When the scent of freshly chopped onions and garlic hits his nose as they sizzle in the wok, James Han feels lucky to be back in the place his food dream became a reality.
Twenty-three years after selling his business, Han is back and ready to serve the Bellevue community once again.
“I like Bellevue,” he said. “I’m happy cooking.”
Han originally opened Han’s Golden Dragon in 1989 and sold it to a family in 1996. He then opened a Plattsmouth location in hopes of reaching another community.
He sold that restaurant in 2012 and took a break from cooking.
When he heard the Bellevue Golden Dragon was closing in February of last year, he wanted to revive what was once his.
Han’s son, Andrew, said for years his dad wanted to return to the city he and his wife Nanhee migrated to from South Korea, learned how to cook and speak English.
“It was the perfect opportunity for him to get back to Bellevue,” Andrew said.
Han’s Golden Dragon reopened about a month ago, and after sharing the news on Facebook, Andrew said the city has been nothing short of enthusiastic.
“The feedback has been great already,” he said. “That’s awesome to see.”
Throughout the spring, James and his family worked to get the restaurant in order. With a fresh coat of paint, wall renovations and new decor, Han’s Golden Dragon has a new look.
Aside from the decor, James also made some changes to the food and service.
Unlike previous years, Han’s Golden Dragon is no longer considered a quick service restaurant.
Customers can now take a seat, relax and be greeted by a server rather than order at the counter.
He also added to the menu. In addition to serving Chinese cuisine, Han’s Golden Dragon will offer Korean food as a tribute to the family’s heritage.
Popular menu items include sesame chicken, Korean rice cake dumpling ramen and James’ two favorites, Mongolian Beef and Korean spicy seafood noodle soup, jjam-bong.
“We always cook Korean food at home but for customers, we always sold the Chinese food,” James said.
James and Nanhee do all the cooking.
“It’s very hard to find a place that has a mix of Korean and Chinese food together,” Andrew said.
James said he is excited to introduce customers to a different kind of food.
“They never had Korean food but when they try it, they like it,” he said.
In the food, James said, customers will only find fresh ingredients and no added MSG, monosodium glutamate, the sodium salt of glutamic acid.
“Customers can trust I serve food that I would serve my family, my kids,” he said.
James also added gluten free and vegan options to the menu.
From early mornings to late nights, sometimes even after midnight, James and Nanhee tend to the restaurant and prepare for the next day, James said.
“I don’t think you’ll ever see a day when you see my parents call in sick,” Andrew said. “They have hungry stomachs to feed.”
Han’s Golden Dragon, 923 Galvin Road S. #107, is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.