50 Best Restaurants: Famed-chef Peter Chang’s newest site snags No. 5 spot

Just over six months since it opened, Mama Chang inspires with fiery dishes and a chocolate sesame flourless cake to boot.

table full of food at Mama Chang
The way to get the most out of a visit from Mama Chang is to order as much as you can and share everything, like the (from left) Wuhan sesame noodles, chili fried lamb, green beans, chili flounder fish and dry-fried cauliflower. (Photo by Rey Lopez)

By Stefanie Gans and Rina Rapuano

Mama Chang
Fairfax | Chinese | $$$

The space is bright, open, gleaming white with light wood. This is not the low-key strip mall digs where Sichuan sensation Peter Chang usually sets up shop. This is Mama Chang, the famed chef’s latest venture and one inspired by the women in his life: his mom, Ronger Wang, his wife, Lisa Chang, and daughter, Lydia Chang.

This post originally appeared in our November 2019 issue’s 50 Best Restaurants cover story. For more food reviews, subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

green beans from mama chang
Photo by Rey Lopez

The balloon-like scallion bubble pancake is one of the few Chang signatures represented in Fairfax, and it still wows diners with its volume and fantastical deflation. Beyond that are the fiery dishes, a brutally spicy dry-fried cauliflower, a spicy, heady chili flounder and the chili-cumin bits of lamb. A rich, nutty sesame sauce coats noodles and crinkly green beans are salty and snappy.

cauliflower in pot with fire at mama chang
Photo by Rey Lopez

The end can go simple with a squishy pineapple bun or unexpectedly Euro with a dark chocolate sesame flourless cake, featuring a slim line of fudge, and just a touch of sweetness to squelch the burn. // 3251 Old Lee Highway, Suite 101, Fairfax

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