Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dec. 18, 2010 - Peter Chang's

Dec. 18, 2010
Peter Chang's
6450 Powers Ferry Rd.
Sandy Springs, GA 30339

Finally! Tasty China's itinerant chef has opened his long-awaited restaurant. We were lucky enough to get tickets to the Grand Opening this past Saturday. Dishes were served family-style at a table set for 10 (luckily only eight of us showed). Thankfully, no one at Table 5 was shy about trying everything laid out before us. And special thanks to our server who snuck me a copy of the menu.

Among the cold appetizers (in place on the table before we even arrived), the black ear fungus was my favorite. It had that "cartilage" crunch from the mushrooms and was refreshing, not overly sauced. The Shanghai smoked duck was also wonderfully cooked, although I probably would have preferred if it had been served hot instead of cold. Also served but not listed on the menu, the cilantro beef was a solid dish. The shredded tofu skin reminded us of noodles and the chili oil was not too spicy. The sesame tofu was another table favorite.

Next up, the two hot appetizers. The seafood with dough ball soup was very delicate. The dough balls (which were more like tiny dumplings) were chewy and tasty. The soup did not have a fishy aftertaste at all. I was disappointed in the steamed dumplings that were rather pedestrian.

Nine courses of entrees tested our stamina. The dry-fried small fish (smelt) and dry-fried mushrooms were table favorites. Wonderful finger food and palate cleansers. The beef with snow bean was nothing special. The Peter rolls were not popular. Any subtle flavor was overpowered by ginger. The texture of the minced chicken in the stuffing seemed to confuse diners.

I have no recollection of the lamb which probably means that it wasn't spectacular, but wasn't bad either. In the shrimp dish, the asparagus was very well cooked and perfectly sized. The spicy fragrant duck seemed to be missing the "funyuns" that made the dish so successful at Tasty China. The dish lacked the extra crunch they provided to offset the fatty duck.

The Yangzhou fish was the consensus loser of the night. While beautiful to look at, it was far too sweet and drenched in sauce. To me, it felt like eating fried dough soaked in sweet and sour sauce. The crab meat with bean seedling was strange. Even though we could see crab in the dish, we smelled more than actually tasted it. The bean seedling had an asparagus aftertaste to it.

Dessert was served scorching hot. The red bean paste center was only slightly sweet, but after all the strong flavors, we probably could have used something to cut the savory overload.

In general, the dishes were less spicy than we have come to expect from Tasty China. Not sure if this was an intentional choice to the wider base of people who would be attending or just a function of this batch peppers not having much kick. The meal started out strong with the appetizers but did not finish well. Although it's possible this could be because were were all very full by the end.

Having read reviews from other people attending pre-Grand Opening events, I was sorely disappointed that pork belly did not make it onto our tasting menu. But at $35 for two people (not including beer or tip), I still received tremendous value. I'll be sure to order some when we come back to try again.


fooddoc said...

We were told by the Tasty China manager guy, (don't know what his exact role is), that the dishes were toned down for the dinner. I think we need to put the dinner in perspective. That's alot of cooking for an "opening" night and overall they were up to the task and the food quality was pretty good especially for the pre-paid cost of only $35 per couple. That said, we would basicly agree with the assesment of the various dishes with the spidery fish thing being something to gawk at but not to order in the future.

Kat said...

we returned last night for the first time since the opening dinner. though it was pretty quiet, probably4 other tables there somehow the hostess managed to seat us at one of the only tables without plates or silverware. when our appetizers came our server was nowhere to be found so my dining companion simply got up and retrieved place settings from another table. we got the Sesame Tofu and Crispy Pork Belly for appetizers. the Sesame Tofu is supposed to be a cold appetizer. it was at the December dinner and it's listed as such on the menu. it came out hot like a regular appetizer. it was still really good but MUCH spicier than December. the Crispy Pork Belly was like a spicy pork version of Calamari. very tasty.
for entrees we ordered Braised Fish and Clear Noodle under Chili Oil and Double Cooked Pork Belly. I can't really say if the fish with noodles is good because they brought us the wrong dish. they brought us the Braised Fish in Chili Oil with Soft Cabbage. we should have sent it back but by then we were so annoyed with the bad service that we decided not to say anything. the Braised Fish is really good. the fish is cooked wonderfully and the whole dish is full of flavor. the Pork Belly was great as well. obviously the fattier pieces have more flavor due to the way they thin slice the meat.
Overall the food is MUCH spicier than December's dinner, not a surprise to us but flavors are still incredible. the service is still shockingly awful. it took too long to get soda refills, thank god for the man roaming the dining room with a water pitcher and our server disappeared for long stretches at a time. I expect more service-wise from the level of restaurant Peter Chang's is aspiring to be.