“Don’t Die in My Restaurant,” and Other Takeaways From Han Dynasty’s Insane Wu-Tang Dinner
It was midnight when I finally got in a Lyft. As I was leaving, Han Chiang asked me, “Are you full? Are you drunk? Are you high?”
His blunt and beer dinner started at 7 p.m., so, “Yes, yes, yes.”
When the themed multi-course fête started four years ago, it was more fanfare than Wu-driven. According to Founders Brewing Company’s Dave Goldstein, the whole thing started after he and Second District Brewing owner Curt Decker drunkenly broached the idea with Chiang, who agreed to host the event in the basement dining room of his original across-the-street-from-here location. It would be 36 courses of spicy Szechuan paired with rounds and rounds of craft beer. It wasn’t until members of Wu-Tang caught on — through Facebook of all places — that they decided to alter its course. First, they said no more pork (some of the group’s members follow halal diets), and then Ghostface Killah stepped up to the plate and agreed to perform mid-meal, making it fully certified.
While the event was held at Han Dynasty’s New York City location the night prior, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that this year there would only be 20 courses and 16 rounds of beer, as opposed to the 36 appetizers, entrees and desserts of yore. I knew that I’d be going alone, which would probably make for a better story, but would also require regular contact with someone on the outside, lest I find myself in danger, be it food paralysis or drunkenness. I knew there would be weed — because how could there not be weed? And that the beers would just get higher and higher in strength, eventually leading to the last glasses of Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA and World Wide Stout, with its 15-20 percent ABV.
But that was about all that I knew. So, as any proper journalist would, I made assumptions. Here they are, and conversely, what actually happened:
If I got there early, I’d get a seat next to Ghostface.
I was actually the last person to be seated and had to bug the poor staff member in charge of herding the guests about getting my name on the list. I sat with him as he guided over 160 people to their seats, many of whom wore Wu tees and held vinyl records. Thankfully, he found a place for me in what I referred to as the “VIP brewery section.” Though I’m not sure that’s entirely true, there were curtains. I sat next to a guy named Ruby who mansplained to me that crustaceans have lungs and that last piece of lobster everyone else left on the sharing plate — the one I just ate — was them.
I also had this inkling that Ghostface wouldn’t actually perform, that he’ll be too full, or drunk. Twenty courses and sixteen beers is a lot to consume pre-performance… and in general.
Well, the second part is true. But the first part: no way. I’ve been to some pretty forced celebrity events, and this was not that. Ghostface came in at 100%, barreling through Wu hits like “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” and “Ice Cream” as he made his way into the crowd, rapping directly into the faces of some super enthusiastic fans. After his performance, he met everyone who wanted to meet him — spoke to each and every person, including me.
He even signed my tablemates brand new bong.
I should also mention: right before his performance, the entire restaurant was guided into the alleyway to share 2-3 blunts for what was dubbed on the menu as the “Dutch Masters Intermission.” I made them take this selfie with me.
I figured I might need to slip into something more comfortable mid-meal, which is why I brought extra pants with no buttons.
Yes, I lugged around an extra pair of pants all day, from 9 a.m. until this meal, on the off chance that I might get so full I couldn’t breathe. And, might I say, Uniqlo makes a great eating pant — but I didn’t need to use them. I took Chiang’s advice, which he provided pre-meal in perfect Chiang-ian affect: “Strategize your experience, take two bites of every dish,” he told us. “And If you feel like dying, don’t die in my restaurant, go outside.”
I saw myself choking on spice to the point of vomiting — at a table full of strangers.
My proudest moment of the night was the moment that five grown men started coughing their heads off around me while I sat calmly sipping my India Brown Ale and relishing my pickled short ribs. I felt like Arya Stark when she poisoned that room full of Freys. No one could stop me! (My secret? I was the only one who didn’t eat the peppers.)
To be honest, most of the dishes — from the first course of spicey beef jerky to the last (and arguably most delicious) broad bean whole fish — were reasonably hot, or not really hot at all. When our server brought out the basil black bean clams, our seventh entree, he told us, “this is spice level zero.” He was right. The thinly sliced, bean-glazed clams basically tasted like my grandmother’s turkey and gravy.
No one would be talking to each other by the 10th course.
I just figured we’d be so full, drunk and sleepy. Words would just cease to come out.
Not the case.
From the moment I sat down to the moment I left in that Lyft, everyone around me — hundreds of people — were fully engaged. Sure, we were also Instagramming all over the place, but there was a real human interaction that can only be had when you’re at such a “what the fuck?” kind of event such as this with a bunch of strangers thinking the same thing. Something must have been in the air. Weed smoke, sure. But something else, too.
Happy Thanksgiving From Foobooz
As is our holiday tradition here at Foobooz, we end our pre-Thanksgiving programming with the classic WKRP in Cincinnati episode “Turkeys Away”. It is, without a doubt, one of the finest bits of comedy ever created. If you haven’t seen it before, it’s definitely worth 24 minutes of your time. And if you have? Well then you’ve probably already hit Play…
Check it out below.
Old City Might Get Exactly What Old City Needs: A Wawa
Although there are a lot of things we don’t like about Old City, there are plenty of things on our Pros list as well: The Arden Theatre, FringeArts, Fork, the Khyber, Franklin Fountain, Shane’s, and the Ritz cinemas, to name a few. But one thing that Old City doesn’t have that it definitely needs is a Wawa. And one might be coming soon.
According to OCF Realty’s blog, Philly’s beloved convenience store is planning to open a new location on the first floor of the historic Public Ledger Building on 6th and Chestnut streets – right across from Independence Hall.
The space that could soon be an Old City Wawa was previously one of those Philadelphia gift shops selling a bunch of nicknacks and tchotchkes that nobody needs. Safe to say that a Wawa would be an upgrade.
For our 100 Most Influential People in Philadelphia feature, Wawa CEO Chris Gheysens told Philly Mag that his company is excited to announce planned expansions into some new neighborhoods in the city.
While a Wawa spokesperson says that the company cannot confirm OCF’s report at this time, a move into Old City would certainly follow this expansion strategy. And it would make a whole lot of sense.
After all, what drunk frat boy wouldn’t want a Wawa Meatball Shorti with provolone, parmesan and oregano at 2:05 a.m. after stumbling out of one of those horrible Old City bars?
Plus, the lunch truck scene in Old City isn’t exactly great (actually, it completely sucks), as we can attest having recently relocated the Philly Mag offices from 19th and Market to 6th and Walnut. So the ability to walk down the street and grab a Turkey Classic, a bag of chips, and some of that delicious Wawa iced tea sounds pretty good to us.
A Grande Dame in Schwenksville for $270K
If you’re one of those house-hunters who’s looking for modern convenience and comfort and that old-time neighborly feel, this fabulous renovated Victorian on Schwenksville’s main drag gives you both in one package.
If you have a large brood in tow, so much the better, for this home’s six bedrooms can handle your whole family.
The total makeover this home got gives it a spacious living room, a huge kitchen with espresso wood cabinets and all the latest stainless steel appliances, and a dining room on the side that gets extra character from an exposed remnant of this home’s original exterior wall.
The upstairs bedrooms all feature new carpeting and share a tastefully updated hall bath. A second full bathroom can be found at the far end of the laundry room on the rear of the main floor.
There’s a storage shed in the back with plenty of room for your stuff as well. And if all this isn’t enough, the partially updated basement offers more room for storage, recreation, or what-have-you.
Feel free to invite your friends over to show off your new home; they should all be able to park in the extra-long driveway.
When you want to get out, this home offers more than just its own backyard. The Perkiomen Trail is right across the street, the historic Pennypacker Mills house museum lies just across Perkiomen Creek, and you’re a short walk away from both the Schwenksville shopping district and Schwenksville Elementary School. Hop on your bike or put on your hiking boots, get out there and explore! There’s lots of beauty and history along the banks of the Perkiomen.
THE FINE PRINT
SQUARE FEET: 2,313
SALE PRICE: $269,900
49 Main St., Schwenksville, Pa. 19473
49 Main St., Schwenksville, Pa. 19473 [Matthew Mooney | Redfin]
Six Feet Under Launches a New Jazz Brunch in Washington Square
Gene LeFevre’s new subterranean gastropub on Walnut Street is nearly three months old, so the crew over there (down there?) is really getting into the swing of things. And because Noord’s Joncarl Lachman has joined LeFevre’s little restaurant group as a partner, he’s helping out in the Six Feet kitchen the same way he is at M Restaurant — by giving it a bit of that brunch magic that’s made Sundays at Noord and every day at the Dutch so popular.
So look forward to deep-fried bread pudding (basically, french toast), loaded tots, and the return of Neuf’s shakshouka — a dish our critic loved: “The balance between tomato sweetness and chili heat perfect, especially when smoothed out by the slickness of the poached egg, and with just enough sour feta cheese to make you chase the taste of it all the way to the bottom of the bowl.” There’s also a bloody mary menu named after the seven deadly sins.
Brunch starts this Sunday, November 26th, with live jazz. Here’s the menu:
Here Are the Philly Stores Open on Thanksgiving
Black Friday is still the most critical shopping day of the year, but we’re finding that even as the internet becomes everyone’s top destination to shop, some retailers are still opening up their doors as early as 6 a.m. Thanksgiving morning to let shoppers have at it.
For those of you who look forward to fighting over flat screen TVs at Wal-Mart or maybe you just want to avoid the shipping costs that come with online shopping, here’s a roundup of stores open on Thanksgiving and also when they’ll close. We’ve also included a list of stores that won’t be open on Thanksgiving and some even on Black Friday. Please note that individual stores hours may vary. Call ahead to be sure. Happy shopping!
Stores Open on Thanksgiving Day 2017
K-Mart (2 p.m. Black Friday)
Big Lots (midnight)
Dollar General (10 p.m.)
Bass Pro Shops (6 p.m.)
Cabela’s (6 p.m.)
Bon-Ton (3 p.m. Black Friday)
Boston Store (3 p.m. Black Friday)
Carson’s (3 p.m. Black Friday)
Herberger’s (3 p.m. Black Friday)
JCPenney (10 p.m. Black Friday)
Stage Stores (1 a.m. Black Friday)
Belk (1 a.m. Black Friday)
Dunham Sports (1 a.m. Black Friday)
GameStop (10 p.m.)
Shopko (2 p.m. Black Friday)
Best Buy (1 a.m. Black Friday)
Kohl’s (1 p.m. Black Friday)
Macy’s (2 a.m. Black Friday)
Toys R Us (11 p.m. Black Friday)
Boscov’s (1 a.m.)
Dick’s Sporting Goods (2 a.m. Black Friday)
Five Below (1 a.m. Black Friday)
Michaels (2 a.m. Black Friday)
Sears (12 a.m.)
Target (6 p.m.)
ULTA (2 a.m. Black Friday)
Value City Furniture (midnight)
Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy and Rite Aid will be open on Thanksgiving. Hours vary by store.
Stores Closed on Thanksgiving Day 2017
Academy Sports + Outdoors
Babies R Us
Barnes & Noble
Bed Bath & Beyond
BJ’s Wholesale Club
Blain’s Farm and Fleet
Cost Plus World Market
Crate and Barrel
DSW – Designer Shoe Warehouse
Half Price Books
JOANN Fabric and Craft Stores
Jos. A. Bank
La-Z-Boy (all corporately owned stores)
Mills Fleet Farm
Music & Arts
Office Depot and OfficeMax
Outdoor Research (closed on Black Friday)
P.C. Richard & Son
Pier 1 Imports
Raymour & Flanigan Furniture
REI (closed Black Friday too)
Sears Hometown Stores
Sierra Trading Post
Sprint (Mall kiosks may open)
Sur La Table
The Container Store
The Original Mattress Factory
39 Things to Do Over the Long Weekend
Wednesday, November 22
Holiday Tree-Lighting Celebration @ Philadelphia Museum of Art
Plus pay-what-you-wish admission and music by The York Street Hustle and Philadelphia Girls Choir.
Laughs on Philly: No Parking @ Bourbon & Branch
Oops, I don’t know how I missed this one in my comedy roundup yesterday. Laughs on Philly presents comedy by Anthony Moore, Chanel Ali, Mike Brooks, Carly Kane, Matt Monroe and more. (What’s the “parking thing” about? How about this: “Bring a valid parking ticket and we’ll let you in for free.”) Hosted by Erin Dohony and Ronald Metellus. (more…)
Lyft Is Offering Free Rides to Philly Parks on Friday
Here’s the forecast for Friday: 52 and sunny, with a light breeze.
It’ll be a perfect fall day – so why spend it standing in line at some jam-packed department store?
This Black Friday, Lyft and REI are teaming up to offer $10 off rides to parks in 12 U.S. cities, including Philly.
You can travel to one of following locations for free (or for $10 less than you usually would): Wissahickon Valley Park, Penn Treaty Park, Pennypack Park, Benjamin Rush State Park, Bartram’s Mile and Fairmount Park.
#OptOutside this Black Friday. We’re teaming up with our friends at @REI to help passengers get outdoors on November 24th with a free ride to parks in select cities. Learn more: https://t.co/PoEbQr2RRt pic.twitter.com/G9SdQY6cJ0
— Lyft (@lyft) November 22, 2017
The deal comes two years after REI first launched its #OptOutside campaign and decided close its stores on Black Friday. Since then, more than 7 million people and 700 organizations have gotten involved in the shopping alternative.
Visit lyft.com/invite/optoutsidephl to claim your free ride this Friday.
What’s On Jillian Mele’s Plate at Thanksgiving?
Fox News personality Jillian Mele suffers from serious Philly withdrawal. After working several years in front of her home audience on NBC10 and Comcast SportsNet, the Glenside gal took on a new challenge seven months ago when she agreed to pivot to talking news and politics on the conservative cable network. Now living in New York full-time, Mele likes to head home as often as she can to visit her favorite haunts and people. Unfortunately for this workaholic, 5 a.m. call times for Thursday and Friday prevent her from celebrating Thanksgiving where she grew up. Philly Mag recently sat down with Jillian to discuss her new gig, favorite holiday foods, and more…
What are three things you miss about Philly?
Three? How about I do you one better and give you four. Obvious answers are first, my family. I go a home a lot and still spend a lot of time with my family. Second – my friends. It’s been hard because when I first moved to New York, I didn’t know anybody. People were always saying, ‘How can you not know people in New York – it’s the biggest city in the country!?” And I’m like ‘I don’t know, I’m from Philly. I work in Philly. All of my friends are in Philly.’ And speaking of, three would be my Welsh Corgi named Tyler. He is my lifeline … my buddy. He’ll turn 14 in January. And finally, the restaurants. Restaurants in New York are great, but I spent so much time in Philly that I’ve got my favorites, the go-to’s – and I miss having them.
So what are some of these favorites around town where we might be able to find Jillian Mele?
If I’m in Center City – I’m a vegetarian by the way – Vedge and V Street are my top two. I just love them. I also tried Wiz Kid two weeks ago when I was home. Had lunch there with (NBC10’s) Bill Henley, Jessica Boyington and Krystal Klei … we’re all still friends. Parc, I feel like that’s one of everybody’s favorites that’s from the area. If I’m in Conshohocken, I’m likely at this little tiny/bar restaurant called Pepperoncini.
Where did you get your start in TV?
My first on-air job was in Presque Isle, Maine. I had never lived away from home before. I was like, ‘Where am I, what’s going on?’ But when you get your first job offer in TV, you don’t think about it – you just go. I covered stories like moose accidents and the world pond ice hockey championship. Fifty degrees below zero. The coldest time of my life.
What do you love most about your new gig on Fox News?
Honestly, the people. I have never been in a work environment that has been so truly incredible, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. It’s something that I always hoped for in my career, but I had never experienced before to this capacity. The women here are supportive of one another – which I find inspiring, uplifting and helpful. I find it makes the day better. Because this business can be so competitive, but when you have women who support one another, to me, that’s a difference maker. It’s awesome to be a part of.
Name one celebrity who left you completely star struck.
Phil Mickelson. He was on our show Fox & Friends. We talk to all of the guests during the break and off-air and stuff but sometimes you have a guest that makes you go ‘Wow, this is cool’ because that person is actually asking you questions, asking questions about your family. When people go out of their way to ask questions that they honestly don’t need to – that goes a long way for me. Number one it was meeting this amazing golfer, and number two is how he was as a person.
Biggest misconception about TV anchors?
Life is so glamorous? No it’s not. I’m in bed in my pajamas at 5 p.m. every day.
What’s something we’d be surprised to hear about you?
I don’t know if this is funny, or offensive, but I’ve never had a real Philly cheesesteak. Go figure. I’ve been a legit vegetarian for 10 years now, but my whole life I never really ate much meat. Never really had a reason or want to have one.
So that means no turkey then. What’s on your plate for Thanksgiving?
I always have a massive plate full of mashed potatoes and stuffing. Just give me all of the carbs on the table. Put it all on my plate. I’m going to eat them all.
Are the Eagles headed to the Super Bowl?
Don’t say that word! I’m anti-taking about it because I don’t want to jinx them, but last week I did ask my boss, a Giants fan, if I would be able to go if they got there.
When can we catch you on Fox News?
Fox and Friends First at 5 a.m. with Rob Schmitt, then I do news updates on Fox & Friends from 6 to 9 a.m.
It’s Finally Back: LOVE Park’s Christmas Village Opens on Thursday
Let’s face it: Dilworth Park just can’t stack up to LOVE Park when it comes to hosting our annual Christmas Village.
It’s nothing against Dilworth: it’s just that some things are meant to be, and LOVE Park’s Christmas Village is one of them.
That being said, we’re thrilled to announce that the open-air holiday market will return to its rightful home this year, starting at 9 a.m. on Thursday – Thanksgiving Day. Don’t expect the attraction in all its glory, though: construction on the park has yet to wrap up, so the village will look at little different than it has in previous years.
— Christmas Village (@philachristmas) November 18, 2017
For starters, the market will be enclosed in a fenced area on the north side of the park, and construction will resume outside the fence. (According to 6ABC, some vendors are angry that the park won’t be completely accessible, as they were originally told it would be.) Still, at least 80 vendors will set up shop, including the classic European food booths, ornament shops, wineries and more.
The village will operate through Christmas Eve during the following hours:
Thanksgiving Day: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday to Thursday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Christmas Eve: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Anyone who visits the market this weekend will likely be in for a treat – there are a plethora of opening festivities planned for the village.
To start, kids can pose for pictures with Santa during scheduled hours. And you can expect performances at 3 p.m. on Thursday, as well as at noon (with the Philly POPS Festival Brass) and 3 and 5 p.m. on Black Friday.
The village will celebrate its first Saturday in business with a jam-packed schedule, including performances every hour from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., as well as a “kids corner” from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Then, on Sunday, the OFFICIAL opening ceremony will take place. That’ll include a sing-a-long to holiday selections by the Camden Catholic High School Band, as well as the appearance of the Nuremberg Christkind (who brings Christmas gifts to kids in Germany) in a horse-drawn carriage. Speakers and performances – which begin at 3:45 p.m. – include City Representative Sheila Hess and Christmas Village founder Thomas Bauer.
For those getting to the market by car, the city has released an interactive map to help visitors find parking in advance. You can search the day and time you plan to visit and reserve a place through SpotHero.
LOVE Park’s official reopening is slated for spring – a year behind schedule. A number of issues (like unexpected underground obstacles) have prompted delays since the park first closed for its $16.5 million facelift in February of 2016.