Restaurant: Q By Peter Chang
Location: 4500 East West Highway #100, Bethesda, MD 20814. (240) 800-3722
Date: November 20, 2018
Cuisine: Szechuan Chinese
Rating: Great food, but flavors not as strong as in Szechuan
Any excuse to go to a Chinese restaurant is a good excuse in my book — and that goes doubly so for Szechuan Chinese.
So back in DC visit my parents and friends we were drawn to “famed” (in Washington) chef Peter Chang’s flagship: Q.
Peter Chang is an award winning chef specializing in Szechuan cuisine who has cooked for restaurants throughout cities in the American southeast and the DMV area. Chang was born in Hubei Province and trained in China, and cooked a meal for former Chinese president Hu Jintao. He moved to the United States to work as the chef at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. In the past, Chang has disappeared and left restaurants, inspiring a group of fans to follow his movement in Internet discussion boards, such as DonRockwell.com and Chowhound.
The interior has a decidedly nice build out in the modern Chinese style — done in a way that doesn’t look garish to Western sensibility.
From my cellar: 2011 Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett. VM 87. Fresh bouquet of pear and apple blossom. Delicately sweet on the palate, offering a nice interplay of apricot flavor and luscious citricity. A lovely kabinett to drink now.
The menu. Authentically long.
Vegetable Dumpling (steamed).
Flounder Fish with sour cabbage soup. My mom didn’t “trust” that I had over ordered and got an extra soup for herself. Lol, we had at least two dishes barely touched.
Scallion Bubble Pancake. A unique and delicious take on the standard scallion pancake — basically crossed with one of those puffy Indian breads.
Fresh Lily Dan Dan Mein. Had a touch of numbing flavor, and actually fairly authentic in taste profile. Not the super nutty kind. More like a typical Chengdu dan dan.
Sichuan Chili Wonton. The typical “numb taste wonton”. Flavor was pretty typical, not super spicy. Wonton type was a bit different than usual, closer to a dimsum.
Bought this champagne off the list.
Dragon eggplant with spicy garlic sauce. Pretty much eggplant in fish sauce — which is a dish I love. This version had good flavor and really lovely plating. The eggplant was cut in this interesting spiral. Disadvantage was that it was hard to get just some out, as the vegetable was all connected. It also emphasizes the slippery texture of the eggplant — I like it better mushed up. But still a nice dish.
Jade shrimp with crispy rice. Gluten free rice dome.
I think this dish might be related to the Westlake style tea shrimp? Not sure. Very unusual. The sauce was pesto-like, but with a cilantro flavor. The crispy rice was neat too. Never actually seen this combination.
All their rice is pink rice (with the red bean).
But we didn’t realize that it came with, so we also ordered egg fried rice with green onion.
AND Emperor’s fried rice. Alaska king crab leg with shredded scallop. So we had a LOT of rice.
Mapo tofu. An okay version of the classic. Needed more mala and maybe some more meat. Maybe it didn’t even have meat.
Braised kale noodles with lobster. Unusual too. Very mild in flavor.
Peking duck. A couple people at the table had never HAD peking duck. They loved it of course. Everyone does.
The traditional condiments plus a red horseradish sauce that was unusual.
Hot and Spicy Fish in Clay Pot. The classic fish filet in chili oil. Pretty nice version of the dish.
Cumin Lamb Chop. A more modern lamb chop version of regular cumin lamb. Excellent.
Plain lo mein.
Green pepper beef with leek. A sort of cross between the green pepper fish (but with beef) and the fatty beef in golden sour soup dishes. Very hot actually and quite good although we were all very full by the time it came.
I was surprised to find actual Szechuan food in Bethesda — and fancy at that! There are a lot of classic dishes here and somewhat updated takes on others. Decor and service are very updated. The modern updates on the dishes are mostly good (like the cumin lamb chops). But I would like slightly stronger more brazen Szechuan flavors — the elements are there but they are toned down a bit for the setting. Still, quite excellent.
For my catalog of Chinese restaurant reviews in China, click here.