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Tom Sietsema Swoons Over Peter Chang in Rockville and Arlington

Plus, reviews of Post Pub, La Limena, Pepita, and others.

Peter Chang in Arlington
R. Lopez

For his full review in the Washington Post, Tom Sietsema tries both Peter Chang locations and awards the Sichuan restaurant two and a half stars. The massive menu is nearly the same in both Rockville and Arlington. But he manages to try an impressive number of dishes including scallion bubble pancakes, fried fish rolls, steamed pork ribs, and the giant soup dumpling. The fried eggplant is a particular favorite. He writes:

"The drill at a lot of Chinese restaurants is variations on themes. Peter Chang makes every dish taste different, with repeat visits demonstrating a flair not just for fire, but for subtlety. Consider an appetizer of wood ear mushrooms...splayed over a mustard sauce with a hint of tingle. Or folds of velvety tofu skin tossed with pale green napa cabbage and a wash of white sauce bolstered with fresh garlic. A hot pot of duck and sour cabbage with silken tofu leaves a trail of white pepper in its wake."

He loves almost every dish he tries and decides Peter Chang is definitely the area's best source for Chinese food right now. [WaPo]

Tim Carman visits the Post Pub for his $20 Diner column in the Washington Post. The food can’t really compete with the trendy gastropubs of today, but that’s ok with him. It makes up for it in hospitality, warmth, and "soul." His strategy is to stick to draught beer and appetizers, particularly the solid onion rings. Concerning the rest of the food, he writes:

"The pub’s beloved line of burgers proved a bust, no matter the size of the patty. The mini lamb burgers were more like miniature logs...crying out for tzatziki sauce to save them. The Diplomat, ordered medium rare, turned out to be tall, dark and not so handsome. The best thing between two buns happens to be the barbecue sandwich..." [WaPo]

For last week’s $20 Diner column, Carman trekked to Rockville’s Ritchie Center where he dined with a reader at La Limena. There he tried nearly all the highlights of Peruvian cuisine:

"La Limena’s causas, or whipped-potato towers spiked with rocoto or aji peppers, are perfect vehicles for sweet crab meat or a pristine curl of shrimp. The tiger’s milk for the seviche comes studded with tiny dices of rocoto pepper, adding a small flame to the flash-marinated fish. The aji de gallina can seem tame by comparison, until you allow the dish’s quiet pleasures to find their voice among the more garish flavors at the table."

He also gives Tex-Mex, Vietnamese bahn mi sandwiches, and Indian a try at the shopping center's other restaurants, but none of them live up to the bar set by La Limena. [WaPo]

Don Rockwell tries Pepita in Ballston following a traumatic experience at Don Tito in Clarendon involving fried avocado tacos covered in "industrial coleslaw." He drinks a perfectly mixed Rickey and writes:

"It really is just a tiny little cantina, and it probably gets thumping-loud on the weekends, but the restrooms were squeaky clean, the drink selection is far-reaching, and my humble little Mexican Pizza was very good." [DR]

Rockwell also loves the "authentic" pork belly banh mi at Báhn Ta in Eden Center and the fettucini carbonara and salmon bruschette at Posto in Logan Circle. He simply likes the hefty pork and fries sandwich at Earl’s Sandwiches in Ballston. He’s satisfied with the Balt fish and vegetables at Danji in Centerville and the ramen at Ichiban in McLean, but it doesn’t sound like he’d go out of his way to seek them out any time soon. [DR]

Tyler Cowen eats at Dumpling Queen in Chantilly and calls it, "An unusual bundle of real Chinese dishes and for-America corruptions." He urges diners to try the excellent Xianjiang pork spare ribs, fried tofu with chiles, and the dan dan noodles. [TC]

He also mentions that the kifto (a dish of minced raw beef) at Dama Ethiopian Restaurant Pastry and Cafe in Annandale is the best version in the region. [TC]

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