New Yorker features local restaurant, chef

Back in November, Dish reported that renowned Szechuan chef Peter Chang was cooking at Taste of China in Albemarle Square, but the Chang groupies who've tracked the chef online for years were way ahead of us. Again, they've let us know that noted journalist, humorist, and food writer Calvin Trillin was in town and has penned a piece about the chef and his new restaurant in the latest New Yorker. Unfortunately, the online article is subscription only.

Update: In just the few days since this item appeared online, traffic at Taste of China has spiked, with reports of long waiting lines as Charlottesville clamors for Chang.

Update update:  "To judge by upcoming articles in both The Oxford American and The New Yorker, Chinese ©migr© Peter Chang may be the most obsessed-over, and mysterious, chef in the United States." So says a story in the Oxford American about Chang that came out at the same time as the New Yorker piece.


Wow. What are the odds?

Both pieces are wonderful, but I give the nod to Kliman's in the Oxford American. It was like being sucked into the world of a good short story.

OK, my stomach is growing, gotta make a run to T of C now! LOL!!

Colonel, try the crispy beef. That's what my date had and I tried it and ohhhhh man. It was melt in your mouth savory good.

maybe dumplings and wontons, being pre-made, aren't the best way of judging the restaurant, I don't know.

I also had the kung pao chicken and it was excellent. Not as good as house of nanking's, but very, very good.

I'll also tell you I had the egg drop soup and it was far and away the best egg-drop soup I've ever had. Often you get egg drop soup and it's stale and not particularly flavorful. With this the broth was just so and the egg seemed like it came straight from the chicken coop out back. Just that it seemed very high quality, to me.

The point has already tipped (re: Appreciator above). Went there Saturday evening (Feb. 27) at 6 p.m. The doors were locked, they weren't admitting any more diners because they were out of food. Tried to get in after 7:30 p.m. Mar. 3, and there were people waiting on the sidewalk with many more waiting inside the door. Went there a few weeks ago, food overly salty to my taste; was hoping to give it another chance, since can't afford to go to UK for real Chinese food any time soon. If this keeps up, we will turn into a bunch of 4:30 p.m. early-bird diners like in Florida!

Yeah I had conflicting information. Sounds like he'll be there for a while. Thanks for the update, Nancy Drew.

Sango, are you serious? Where did you hear this?

Just called Taste of China, chef Chang still there,-- was told, he likes Charlottesville, and has no plans of leaving .

Strike that. He may not be leaving this weekend. More info needed.

Yep. He's gone (as of this weekend). Training the staff on his recipies, but won't be the same to true Changphiles.

GAH! Anonymoose-- wonder how many of those people drove down from DC? Todd Kliman is a really nice guy, and I've always loved Calvin Trillin's writing, but I could seriously kill both of them for publicizing this place. I'm one of the lucky ones that starting eating here long before the rest of Charlottesville found out about it.

Thank you to yepper for recommending the crispy beef, kung pao chicken, and egg drop soup.

Thank you to Appreciator for recommending the eggplant.

I'm looking forward to going back and trying these dishes and more.


My new Asian eat-spot indefinitly. Formerly was Kyoto which is still delicious. Word to the wise on pork dumplings, stick with Marco and Luca

I read the article and ate there tonight with my daughter. We tried three appetizers: beef wontons in chili oil (bland), pan-fried pork dumplings (okay), and the fish-cilantro rolls (good). We also had Peking Duck (room temperature and dry) and Seafood Fried Rice (good but bland and not very warm).

I admit I am disappointed, but there could be an explanation. Maybe Thursday is Chef Chang's night off? Maybe it was an off night? I definitely am willing to go back and try some different dishes. None of the ones we ordered are specifically Szechuan. I would be interested to know if anyone has enjoyed a particular dish that they recommend.

I've been fortunate enough to eat some spectacular Chinese food in San Francisco, New York, Paris, etc., so I could have unreasonably high expectations, but the food not being hot? I'm used to so-so service in Chinese restaurants (and living in Charlottesville, we all just get used to it whether we mind or not), but the service was not good either and getting the check was a problem. As I said, I will definitely go back and hope for a better experience, but at this point, I don't get it. Is Chef Chang really in the kitchen?

I've read both pieces and, as is usually the case, the prose and voice of the New Yorker article has a sophistication and style that is unsurpassed. You'll note the oxford piece quotes the editor of the New Yorker, David Remnik? That's usually a clue about who is imitating whom.

I just ate there last weekend after the rave review in

Despite the hype, I was still pleasantly surprised. Although it is the second best Chinese restaurant I've ever been to (House of Nanking in San Fran takes the gold there), it is EASILY the best Chinese restaurant in Charlottesville.

the oxford american has this piece on chef chang and it's better than the new yorker piece

PS: cornstarch = çŜ�米ʷ�ç²�

Did find this about Chang at the New Yorker, thanks Dave can't wait to try his cooking before this "mysteriously peripatetic Chinese chef" moves on .

Thank you Jebus! (and Nancy Drew!)

Here's what I'm going to try -- from the New Yorker article (this is what Trillin & co. had for lunch):

"They started with some of Mrs. Chang’s appetizersââ?¬â?Hot and Spicy Beef Rolls, Tu Chia Style Roast Pork Meat Bread, Scallion Bubble Pancakes, and Fish with Cilantro Rolls."

Also in the article Trillin mentions fish with scallions as one of Chang's signature dishes.

With high hopes we went to "Asia Inn Taste of China" soon after the Advent of Chang. And haven't been back. If you like your food laced with corn starch then Ã¥â?ºâ?ºÃ¥Â·ÂÃ§â?Â·Ã¥Â­Â©'s (or ʹâ??Ã¥Å?â??çâ?Â·Ã¥Â­Â©'s?) the place for you!

I had lunch there today and it's BY FAR the best Chinese food joint in Charlottesville. Delicious! Reminded me of a real Chinese place like in NY or San Fran. Very damn good...

Rereading both the New Yorker and the Oxford American piece along with the comments here I think I'll give Chef Chang another try.

For a precursor to the story of Chang with Kliman and Trillin as Tintin see

While happy that more people will now be able to enjoy Chang's food due to these articles, I'm understandably worried that an already crowded restaurant will now reach the tipping point. It's been a happy little secret for some of us for awhile now. In the early days, we were sometimes the only non-Asians in there, which is a very good sign. Now, more often than not, there are large groups of UVA students. Large groups are much harder or a chef to deal with, so I hope Chang's salary is commensurate with their surge in popularity, and that he has solid people in the kitchen helping out. The dry-fried eggplant is AMAZING.