posted on March 26, 2011 at 10:59 am
Peter Cheng’s new restaurant was one I expected myself to jump all over when it first opened. However, I stayed away even when I, like many other bloggers and journalists, I was invited to a multitude of tastings or pre-opening events. I obviously did not attend due to the whole ethical weirdness involved. It wasn’t until many months later that found myself there one weekend with family. The menu is one of those tomes that makes any critic nervous they simply won’t have enough time, stomach space, or budget to really get a sufficient grasp on the quality of a restaurant. So, this post is based on one visit where we sampled many dishes, but came no where close to scratching the surface.
A lot of my colleagues and friends have different opinions on whether or not they like this restaurant. Others are fascinated or annoyed by Cheng’s movements and alliances. I honestly don’t care if he intends to open another restaurant in cities x, y, or z. If Tasty China was any indication of how he could train a staff and maintain a certain level of highly acceptable quality, who cares if he’s in Virginia?
On this particular Saturday, Cheng was making the rounds and cooking in the kitchen. I was permitted to go back and get a few snapshots of him doing his thing after we ate our meal. He had no idea who I was and probably didn’t care, which only made me love him more.
Now, on to what we ate. I found every dish to be exceptional–even the lo mein that one of our less adventurous companions ordered. The crystal shrimp, which is not pictured, was a perfect mil counterpoint for the more spicy dishes.
My favorite dish of the day:
The hot and numbing tofu rolls.
Litmus dish: dry-fried eggplant. More crunchy than I’ve had in the past, but still a flavor bomb of deliciousness.
Shan City chicken: definitely different than it has been in the past. Less bready, more chewy. Super spicy. Awesome.
Chicken with ginger. A dish I found myself going back to for more and more due to its balance of mild heat, sharp ginger pop, and tender pieces of white meat.
Verdict: Another stellar Szechuan restaurant for our seemingly saturated city. Service is excellent. However, the price point may be a barrier for some. There’s always the original Tasty China if that’s the case.