Eating Out: Peter Chang China Cafe
Peter Chang China Cafe made its home in a Short Pump shopping center last April. Since then, followers and fans have made the trip to eat here. Lucky for me, this place is just a few miles from home. Maybe one of the only perks of nesting in the ‘burbs.
Peter Chang, besides being known for his amazing and hyped up food, is associated with an aloof “come and go” style. Once he gets a restaurant up, running, and cooks trained, he leaves – paving the road for another great Szechwan eatery.
Here you’ll find the crowd diverse as ever. From content regulars, to families and their noisy children, to hipsters voyaging out from the Fan and sexier parts of the city. Everyone gladly accepts the hearty dinner wait (for us, 45 minutes), and holds on to their paper ticket number – no buzzers… no names taken… it’s as simple as you can get.
Service is prompt and swift. On one rare occasion, our server was incredibly disgruntled to the point I felt compelled to apologize that she had to wait on us. But by the time we got our food it didn’t even matter. You don’t go to Peter Chang’s for the service.
The menu offers familiar ‘Chinese’ fare like Kung Pao Chicken ($13) and Mongolian Beef ($15) but also boasts authentic dishes like Golden Mountain Chicken ($13), Beef Stew served in a clay pot ($18), and Tea Smoked Duck with fried onion ($18). Although you can play it safe, you might want to branch out and select something different. Different is good.
Taking my own advice, I’ve become a stickler for the Basil Chicken ($14). Basil, leeks, and spicy green peppers dance among large slices of seared chicken. This is not for the folks who can’t handle spice. Every bite is a kick of fresh and unique flavor.
Jian Jang Chicken (might be funny to say 10 times) was also a pleasant surprise. Served similar to a DIY burrito, this arrived with pancakes (similar to tortillas), sauce, shredded chicken and cucumbers ($14).
Chang’s Chicken and Broccoli ($13), Lo Mein ($10), and Orange Peel Chicken ($13) are out of this world. It puts P.F. Chang’s, Panda Express, and many others well into the shamed category.
Lunch here is a steal. For $7 – $9, Chang’s offers around 29 dishes all served with rice (white or fried), soup (hot & sour or egg drop), and a spring roll. I couldn’t believe I walked out of there with a full belly and leftovers for $7.50.
I know there’s a hundred reviews (and maybe even a few cults) that praise Chang’s culinary skill. It just wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t add to it.
Peter Chang’s China Cafe is good. Really good. So invest in the wait, give into the hype, and enjoy the best Szechwan grub in the River City.
Price: $10– $22 (big portions, plan to have some for lunch the next day)
Ambiance: Casual and a little retro. Shopping center / strip mall vibe. Take it in.
Mentions: Come with a big group, get a lazy susan to spin dishes to share. Nostalgic, right?
Address: 11424 W Broad St (Short Pump)
I adore good food; the restaurants that serve it, the energy around it (even the hoopla), and telling others about it. When I'm not grubbing down on a great meal or writing, I'm mixing aromatherapy oils, letting Jillian Michaels kick my ass, and discovering new indie music that eventually goes mainstream (sigh).
We’ve all been there. You’re enjoying dinner or out grabbing drinks and it happens. You suddenly find yourself surrounded by bothersome tablemates. By this, I mean rude, noisy, drunk, and distracting. I’m not sure if I’m becoming old and sensitive, or honestly attempting to relish in a good dining experience but I feel it’s happening [...]November 6, 2013
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