Dining at Mr. Han’s restaurant in Gainesville can best be described as an experience.
You drive up to what looks like an old, dark building and follow the sign up the stairs.
There is a sign outside of the front entrance that says Mr. Han Supper Club: Proper Attire Essential.
When you walk in, you are immediately transported to a nightclub setting from the past, with dim, red lighting and mirrored poles. It takes some time for your eyes to adjust to the light, but by that time you are already transfixed by the uniqueness of the establishment. To be clear it is not a nightclub anymore, but the décor still maintains that iconic look.
Mr. Han’s Chinese restaurant was started by the Han family in 1975, and has a rich history in Gainesville as Eric Han, who co-owned the restaurant with his parents, even hosted custom tours from Gainesville to China. You can even see pictures of Mr. Han with famous actors on the walls. Although Eric Han passed away in a automobile accident in 2009, his legacy is felt in the restaurant’s many photos of him as well as tributes to him on the menu as well (some items say Han’s favorite and Han’s created).
Although there was a steady stream of people getting take out, there were hardly any people dining in, which left plenty of space for social distancing.
The ambience of the restaurant was upscale and fancy with calming music.
We chose a table towards the back windows and were given a menu. This menu is written in such a poetic way that I wasn’t sure if I was reading a menu for food or reading a work of literature with food items as the main characters.
After contemplating the menu, and asking a few questions to our waitress, who was very gentle and kind, we ended up deciding on the Sweet and Sour Pork and Szechuan Shrimp.
The food did take a little more than 20 minutes to come out, as there were many take out orders that night, but the waitress updated us and even apologized for the wait.
The Sweet and Sour Pork ($16) was on the sweeter side with thick chunks of meat surrounded by a generous coating of batter and sauce. If you like your meat crispy, I would ask if they could put the sauce on the side as the pork did get a bit soggy.
It was very good and had some slices of onions, carrot, and green pepper in the sauce as well.
The Szechuan Shrimp ($16) was more savory with a red sauce consisting of peas and onions on top of sautéed shrimp. It was not as spicy, however, as I was hoping for so I asked for the spicy pepper oil, which added a good kick.
Both items came with tiny bowls of rice.
My experience ended with a fortune cookie, to provide some wisdom for this new year. My fortune read: “Beauty surrounds you because you create it.” This message made me think more consciously about the impact of my words and actions and how to make use these to cultivate beauty and positivity. I left Mr. Han’s with some food for thought as well as a full stomach!
I would definitely recommend Mr. Han’s if you are looking for a unique setting. It has such a soothing, peaceful, almost mesmerizing vibe with the music, red lighting, and the super kind staff to create a holistic experience.