Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Mid-Atlantic >
Feb 28, 2010 01:02 AM

Where's Chang?

Has anyone in/near Charlottesville a reaction to the current article in The New Yorker by Calvin Trillin and the search for chef Peter Chang? And more importantly, eaten at Taste of China since chef Chang arrived?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Is this the place? We;re talking Asian Inn Taste of China, Charlottesville VA?

    It's possible for me to go through there as I drive from Asheville to Trenton. Great Chinese is hard to find, and I'm an export from the SF area so ache for it.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Lotuspetal

      That's the right place. We're very happy to have Mr. Chang around for as long as he would like to stay. It's a welcome change from all the gross, gloppy buffets that inhabit the area.

      1. re: lagniappe

        I'm curious to know whether he has the Chen Cang beef (dry-cooked diced beef served in little steamed buns). Anyone see it on his menu?

        1. re: James G

          I'm looking at the take-out menu and am having trouble finding something that matches that description. Nothing has dried beef in it, per se. Nothing named Chen Cang. Is it an appetizer or main? Closest I've found would be the hot & spicy beef rolls (they were out of them last night; haven't had them and cannot attest to what is in them or how they are prepared). I really don't see any other beef items that involve bread or buns or anything similar. Basically, before I went out of my way for that particular dish, I'd call and ask if it's a remote possiblity that he could still make it.

          1. re: CogitoErgoBibo

            Thanks, CEB, but since I'm in Beijing it's highly unlikely that I'll be visiting Chef Chang anytime soon. My inquiry about the dish is because it's one that I really liked but that I have never, ever seen anywhere in China. I've found something similar at a Xinjiang style place behind my apartment, but it uses lamb in place of beef, and thin "mandarin-style" pancakes in place of whatever it was that was used with the Chen Cang beef recipe.

            1. re: James G


              I have often thought that Chang himself invented many of his dishes, which after all is how many well-known dishes came to be and how the state-of-the-art is advanced. You mention that dish, but I wonder whether there are others of his that you have similarly not seen in China, suggesting that he has in fact been pushing out the envelope?

              FWIW, I recall a similar dish served at one of those big showy places in Singapore back in the 70's (the kind of place where there are lots of receptions, a band, a stand-up comedian etc.), but it was made with very salty and smoky ham enrobed with a sweet sauce, although served in a thick bun-like bread. It was very popular, and I recall ordering it on several occasions.

              The comedian was always hilarious BTW, even tho I couldn't understand a word he said.

          2. re: James G

            Hi James. Good to see you finally check in. Hope all is well.

            Chen Cang beef is not on this menu, and in general this one is fairly light. The menu in Knoxville was quite a bit more diverse, with at least 50% more of dishes that I would qualify as authentic Chang or at least serious, tho it did not have Chen Cang either. AFAIK Chen Cang last appeared on the menu in Atlanta.

      2. Another, eerily similar, article appeared in The Oxford American magazine's food issue published on the same day, March 1st:

        “I don’t think the world can have too much Chang.” —David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, on learning that both his magazine and The Oxford American were publishing features on Chef Peter Chang in their respective March 1 issues.

        1 Reply
        1. re: guyacrossthehall

          Thanks -- at least the Oxford American lets you read the whole article w/o signing up.

          I almost feel like a winner of one of those games where you have to collect all the squares, but they only print a few of one of the squares -- I made it to Szechuan Boy before Chang bolted -- only to find out about these other stops in Atlanta and Knoxville. And now I'm jealous of a good friend -- a real trencherman -- who lives in Charlottesville and can eat Chang's food whenever he wants.

        2. Well, he WAS here. After that article, he might have already left or be leaving very soon. I'd eaten there twice before the New Yorker issue came out and was exceedingly pleased. We tried to go this past Sunday around 7pm and were turned away at the door. There was a line of people, some of whom had been waiting for an hour. A woman came out and said they were "out of food" and to try and come back tomorrow. Then she made a plea for us to continue to come even if he leaves, since he is training all her staff on his recipes.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mojoeater

            Yes -- this has been the experience at the other places he's graced. After he leaves, they still turn out very good szechuan food. He must sprinkle pixie dust in the kitchen.

            1. re: mojoeater

              Still here as of last night. About a 45 minute wait, but worth every minute. YUM. I'll take it for however long it lasts!

            2. Apparently he's flown the coop again. No reason to make a four hour trip to wahooville now.

              2 Replies
              1. re: vafarmwife

                Yup. It's all over Twitter that he's gone. I may have gotten one of the last of the Chang cooked meals. Takeout last Friday. Allowed by one of the waiters, but I got the disapproving stare at the register, since they technically suspended takeout orders. Man am I going to miss that guy. Hope that, true to form, the touch of Chang will stay with Taste of China. His restaurants are always left much improved for his having been there.

                1. re: CogitoErgoBibo

                  I managed to luck out last thursday as I was visiting from Boston and hadmy host take me there. The roast fish with green onions and fried eggplant were as good as anything I've had. Sorry he's gone.

                1. re: CogitoErgoBibo

                  Chang is back at Tasty China in Marietta. I saw him today. He is opening his own restaurant in nearby Sandy Springs in October.