Peter Chang’s China Cafe 
Richmond proper tends to beat the West End on all fronts when it comes to food culture. The trade off being the comforts of the suburban life for the what feels like the authenticity of urban life. So it is a real treat when a foodie famous chef shows up in a strip mall in Short Pump. Apparently Peter Chang is a bit of a rolling stone, but a stone that creates fantastic food where ever he lands. Something we did not understand the full gravity of prior to our trip there last week.
With sixty eight reviews under our collective belt, we are still mostly foodie layman. We did not hear about Chang coming to Richmond prior to his arrival, nor read the plentiful write ups post grand opening. We heard about it via word of mouth. In less than a week we had three recommendations to go. When we finally did the journey felt the same as most of our West End excursions. Park in the same parking lot as a Walmart and walk up to an unassuming space between a hair supply store and a GameStop. The interior felt just like any other Chinese eatery. Nothing about the location screamed life changing restaurant experience.
Showing up at 11:30a to a 10 minute wait did though. Peter Chang’s was packed, which is usually a good sign (see: Hogshead Cafe). When we were seated we went right to the lunch specials. An occasional bad habit we have formed over the past year. I quickly picked the curried chicken, snow peas and enoki mushrooms (L14.) and Ethan the stir-fried shredded smoked chicken (L17.). While sipping water and waiting for our meals we started to see all sorts of delights pass by our table. Pillow shaped fried things and steaming metal plates of lamb. When we had seen enough Ethan finally asked a waitress what we were looking at. The pillows were scallion pancakes for future reference.
When our lunch arrived it felt a bit pedestrian by comparison. They certainly looked appetizing (see the picture above), but they were not the three ring circus that had gone zooming past. Thankfully both meals were fantastic. Breaking the mold of the standard flavors I’ve come to expect from Chinese food in Richmond. They were not heavy or overly salted. The chicken and vegetables in each dish tasted fresh and were seasoned to near perfection. The bar was not very high in the first place, but Chang’s food leapt it with ease and raised to monumental heights going forward. Go to Peter Chang’s, get there early and you won’t be disappointed.