By Stefanie Gans and Rina Rapuano
Fairfax | Chinese | $$$
The space is bright, open, gleaming white with light wood. This is not the low-key strip mall digs where Sichuan sensation Peter Chang usually sets up shop. This is Mama Chang, the famed chef’s latest venture and one inspired by the women in his life: his mom, Ronger Wang, his wife, Lisa Chang, and daughter, Lydia Chang.
The balloon-like scallion bubble pancake is one of the few Chang signatures represented in Fairfax, and it still wows diners with its volume and fantastical deflation. Beyond that are the fiery dishes, a brutally spicy dry-fried cauliflower, a spicy, heady chili flounder and the chili-cumin bits of lamb. A rich, nutty sesame sauce coats noodles and crinkly green beans are salty and snappy.
The end can go simple with a squishy pineapple bun or unexpectedly Euro with a dark chocolate sesame flourless cake, featuring a slim line of fudge, and just a touch of sweetness to squelch the burn. // 3251 Old Lee Highway, Suite 101, Fairfax