New Chef Chang on Mass. Ave.
Any word as to whether this outpost is in any way related to the old Chef Chang's House on Beacon Street in Brookline?
I'm excited, great to have another non-Chinatown Sichuan option.
Is it possible that the Thailand Cafe folks are behind this? In addition to plenty of standard Sichuan and Xinjiang dishes, the online menu lists:
Pad Thai (Thailand Style) $11.95
I ate there tonight. The owner (or manager) says that he just brought the chef over from Henan. I believe that the owner himself is from Shandong. As far as I can tell, this is not best thought of as a Sichuan restaurant, though they do have some regional spread which includes Sichuan dishes.
I tried two dishes: the Xinjiang big plate chicken with noodles, and the pea pod stems. I've never had a Chinese dish similar to the Xinjiang chicken; the best comparison that I can think of is to a vindaloo. It's a chicken stew, cooked with wheat noodles, onions and bell peppers, chili, and vinegar. Really tasty. The pea pod stems were very fresh.
I saw other tables eating Northern dishes which looked quite good: mantou, rou jia mo, and stir fries served with some sort of bread (which were labeled on the menu as "Chinese pancakes"). So this is pretty exciting -- there's some overlap with the the Sichuan restaurants, and maybe some with Gene's, but it looks like they're doing something unique around here.
some notes from one meal:
service is somewhat awkward but remarkably fast and competent for having been open less than a week.
Sweet and sour fish fillets with dragon beard noodles: too sweet and the deep-fried tilapia filets were on the chewy/soggy side, but the dragon whisker noodles (apparently a Shandong specialty according to wikipedia) were a nice touch.
Eggplant in spicy garlic sauce: this seemed like a typical Sichuan-inspired dish that is found in any of Boston's Taiwanese or Sichuan restaurants. The presentation was unique in the visually attractive way that the whole skinny eggplants were sliced and presented, but the skins came out tough.
Ma la cold tendon: too sweet, but aside from that, the ma/la flavors were pretty well balanced. Unusual preparation in the sense that the tendon had been cooked until soft and didn't have almost any of the snap typical of this dish
Dong po pork with "Chinese pancakes" (actually mantou, the steamed bread/buns): Delicious, but not miles beyond other versions that can be found nearby e.g. at MuLan.
This reflects the theme of the conversation I had with the owner yesterday who emphasized that the dishes on the menu may be familiar but they are preparing them slightly differently than what we may be accustomed to around town.
I'm having a bowl of fuqi fei pian for breakfast as I type this and it is good. Very lightly dressed but still enough slick and a creeping hit of ma la (very fresh peppercorns).
I was out walking today when I saw a man park a car with Dragon Bowl Brookline on it. The car has been around the corner of Mass and Marlborough since the opening so I suspected it might be related. Today I walked to the corner and watched him walk into Chef Chang On Back Bay.
Maybe the two are related in some way.
Tried this tonight with friends. It was a hit with all of us. No authentic Chinese experts at our table but four friends who enjoy good flavors. We shared a few dishes.
Chicken Soong with Lettuce Leaf which was a lovely start on a hot night. I can see this as a regular take out item when I'm craving a light meal with great flavor. The two of us who cook the table were trying to pick out all the layers of flavor in this mix.
We also had the Beef with Scallion Rolls in pancake which I would happily order again and Shanghai Vegetable spring rolls to start.
Bashu Flavored Chicken was a big hit. When it arrived we thought it was a very large portion but as we ate we realized it was far lighter and easier to eat a lot of than one might think. It was not too hot for anyone in our group of mixed levels of spicy preference. Even the mild spice eater went back for more.
Country Style Braised fish in Yellow Wine sauce was the surprise hit of the night. We all loved the broth, the noodles, fresh baby bok choy, and the layers of flavor.
We made plans to go back with a larger group so we can repeat some of these dishes and try a few more.
NIce addition to the neighborhood.