Peter Chang’s China Cafe

I’m cautiously optimistic.

I figured a restaurant full of RVA food critics and writers couldn’t be wrong. I saw nothing but unbridled praise on my twitter-feed during Peter Chang’s China Cafe dinner event on opening week.

It’s my fault that I let that spur me into immediately checking the place out with expectations running so high only to be dashed by a less than stellar dish. The greasy and tasteless Jing Jiang duck reminded me that the place was not yet a week old, and even under the helm of an experienced chef, needs time to find its rhythm.

So I thought to wait a few more weeks before going back – except those darn, almost delirious raves on my twitter feed wouldn’t stop.

With lowered expectations, I decided to order take-out.

I am happy to report that my to-go lunch has sublimely surpassed my expectations. Hopefully, in the coming weeks, the staff will be better trained on how to describe some cryptically-named dishes to customers unfamiliar with their menu. Though some items are common, the more interesting ones are not.  A knowledgeable waitstaff could really set Peter Chang’s China Cafe apart from being just another Chinese restaurant in a strip mall.

Here were the dishes I liked: 

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Mapo Tofu – my favorite
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Golden Mountain Chicken
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Bok Choy and Mushroom

I wish they’ll start serving the bok choy with tofu skins, I saw it on their menu but it’s only available with mushrooms right now. 

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Pumpkin balls with black bean paste

Conspicuously absent are any porcine fare, huh? I was tempted to order the crispy pork belly and spare ribs but I’m on a no pork and red meat diet for a few weeks. So those dishes will have to wait.

:(