Fine Dining at the Illustrious Peter Chang

Joel Gibbons, staff writer

Photography by Joel Gibbons

Photography by Joel Gibbons

Few restaurants in Charlottesville can take you on the culinary adventure that Peter Chang provides for its customers. This gourmet Chinese restaurant, founded by the legendary Chinese Chef Peter Chang, takes familiar Asian cuisine and alters it to provide a new explosion of flavor which not only fills your stomach, but also broadens your culinary horizons. The chef utilizes spices from the Sichuan province in China, which was the original home of Peter Chang.  This mastery of Asian spices gives Peter Chang the opportunity to take classic Chinese dishes and turn them into a gourmet feast.

Upon entering Peter Chang’s, the first thing that greets you is a smiling host who leads you to your table. Peter Chang’s is not particularly spacious, but there is a degree of privacy that can be retained by every customer while dining . As you take your seat, a server brings your refreshment that can range from a  glass of water, to a cup of hot tea, to sake, and anything in between. Their alcohol selection is not large, but they carry Chinese beer.

The menu itself is expansive and hard to understand. I highly recommend bringing a friend, or even the whole family, because the portion sizes are monstrous. One main course could easily feed two people. Consider consulting the waiting staff, who are always ready with a recommendation and who can give insight on the ingredients of the dish . This seems like a hassle, but once the food makes its way out of the kitchen that process is all forgotten.

To recommend a single appetizer or meal is to do injustice to the entire menu, but in order to enlighten the would-be consumer, I will recommend my  favorites. For an appetizer, there is never a better crowd pleaser than the scallion bubble pancake. This appetizer gives the appearance of two giant orbs of bread, but in reality, the pancakes are  hollow. In order to properly eat this dish, you must use your hands to tear off individual pieces that can be eaten plain or with the incredible green curry sauce that is served with it.  I also recommend the bamboo fish, pan-fried dumplings, and the dry fried eggplant.

For the main course, most all dishes can be made with any kind of meat, and they are always served with either white or fried rice. I prefer the well-known, classic basil chicken, which exceeds my wildest expectation every time I order it.

Another great dish that is not for the culinary introvert is the Shan City Pigs’ feet. These spicy pigs feet give off real heat that perfectly pairs with the pig’s feet to make a hearty, but not necessarily healthy meal.

I also recommend the tea smoked duck, the three pepper chicken, and anything in a stone pot. Many of these dishes are exceedingly spicy, but the kitchen can always dial down the spice. Just ask your waiter, and when they make the order they will put in a note to the chef.

The desserts are the only lacking aspect. In fact, they cannot even be found on the menu, so if you are looking for a gorgeous mousse to cap off your extravagant dinner, then this is not the place for you. Otherwise, the meals are always filling and fantastic, and the experience is great to show the kids what real Chinese food  tastes like.

I am in love with Peter Chang not only because of the food, but also because of the people. As a waiter at this illustrious restaurant, I met some of the kindest and most efficient servers in the business. Contrary to popular belief, being a waiter is not easy, especially when having to carry large stone pots filled with boiling food that burns as soon as it hits the skin, but the men and women, many of them Indo-Chinese immigrants, take it all in stride.

I learned more about food and Chinese culture in that restaurant than I ever thought possible. This makes me the perfect person to enlighten the members of the PVCC community about the glorious food crafted by the fine chefs at Peter Chang.


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Posted by on Nov 6 2017. Filed under From the Forum, Fun, Opinion, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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