Peter Chang’s China Grill
2162 Barracks Road . Charlottesville, VA . (434) 244-9818
Why Peter Chang’s?
Charlottesville is home to two restaurants whose kitchen staffs were trained by Peter Chang, the former Chinese Embassy chef who some have called the best Szechuan chef in America and who has won praise from the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Washingtonian, the Washington Post, and more. One is Taste of China, where the elusive Chang first appeared in 2009 only to leave a year later. The other is Peter Chang’s China Grill, opened in 2011, the flagship restaurant of what has become a series of restaurants around Virginia and beyond. And truth be told, either could warrant inclusion in The Charlottesville 29, particularly now that Chang’s attention is divided among the many locations of his namesake restaurants.
But, what ekes Peter Chang’s ahead is that Chang himself is sometimes there. While the cooking at Peter Chang’s is good any night of the week, it can be truly stunning when Chang is present, particularly at special events with multi-course feasts all prepared by Chang. We lack the experience at restaurants around the country to know whether Chang is truly the nation’s best Szechuan chef. But, having enjoyed his food many times, dating back to his days in Northern Virginia, we can say it would be no insult to Szechuan food in America to say that he is.
What to Order
The massive menu at Peter Chang’s can be daunting. While the standard Chinese-American options are fine, the good stuff awaits those who order adventurously, particularly from the specials menu. Alternatively, below are our suggestions, Chang’s own favorites, as well as appearances in Five Finds on Friday, where a local chef or personality has named a Peter Chang’s dish as one of the best in the area.
- Dry Fried Eggplant
- Scallion Bubble Pancake with Curry Sauce
- Cilantro Fish Roll
- Grandma’s Noodles
- Hot and Numbing Shredded Tofu Skin
- Bamboo Fish
- Roast Fish with Green Onions
- Dry Fried Eggplant
- Chicken and Eggplant with Ginger and Onion Sauce in Clay Pot
- Hot and Numbing Combination in Hot Pot
Five Finds on Friday Picks
- Dry Fried Eggplant — Bryan Kelly (Harvest Moon Catering)
- Scallion Bubble Pancake with Curry Sauce — Donnie Glass (formerly, Banyan Day Provisions and Public Fish & Oyster)
- Dan Dan Noodles — Hannah Moster (formerly, Hamiltons’)
- Cilantro Fish Roll — Dahlia Lithwick, Dave Kostelnik (Early Mountain Vineyard)
- Hot and Numbing Shredded Tofu Skin — Laura Jawitz (formerly, Greenwood Gourmet), Tracey Love (Hill & Holler), Vinnie Falcone (formerly, Red Pump Kitchen)
- Fried Lotus Root — Josh Hunt (Beer Run)
- Crispy Pork Belly Appetizer — Donnie Glass (formerly, Banyan Day Provisions and Public Fish & Oyster), Ian Boden (The Shack), JJ Myers (The Pie Guy)
- Beef Tendon and Tripe in Szechuan Chili Sauce — Mitchell Beerens (Lampo)
- Spicy Beef Tongue, Tendon, and Tripe — John Meiklejohn (formerly Yearbook Taco)
- Chicken with Mixed Pepper in Hot Iron Plate — Somdev Devvarman (tennis star)
- Beef with Mixed Pepper on Hot Iron Plate — Justin Ross (Parallel 38)
- Stone Pot of Pork and Potato Balls — Christian Kelly (Maya)
- Kung Pao Chicken — River Hawkins (The Bebedero)
- Tea Smoked Duck with Fried Onions — Caleb Warr (Tavola)