Between the countless number of restaurants that have opened in the Washington metropolitan area, Peter Chang’s not one but two expansions to the region were slightly overlooked. Maybe it’s because he decided upon the suburban locales of Rockville and Arlington instead of Shaw or Petworth, but regardless if it’s located in the District or not, it’s worth the trip up the Pike for some fabulous Sichuan fare (and those in Virgina don’t have to go too far, either).
It’s fair enough to say that nearly all of the dishes we had at Peter Chang were something we have never experienced before. Take for instance the dry fried eggplant. They were essentially eggplant fries sans any trace of grease while the outside remained delightfully crispy. Topped with chilies and Sichuan pepper, this isn’t even the spiciest dish on the menu, but if you’re a fan of heat then the dry fried eggplant is a must-order.
The scallion bubble pancake is highly recommended just for presentation alone. The pair of piping-hot puffy pastries (say that three times fast) arrives to the table with a side of curry sauce that makes for a great starter.
I don’t know what was more memorable about the bamboo flounder: the presentation or how it actually tasted. Just like the aforementioned dishes, this was unlike anything I have had before. Crispy strips of lightly fried flounder were beautifully arranged between pieces of bamboo and, just like the eggplant, were topped with cilantro, chilies and Sichuan peppercorns, adding a nice kick to an already amazing dish.
Grandma’s noodle was another favorite amongst the table. Topped with chili power, scallion, garlic cilantro, soy sauce, and hot oil, this is yet another spicy dish but the al dente noodles helped neutralize some of the heat.
The hot and numbing combination speaks for itself. A simmering bowl of flounder, shrimp, chicken, mixed vegetables, mushrooms, and sweet potato noodle situated in a spicy broth, with nearly one out of four bites involving a unique numbing sensation. If you’re sensitive to spice then this isn’t the dish for you, but if you’re an adventurous eater and crave heat then this is right up your alley. Just take a breather or three once the numbing takes over.
On the flipside, Chang’s seafood in a stone pot was a much milder option. Featuring jumbo shrimp, flounder, scallops, and mixed vegetables, the curry-based broth was a nice retreat from the hot and numbing combination but still a very enjoyable, generously portioned entrée.
The grand finale was the tea-smoked duck, arguably my favorite entrée of the evening. Accompanied with a side of crispy onions, the perfectly cooked medium rare duck had a delightful smokiness to it that really impressed me. Had we not ordered a dish too many, I would have finished it on the spot (rest assured the leftovers didn’t last long).
Overall, I couldn’t be happier about our dinner at Peter Chang. I’ve never eaten such a unique array of dishes in one sitting and was very impressed with each preparation. Our only downfall was ordering too many items between four people – we simply got too much food, as the portions are very generous. Needless to say I’m really looking forward to our next visit as this is a wonderful addition to Rockville.