Review of Peter Chang’s New Restaurant

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I was excited to hear that Peter Chang’s newest restaurant location in Arlington was soft launching this this weekend, and apparently I wasn’t the only one. Within a day or two of the Washington Post article going live last week, the Peter Chang Arlington restaurant website had crashed from all the traffic.

Hoping to avoid the crowds I waited until today to go for lunch, talking one of my more adventurous (won’t order American Chinese food off the menu) into going with me so I could try more dishes. The Arlington location is in the Lee Harrison Shopping Center in the space formerly occupied by Oriental Gourmet.

Peter Chan Arlington restaurant review exterior

When we arrived at 11:50. There were a few diners but mostly empty. By the time we left around 1 all the tables were full and there was a small wait. 🙂

Peter Chan Arlington restaurant opening Keri

Peter Chan Arlington restaurant review glassware

The decor is quite simple — furniture and salmon pink walls that might normally be overwhelming but with no other decor on the walls somehow worked.

The tables are well spaced and not crammed in and I liked that there was a small bar area where solo diners can eat lunch.

The menu was quite extensive with 10 pages of great looking options. Lacking a review from the Washington Post, Tyler Cowen’s Ethnic Dining Guide, or any of my other usual dining guides we were ordering blind, but still did pretty well!

They have lunch specials which are about half the price of dinner entrees and come with spring roll and soup, but we decided to ignore them and go off the full menu. All the appetizers looked good so I went a little nuts.

The panfried Pork Dumplings ($7) served with a spicy mustard and special soy sauce were quite good. They weren’t a standout to my friend, but I thought they were some of the best I’d had in the area — the dumpling wrapper wasn’t too thick or chewy and the pork filling inside was moist and tender — not the hard knots of meat I’ve become accustomed to.

Peter Chan Arlington restaurant review panfried pork dumpling

The Scallion Bubble Pancake (2 for $6) had looked good in the menu picture, but gave no sense of size.

Peter Chan Arlington restaurant review Scallion Bubble pancake

They’re about the size of a large appetizer plate, like a cross between the scallion pancakes I’m used to and Indian pooris. Amazing, and even better when dipped in the accompanying curry sauce.

Peter Chan Arlington restaurant review Scallion Bubble pancake Keri

I couldn’t resist ordering the Peter’s Big Bun ($3) which arrived with a little straw. I assumed it was drinking the soup inside, but as it wound up not having excess, I guess it was for ventilation? It was still good, but a basic dumpling.

Peter Chan Arlington restaurant review Peter's Big Bun

The Crispy Pork Belly ($10) was AMAZING. Not only was it like the best crispy bacon (but moister) you’ve ever had, it was also accompanied by tasty spicy greens including cilantro, green onion, and peppers.

Peter Chan Arlington restaurant review Crispy Pork Belly

That would be have been enough food, but our entrees were still arriving. My friend doesn’t do seafood so we decided to order one chicken and one beef dish to try as many proteins as possible.

The Basil Chicken stir-fried in Szechuan chili paste with leek, celery, jalapeno, and Thai basil ($15) was good with subtle flavors. It arrives in tin foil in the shape of a chicken.

Peter Chan Arlington restaurant review Basil Chicken foil

Not very spicy despite the two pepper rating and a solid but not a stand out dish.

Peter Chan Arlington restaurant review Basil Chicken

The Hot n Numbing Beef Brisket in Hot Pot ($17) stewed with tofu skin and leeks in Szechuan numbing sauce had amazing (and numbing) flavors but the rubbery texture of the tofu skin — my first time trying it — and the fattiness of the beef didn’t thrill me.

Peter Chan Arlington restaurant review hot n numbing beef brisket hot pot

The Scallion Bubble Pancake and Crispy Pork Belly were the stars of lunch! I recommend all the appetizers I had and look forward to trying the Dry-Fried Eggplant and Crazy Beef w. Ghost Chili next time I go. And while I liked both entrees, there’s a whole wide world of deliciousness on that menu that I can’t wait to explore.

With entrees $15+ this place is a bit more expensive than other Chinese restaurants in the area, but well worth it!! I just hope they retain the more interesting dishes while still appealing to those who prefer stand-bys like Kung Pao Chicken (which according to the people in the booth behind us, was the best they’d ever had). Especially since I don’t always have time to make it outside the Beltway to my two favorite Asian restaurants — China Star and Elephant Jumps.


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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel


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