Mama Chang opened early in 2019 in Fairfax, VA. It focuses on family dishes from the Hubei province, where Peter Chang is from, ones his mother and other females in the family cooked. There is less pepper than in the traditional Szechuan dishes. The large interior is filled with light from the many windows and white walls. Textured ropes hang from the ceiling, the well spaced light wood tables are bare and tons of green plants surround the room. It feels open and spacious but a bit sterile. Portions are generally large – we way over-ordered but wanted to try a number of the dishes. The server was masked and willing to give advice. One note is about their to-go containers which were nice plastic dishes with good locking lids not the usual leaky styrofoam containers.
We started with the chive pancake which came in 2 pieces and seemed more in the dumpling group than a pancake. It was well browned on the exterior and filled with chives. It came out quite hot but once it cooled a bit you could enjoy the fun flavor and texture of the piece.
Out next set of dishes all came out at once. The steamed pork belly with smoked tofu and pickled mustard greens was surrounded by bok choy. The flavorful broth hid the pickled greens below the pork and tofu, which were sliced and layered alternately. The tofu was not exceptionally smokey and the pork belly was quite meaty. Their tastes blended well but were mild compared to the tasty greens.
Hunan chicken chow mien included bean sprouts, onions, carrots, black bean, red chili and scallion all mixed with the noodles. The black beans gave it a lot of flavor and the dish rewarded the eater with lots of textures. The onion pieces were sweet and it was probably the favorite dish on the table.
Green beans with pickled cabbage were perfectly cooked very green beans. Their skin was blistered and the cabbage was in tiny pieces mixed throughout. It was a good dish.
Dry fried cauliflower was a surprise – one suggested by the server. It was lightly crisped pieces of cauliflower mixed with cilantro and scallions. The texture was really fun and so was the taste. A good suggestion and one I’d get again.