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gnatharobed

Peter Chang Really HAS Been Found!

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Very likely that was her. Your description is exactly on point.

I really miss her wontons. The word "wonton" means "eating clouds" and hers had such a gossamer texture, they really deserved the name.

I have yet to make the trek to Cville but the one thing I crave above all else is the dipping sauce for the steamed eggplant appetizer. Five spice powder, dark sesame sauce, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, chicken broth, I don't know what else, I find it indescribably delicious. If that's Mrs. Chang rather than Mr. Chang, well, I admire her even more.

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I really miss her wontons. The word "wonton" means "eating clouds" and hers had such a gossamer texture, they really deserved the name.

Really? I always heard it meant something like "oddly shaped dumpling".

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Wonton does not mean eating clouds. There is another name for wonton that does mean eating clouds. Hope that clarifies the confusion. I don't think wonton means anything.

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Wonton does not mean eating clouds. There is another name for wonton that does mean eating clouds. Hope that clarifies the confusion. I don't think wonton means anything.

Years ago, there was a Chinese restaurant in Rehoboth called "Wonton Desire". ;)

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I did not get the sense that he was all that enthusiastic about the food, but he captured the mysteries that surround Chef Chang, without actually resolving any of them.

Not enthusiastic about the food? You need to read the paragraph on p.29 that begins, "There was equal concentration..."

As for the mystery of Chang's moving about, I will simply say that if there were a simple explanation, there wouldn't be any story. Trillin says the reasons Chang offers are as complex as his cooking.

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Down here in the mountains, the New Yorker hasn't yet penetrated--not available on any newsstand I've found, but there are lots of gun and tricked out truck magazines. Ah, life in red territory. The local library gets it but as of 2:30 today it still wasn't on the shelf. The NYer folks promised to send some copies and maybe even a pdf of the article, but nothing on that front yet either.

Maybe tomorrow.

I went to the local Borders today to no avail. Their truck deliveries were delayed by the snow fall. No matter. I gave myself a free, trial subscription to the New Yorker's digital edition. Done.

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Guess how many new memberships we've had today because of the article?

Two.

Guess how many new memberships we had because of my eighteen-month tenure as Washingtonian wine columnist?

Zero.

DIFFERENT. UNIVERSE.

I take it back.

Help.

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I take it back.

Help.

Well, DonRocks, here is the solution. You need to get a steady, paying job at the New Yorker. It's been around since 1925.

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Todd Kliman's crazy, delightful piece in the Oxford American is also about Peter Chang, but in no way travels the same territory that Calvin Trillin does. It's interesting that the OxAm was able to get a quote from the editor of The New Yorker on the coincidence of the two articles. God save us from the crowds that will inundate Charlottesville now. But I'm thinking the hordes may not drive Chang away -- only accelerate his move to franchising, which would, luckily for us, include Fairfax.

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Calvin Trillin suggests in an e-mail that the time is ripe for an august critic to make the trek to Charlottesville and reveal what simpletons we all are and how Peter Chang really doesn't know a wok from a jalapeƱo.

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Are you ready for a hearty laugh? This is from the mid-Atlantic Chowhound board:

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.

mojoeater Mar 03, 2010 09:21AM

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Are you ready for a hearty laugh? This is from the mid-Atlantic Chowhound board:

Bravo Mr. Chang, bravo!

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Bummer...I'm heading down to Charlottesville for this weekends UVA/Cuse lacrosse game and was thinking of working a meal in here.

I'll probably still make an attempt to check it out regardless...but I suppose I should temper my expectations.

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Bravo Mr. Chang, bravo!

I'd actually like to know if this is true, because I was considering making the pilgrimage myself at some point.

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I'd actually like to know if this is true, because I was considering making the pilgrimage myself at some point.

I doubt he's leaving there anytime soon, and I have a little bit more hard information than just a hunch that makes me confident in saying that. Let's just say I got some input within the last few days.

However, nothing is certain. The pictures and medals and certificates are on the wall to the right as you go in, down toward the far side of all the pix of the good dishes. If those are gone, then he is gone. So please, everyone who goes, take a look and report if they go missing. As long as they're there, should be no problem, unless you happen to hit his day off, which I don't know what is (should have asked but didn't).

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We'll be there on Saturday. If the pictures and medals are still there, we'll know then.

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However, nothing is certain. The pictures and medals and certificates are on the wall to the right as you go in, down toward the far side of all the pix of the good dishes. If those are gone, then he is gone.

This is almost like some sort of Fellini film.

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This is almost like some sort of Fellini film.

"Almost"? ;)

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This is almost like some sort of Fellini film.

More like a Yogi Berra saying -- you know which one.

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More like a Yogi Berra saying -- you know which one.

"It ain't over 'til the Chinese lady sings"?

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I'd like to go but not anytime soon (unless the crowds die down quickly). I've only had Chang's food once. While I think it's good and his scallion pancake unique, based on my limited experience, I'm not so certain that he's head and shoulders above Hong Kong Palace. It could be because we ordered what we're comfortable with and not his most inventive/best dishes. Of course, looking at the fairly typical Sichuan menu, it's hard to know what's unique to him. If anyone knows of other dishes that separates Chang from other Sichuan chefs, please post up.

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I'd like to go but not anytime soon (unless the crowds die down quickly). I've only had Chang's food once. While I think it's good and his scallion pancake unique, based on my limited experience, I'm not so certain that he's head and shoulders above Hong Kong Palace. It could be because we ordered what we're comfortable with and not his most inventive/best dishes. Of course, looking at the fairly typical Sichuan menu, it's hard to know what's unique to him. If anyone knows of other dishes that separates Chang from other Sichuan chefs, please post up.

I hate to keep trotting this old thread out, but I think it's an important document, because it predates all of the currently popular writings on Chang, and is a journal of my early exposure to him - completely at random, because the first time I went there, I didn't know anything at all about some "special chef" who was supposed to be working there; I was merely catching up with a beloved Chinese friend for lunch, who told me that China Star was developing a good reputation among the area Chinese community - Su-Fei, if you only knew that you may have played a small part of Chaos Theory in action. This post was written around the time he left. Eric, you know how much I love that Cumin Fish at Hong Kong Palace (and I reiterate to everyone who hasn't tried it: It's a great dish), but Chang's Roasted Fish (I think that's what it was called at China Star - it was the one with filets stacked up in sort of a tripod with green onion, which he also reproduced at China Gourmet), his Fish with Sour Mustard, and the genius of the Marinated Duck Feet (served cold in an apothecary jar with pickled vegetables, which completely balanced the ferocity of his cooking) were what first blew me away (along with that incredible scallion pancake which absolutely had to be eaten within minutes of serving (although in retrospect I enjoyed it as carryout also)). I've had his food in DC no less than ten times, at all of his restaurants, and to this day I believe that, at its peaks, it's some of the most skillful cooking I've ever experienced. I remember Robert Shoffner saying that Chinese is one of the world's great cuisines, and I spent a long time trying to figure out what on God's green earth he was talking about, because from my (localized) experience, Chinese food was nothing but a bunch of greasy glop; but Chang was the cook that made me realize that Shoffner was right - and Chang's was only one style of cooking out of this gigantic, ancient country with a multitude of regions and cultures - there could perhaps be a thousand Peter Changs in China. Nothing else I've ever tried compares to it, which probably says more about the dismal state of affairs here in DC (and my limited exposure to truly great Chinese cuisine) as it does about Chang himself. I'll also add that I've never seen Peter Chang, and that I've had some misses in some of his restaurants. Was he there during those times? I don't know. But what I do know is this: Each time I've had the gunk that's served at Great Wall on 14th Street, my memory of Chang grows dimmer, and I find the cumulative effect to be dejecting.

I also read, objectively, some of my early writings on Chang, and I wonder now if I'm not romanticizing him, just a little bit - as always, life is not so easily analyzed.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I'm not so certain that he's head and shoulders above Hong Kong Palace.

I'm sure I've said this somewhere else, but what makes Chang's food pop for me compared to HKP is his use of bitterness to put his dishes into focus on the palate. That sounds wonky, but it came through dish after dish after dish.

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I doubt he's leaving there anytime soon, and I have a little bit more hard information than just a hunch that makes me confident in saying that. Let's just say I got some input within the last few days.

However, nothing is certain. The pictures and medals and certificates are on the wall to the right as you go in, down toward the far side of all the pix of the good dishes. If those are gone, then he is gone. So please, everyone who goes, take a look and report if they go missing. As long as they're there, should be no problem, unless you happen to hit his day off, which I don't know what is (should have asked but didn't).

as of yesterday, the pictures and medals were there, and the ma po bean curd was the best i've ever had.

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Its time to puncture the myth of Peter Chang and his so-called cooking. First of all, his real name is Barry Horowitz and hes writing a book to be called, How I Fooled the World into Thinking I was a Chinese Chef.* He pretends not to speak English because his Brooklyn accent would give him away. He moves around because his day job is as a hot dog vendor with a circus, and so he goes where the Big Top goes. His followers are various ringers parolees, Scientologists and desperate housewives. What he doesnt know about cooking would fill a book. Most of his concoctions come from Swansons, which he gets at A&P, leavened with generous amounts of Louisiana Hot Sauce and orange-flavored rice. By the time people catch onto his scam, hes already packing up.

*Look for it in October, Public Affairs Books, Foreword by C. Trillin, $22.95.

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