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Experience at Chef Changs House, Brookline

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I consider myself a pretty tolerant person... if the restaurant I am dining at happens to have mediocre to poor service, I'll tolerate it because the food compensates for it. For me if the restaurant was a poor experience I just never go back, I'm not really one to complain or make a fuss with the staff/owner.

So after reading all the raves about the Peking Duck at Chef Changs I figured I'll take the trouble/make the effort to go eat there despite many other choices available in downtown Boston. So first impressions were pretty bad, the restaurant smelt weird after stepping in to the main dining room. The rugs on the floor looked dirty and was quite un-appetizing.

The duck came out from the kitchen at room temperature, skin was soggy, the fat underneath the skin was not rendered and had turned a pale white. I'm glad that everyone else that had a good experience there didn't have to eat I had.

I also ordered some stir fried vegetables and they were very plain and not very creative as to the assortment of vegetables.

Sorry to rant on but I would never go back and the duck is just plain bad!

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  1. I'm sorry you had such a bad experience at Chef Changs. I was there last night (Sun) and had Peking Ravioli and Yu Hsiang pork,both of which were very good. I've had the Peking Duck on many occasions, but not recently. It was always presented table side with the appropriate flourishes and was always a treat, so I was disappointed to hear that you didn't fare as well. I've never noticed any smell, weird or otherwise. The decor is certainly passe and the staff seems to be changing frequently. The gentleman that headed up the front desk died very unexpectedly last year, and things are not the same, but the food is still good. I have friends that enjoy having a late dinner and we meet there every Friday and are the last to leave. They are both foodies and wouldn't waste their time there for just average Chinese food. Our only complaint is that sometimes we feel rushed. I hope you give it another try.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ghostcat

      Hmmmm.... Yu Hsiang pork isn't on their menu.

      And Sonny died???? Really???? I was under the impression that he moved back to China. And I am not sure how he would affect the food, as he was strictly front of the house.

      Anyway, I have been going there literally since the very first day it opened.

      And I agree that the consistency has taken a huge turn for the worse. You can still get very good food there, but more often than not you get a product that is underseasoned, oversauced and not that fresh. Especially when Sue isn't inthe kitchen. I think they have gone through a lot of cooks.

      I don't go there nearly as much as I used to, but have not given up on it yet.

      I ordered a bunch of stuff last week to take to friends who were moving and it was excellent. But I imagine if I went in for lunch today I'd be rolling the dice.

      bcmchong, if I were you I would call Chef Chang's and ask for the owner, Tony. Tell him exactly what happened. Ask for your money back or another Peking Duck. As far as the vegetables, order something else unless you want bland white sauced stuff.

    2. I think Chang's started sliding downhill some years ago, perhaps when Grandfather Chang shuffled off. We crossed it off our list after a couple of really terrible meals. A sibling recently revisited and confirmed that it's a shadow of the place we remember from 20 years ago, when the old patriarch would always carve the duck. For Peking Duck, we go to the Chinatown King Fung Garden these days.

      1. CCH has suffered a precipitous downturn in quality. Not just the duck, but everything seems worse than it was even 5 years ago. I never go anymore; I actually prefer Chef Chow's House in Coolidge Corner for american style chinese and a lot of the dishes I used to enjoy at CCH (crispy beef, peking ravioli, etc.)

        1 Reply
        1. re: tamerlanenj

          Agreed, Chef Chow's actually seems to have improved in recent years. I think they got a new chef from China.

        2. I think it is really unfortunately when new ownership takes over or other family members carry the baton forward that the passion is usually not there. No longer the pride to continue producing a great product.

          I'm never going back, so calling Tony would not really help anyone and sometimes they are doing the best with what they have... the new cook was probably the best they could find under the circumstances.... oh well. Cross that one off the list.

          1. Hi all-- I'm very sorry for what I wrote the other night, I had my "Chefs" mixed up. It's Chef Chow's that I go to once a week. I think ever since some kitchen staff member was murdered at Chef Chang's years ago, it did change considerabley and now closes very early for a Chinese place. Sorry again for the confusion and I hope Sonny, whomever he is, did move back to China.

            4 Replies
            1. re: ghostcat

              The murder was maybe 20 years ago. IMO the place didn't start to slip until 5 years ago or so.

              1. re: C. Hamster

                I think you're talking about the murder at a Thai restaurant up the block, maybe Pattaya. It happened in the parking area behind the buildings, one worker killing another. The restaurant closed and has been many things but is now Beacon Street Tavern. That was 20 years ago.

                1. re: lergnom

                  I just looked up the case. The appeal was in 1984, so the incident was sometime before that.

                  Several people were shot at Chef Chang's during a robbery attempt.

                  They had a Brookline police detail there for many years afterward.

              2. re: ghostcat

                Thanks for the clarification. As former fans of Chef Chang's we would love it if they could go back to the way they were four years ago when we first moved to the neighborhood, but in the last year it has definitely gone from bad to "toss it in the trash takeout". Perhaps we should give Chef Chow's a try.

              3. Oh, that's too bad to hear about Chef Chang's! I used to go there for the luncheon specials pretty much on a weekly basis when I was in graduate school about 10 years ago. The spicy green beans were my favorite! I guess I'll just hang onto my fond memories of the place... ;-)

                1. There is also something VERY VERY wrong with the pancakes/tortilla's that come with the duck. I swear they get it from taqueria suppliers, kind of thick, and a little bitter. It's completely different from the Chinese kind, and it is most certainly not house made.

                  Perhaps it is my own pessimism, but I don't think you'll find the duck itself in much better condition anywhere around Boston. The flour tortilla's completely ruin the whole thing though.

                  1. I ate there this past April and it confirmed to me that I was DONE with Chef Changs. The food was terrible. The Hot and Sour Soup tasted like white pepper glue. I could not believe how bad the food was. I had eaten there for years and always liked it but for some reason the quality and flavor has suffered.