But trust me, that won’t be too difficult. Might I suggest the dumplings?

I promise, I didn’t make them.

The Hunt for ThanksgivWiches #2: Nick’s Old City

Ok, to recap:

It’s time to look into something a bit more permanent…. Enter: Nick’s Roast Beef Bar and Grille in Old City!

I’ll shoot you straight: I’ve never actually been past the front bar area of Nick’s. I actually didn’t even know more of the establishment existed…. But if you walk past the bar, full of regulars watching the game (which game? THE GAME!) or a handful of bros loading up on cheap drinks during happy hour, you’ll reach a handful of tables just waiting for some hungry patrons.

And if you look closely at your menu, hearing the whisper of a gobble in your subconscious, you’ll spot this:

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Come to mama.

Thanksgiving All Year Long? It’s like they heard my prayers. This ThanksgivWich is offered… well…. all year long. And, thus far, it tastes closest to what I imagine from a genuine leftovers sandwich made by your dad on Black Friday while you’re sitting on the couch and ask for something to eat.

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Thanks, Dad. Err… I mean… Nick’s.

This turkey is moist as hell. And that’s saying something, mostly because I (much like many of my peers) don’t like the word moist. The cranberry sauce wasn’t any of that fancy schmancy stuff. Nope. I imagine it was from a can. It probably came out in the shape of the can.

DOESN’T MATTER, STILL GOOD.

The stuffing was a pinch on the dryer side, but that’s where the kicker came in….

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Cup of gravy the size of your sandwich? Sure.

Yup, that black little cuppa was chock full of gravy. I dipped. I poured. It got messy (just as any good Thanksgiving meal would [wait, what?])

Sure, the gravy could’ve been a bit thicker, the stuffing a bit less dry, and the kaiser roll, while doughy and delicious, resulted in a messy consumption experience. BUT served with a side of Nick’s infamous curly fries (Side Notewhy aren’t these offered EVERYWHERE?!), I gotta say this tasted the most like something put together at home. And, during the rest of the year when ThanksgivWiches aren’t popping up all over the city, it’s good to know Nick’s will offer this staple all year long!

Yelp Philly’s Freedom to Party

Sickness, school, and sleep have really gotten in the way of me writing this post (doesn’t my life sound fabulous?), so it’s about a week late. But that comes with the territory, right? The grad school territory, the cold season territory, the winter in Philly territory… I feel like a hibernating bear. But I did manage to come out of my lady cave for a few choice hours last week to head over to Revolution House in Old City for Yelp Philly’s Freedom to Party!!

Yelp goes hard in the paint.

I brought my pal Martha after her demonstration of being an excellent +1 at the Confections and Cocktails party at Williams-Sonoma and, moments after we hopped off the El, we rolled into Revolution House. Once inside, we were treated like VIPs (VIY[elpers]?) as we enjoyed some of the finest food and drink that Revolution House had to offer.

Rev Dog - beef hot dog, guacamolesweet & sour peppers,  cheddar cheese, carmelized onions

Rev Dog – beef hot dog, guacamole
sweet & sour peppers, cheddar cheese, carmelized onions

 

Pizza and Beer - My kind of joint

Pizza and Beer – My kind of joint

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Sexy Sangria

Other than just a-MAH-zing food and drink (seriously, those Rev Dog bites were decadent), this event had it all. Feats of strength (watching Chef Luca lift trays full of salmon), excitement (As the sandwich chalk-board tumbles towards us all, imminent doom looming, will we be saved?!), laughing, crying (don’t worry, it was just from laughing), chills (from icy cold beers), heat (from the dreamiest heat lamps known to mankind), and, of course, the gorgeous movers and shakers of Philadelphia’s chosen ones: The Yelp Elite. I’ll admit, before this event, I’d only ogled Revolution House as I walked to various bars in Old City, assuming it was just some restaurant. How wrong I was….

You know what you can’t see from walking past Revolution House? THE HEATED ROOF DECK!!

Is there anything better than a nice warm deck on a chilly Autumn night?

I submit that there is not.

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Don’t mind the bushy brows, I’m channeling my inner Frida.

From a champagne toast to start the night to a decadent Winter warmer of boozy cider, Revolution House brought out the heavy hitters.  The tiny ladies pouring the wines and beers downstairs were an ABSOLUTE JOY, and started my night off the right way. But, as things started dying down in the bottom of Revolution House, I wondered what mysteries awaited me upstairs. I followed a tray of crab canolis (the only dish that I tried which didn’t excite my palate and awaken all of my other senses like a rapturous alarm clock inviting everyone to the party) up the stairs and was excited to see even more treats.

Gimme that fishy!!

Gimme that fishy!!

And, despite Martha spilling and making a GIANT MESS (tsk tsik), we both left full of the holiday spirit (or holiday spirits? Jeez, there were a lot of bevvies….) It was a glorious way to celebrate the end of my FIRST HALF of final projects. But don’t worry, there’s plenty more finals where those came from…. guess I’ll have to head back to Revolution House for their Mad Elf/Mad Dreams party next Friday. Shucks….

Tiniest tenders ever.

Tiniest tenders ever.

Thank you, Revolution House and Yelp Philly. You sure know how to show a girl a good time.

Off to study. Or nurse this cup of Theraflu…

What’s your favorite type of bar to hit up during those chilly winter nights?!