Peter Chang has finally responded to the endless requests from his fans to open a restaurant in Washington D.C. proper. With the advent of Chang Chang, a stunning modern Chinese restaurant in Dupont Circle, Peter Chang fans residing in the city will have a local option for indulging in their favorite dishes from the area’s most well-known Chinese chef.
The sleek contemporary décor of Chang Chang, complete with crisp white walls, pendent lighting, Chinese artwork, comfy booths and lazy Susans, is only outshone by the cuisine, which includes new dishes along with signature Chang culinary creations.
First and foremost, it is important to note that the “Chang Out” or take-out menu is completely different than the “Chang In” or in-house dining menu. To indulge in more of the classic Peter Chang dishes from his other restaurants, order from the “Chang Out” menu. That menu includes favorites such as his Wuhan sesame noodles, where light noodles are swirled in a rich, nutty sesame seed paste sauce, the ever-popular spicy and heady mapo tofu, and his well-known garlic eggplant dish, made with succulent hunks of eggplant soaked in a sweet and sour garlic sauce.
To try his new dishes, you will have to come in to the venue, where you can pair your meal with one of the bar’s tasty (and boozy!) beverages. Highlights on the menu include a seaweed and tofu gem salad, crunchy mushroom spring rolls served with a dipping sauce and cool lettuce leaves for wrapping, and a spicy bean curd salad with Asian pears and gogi berries for a hint of sweetness. For more substantial items try the eggplant cooked with doubanjiang, a spicy paste made from fermented soybeans, turnip cakes, and vegetables including broccoli, squash and beech mushrooms, dry fried with mala spice, made from Sichuan peppercorn. None of these are for the faint-hearted, but all are rife with flavor and texture. Noodles and fried rice are of course on the menu; try the Buddha’s delight where chewy wheat noodles are tossed with fresh veggies.
For dessert, the passionfruit pie is highly recommended. It is a divine combination of tart and sweet from passionfruit and calamansi, a Filipino citrus fruit, with a crumby pie rice graham cracker crust. Mochi is available if you want something cold, and chocolate lovers should get the chocolate cake that is infused with coffee and crowned with house made sesame crackers for a bit of crunch.
As noted, the cocktails are designed to be paired with the food and also showcase Chinese flavors. The In the Mood for Love is made with gin and has just the smallest bit of heat from Szechuan amaro. The daiquiri is super refreshing, with ming river baijiu, a Chinese spirit distilled from sorghum that tastes like tropical fruit, combined with rum.
All in all, this is meal for your tastebuds and senses, whether you “Chang In” or Chang Out!”
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