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The good new is, like his other venues, Peter Chang’s newest restaurant, Mama Chang, serves bold, delicious, authentic Chinese food. The even better news is, unlike the other Peter Chang restaurants, the focus at Mama Chang is on dishes created by Peter Chang’s wife and his mother, as well as dishes influenced by his grandmother and daughter, all of whom are some seriously talented chefs.


Peter Chang’s restaurant empire now consists of seven Peter Chang restaurants, all of which have the same, or close to the same, menu: Q by Peter Chang, a more upscale version of the classic Peter Chang restaurant, and now, Mama Chang. As noted, Mama Chang highlights dishes created by the female chefs in his life, and it focuses on the cuisine of the Hubei region of China, where his mother was once a farmer, as well as the neighboring Hunan region.


I start every meal at a Peter Chang restaurant with an order of bao, and Mama Chang is no exception. These chewy clouds are golden on the bottom, vegetable laden in the center, and perfectly puffy on the top. Noodles, which I think are a comfort dish made by mothers around the globe, are a highlight at Mama Chang, with options ranging from pan friend noodle to wuhan sesame noodles to suanla rice noodles. The rice noodles not available at any other Peter Chang restaurant and I highly recommend them. The noodles come swimming in a savory broth, which is studded with pickled veggies and doused with chili oil. Pan fried green beans come charred and are super savory, a perfect contrast to the sweet and sour lotus root. Perhaps the best vegetable dish is the cauliflower and eggplant stir-fry, the eggplant is cooked with exquisite precision so that it is delicate and soft, without any mushiness or stringiness (a downfall of many eggplant dishes I have found).


There is wine and beer and cocktails at Mama Chang, get whatever will pair well with the spiciness and bold flavors of the food. I went for sparkling rose because it was cold and refreshing and felt like spring.


Fairfax may not be your neighborhood, but it is worth a visit just to dine at Mama Chang and try the food Peter Chang grew up eating. This is the real Chinese food, made from scratch – bao are filled by hand, dumplings are folded and crimped daily, and spring rolls are stuffed and rolled and fried to order.