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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "review"

Year in Review: These are our top 10 food stories of 2019

It’s been a big year for the Northern Virginia food scene: In 2019, the region was gifted a new steakhouse by a beloved brand, finally saw the opening of Aslin Beer Company’s Alexandria taproom, we explored the region’s wineries with new gusto and we released our annual list of the 50 Best Restaurants in Northern Virginia.

Below, find the top 10 most-read stories of the year. Here’s what you, our readers, ate up throughout 2019.

Westlake Legal Group bronson-hall Year in Review: These are our top 10 food stories of 2019 year in review top 10 review restaurants restaurant news Food News food and drink Food eating dining 50 Best Restaurants
Photo courtesy of Bronson Bier Hall
10. “It’s officially restaurant season. Find 26 new and almost-opened spots for pizza, mussels, ramen and cake.”

From Santana Moss to the Hilton Brothers, in late September we brought you a comprehensive list of the restaurateurs eyeing Virginia as a land of foodies.

Westlake Legal Group untitled-9952-scaled Year in Review: These are our top 10 food stories of 2019 year in review top 10 review restaurants restaurant news Food News food and drink Food eating dining 50 Best Restaurants
A fish dish at Amoo’s Restaurant (Photo courtesy of Rey Lopez)
9. “Here are the 21 best restaurants in Fairfax County”

From classic Italian food in a strip mall to a three-story steakhouse in Vienna, here are the best places to eat in Fairfax County, listed in alphabetical order.

Westlake Legal Group aslin2 Year in Review: These are our top 10 food stories of 2019 year in review top 10 review restaurants restaurant news Food News food and drink Food eating dining 50 Best Restaurants
Aslin Beer Company (Photo by Jonathan Timmes)
8. “Aslin Beer Company’s new Alexandria taproom is officially open”

The NoVA brewery opened its doors in Alexandria’s West End in July.

Westlake Legal Group mokomandy-shrimp-and-grits Year in Review: These are our top 10 food stories of 2019 year in review top 10 review restaurants restaurant news Food News food and drink Food eating dining 50 Best Restaurants
Shrimp and grits at Mokomandy (Photo by Rey Lopez)
7. “50 Best Restaurants: Mokomandy snags the No. 1 spot with its Cajun and Korean mashup”

Mokomandy has been in business for almost a decade. Here’s why we chose it as the No. 1 restaurant in Northern Virginia.

Westlake Legal Group trummers Year in Review: These are our top 10 food stories of 2019 year in review top 10 review restaurants restaurant news Food News food and drink Food eating dining 50 Best Restaurants
Trummer’s newest addition to the restaurant is a meat rotisserie. (Photo courtesy of Trummer’s)
6. “After a decade in business, fine-dining Trummer’s on Main closes, reopens as an American bistro”

The Clifton restaurant refreshed with a rotisserie-themed menu, but kept the Austrian touches.

Westlake Legal Group vermilion Year in Review: These are our top 10 food stories of 2019 year in review top 10 review restaurants restaurant news Food News food and drink Food eating dining 50 Best Restaurants
Scallops snuggle with bitter radicchio for a stunning autumnal scene at Vermillion. (Photo by Rey Lopez)
5: “50 Beset Restaurants 2019”

Our annual 50 Best Restaurants list featured full reviews of each restaurant named.

Westlake Legal Group pizza-being-cut Year in Review: These are our top 10 food stories of 2019 year in review top 10 review restaurants restaurant news Food News food and drink Food eating dining 50 Best Restaurants
Old Dominion Pizza Company (Photo by Rey Lopez)
4: “15 best new cheap eats in Northern Virginia”

Our May issue featured a whole new list of must-hit restaurants for good food that won’t empty your wallet.

Westlake Legal Group patsy-and-randy-wedding Year in Review: These are our top 10 food stories of 2019 year in review top 10 review restaurants restaurant news Food News food and drink Food eating dining 50 Best Restaurants
Married in 1967, Patsy and Randy Norton now own 16 restaurants in Northern Virginia. (Photo courtesy of the Norton family)
3: “Great American Restaurants honors its patriarchs with Patsy’s American and Randy’s Prime Seafood & Steaks”

Opened in mid-2019 in Tysons Corner, beloved Great American Restaurants opened three new restaurants, with nods to the family’s beginnings.

Westlake Legal Group norton-family Year in Review: These are our top 10 food stories of 2019 year in review top 10 review restaurants restaurant news Food News food and drink Food eating dining 50 Best Restaurants
Randy Norton (second from left) and wife Patsy, run their restaurant empire with their children, (from far left) Jill, Timmy and Jon. (Photo by Jonathan Timmes)
2: “How the Norton family built a Northern Virginia restaurant empire”

43 years, 16 restaurants, one family. With three new restaurants making their debuts, the family behind Great American Restaurants has built an eatery empire—and that’s no joke.

Westlake Legal Group table-of-food-at-patowmack-farm Year in Review: These are our top 10 food stories of 2019 year in review top 10 review restaurants restaurant news Food News food and drink Food eating dining 50 Best Restaurants
Food at The Restaurant at Patowmack Farms (Photo by Jonathan Times)
1. “These are the 10 best restaurants in Northern Virginia”

Our No. 1 most-read food article from 2019 was our list of the 10 best restaurants in Northern Virginia. From classics like The Restaurant at Patowmack Farms to newcomers like Fairfax-born Mama Chang, these are the 10 best places to eat in NoVA.

For more food & drink stories, subscribe to our weekly Food newsletter.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

I Need to Complain About the Lion King Remake

Westlake Legal Group TheLionKing-620x317 I Need to Complain About the Lion King Remake The Lion King review Movies Hollywood Front Page Stories Featured Story Allow Media Exception

I argued with myself about writing about this seeing as how I’m a bit late to the party and it’s been reviewed and criticized over and over again, but I feel like if I don’t get this out I’m going to explode.

I saw the latest entry in Disney’s attempt at reviving its past glory by making everything a “live-action” remix of the original. I want to treat my take on it here like a compliment sandwich. The only problem is that the very well made and enticing bread is holding in what I can only describe as a mess of three-day-old compost.

The movie wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t at all good either.

Let’s start with the good. The movie really shows off the extent of Disney’s abilities with CGI. There was so much attention to detail that I couldn’t tell what was CGI and wasn’t if they used real elements in the movie at all. In fact, they call it a “live-action” remake, but it’s mostly all CGI and we’re okay with them calling it “live-action” because it really does look like it. I was blown away by the littlest things like the waving of the grass and trees, the way the wind played with feathers of birds on the wing, and the way water splashed and soaked things when it was run through.

With that out of the way, I need to list why this movie had me leaving the theatre feeling melancholy, and I’m using that word specifically. I left sad.

I remember going to see The Lion King when I was around 10 and thinking I had just seen Disney’s greatest accomplishment. Not only was the animation stunning, but the African inspired music took me to the setting faster than any supersonic jet could, and the rid wasn’t just comfortable, it was exciting. The first moment that sun rose and the man came in with that drawn-out “Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba” I was stunned and enraptured. 

Fast forward to now and I’m waiting for that amazing moment when the sun rose and the song began. The movie opens with an African setting with the sun still down. It’s peaceful and serene, and then it happens. The sun pops up and the music starts…and I laughed out loud. The sun pops up almost comically and the timing of the song takes you by surprise as if both the sun and the song were late and making a comedic entrance.

That was my first step back into the world of The Lion King and it wasn’t a good start. The laughter wasn’t mirthful. I was involuntarily laughing at something, not with it. Sadly this would define a lot of the rest of the movie for me. Many iconic moments from the film would find me somewhere between disappointed and ambivalent.

One example is the death of Mufasa, which is supposed to be a heart-wrenching moment in the movie. While it still produces feelings of sadness, none of it hits home like it did in the original. Even my fiance, who tends to feel emotions far better than I do, didn’t shed a tear. One of the main reasons was easy to deduce.

I felt like the characters didn’t care.

Sure they sounded sad, but for a photo-realistic movie with lions that have a concept of feudalism and existential crises, we can include a touch of facial animation to help carry emotion. Simba had the same look on his face during the trauma of trying to reawaken his dead father as he did when he was happily playing with Nala. It so removed me from the moment that I became detached from what should have been an affecting scene.

Facial expressions carry a lot of weight in a scene, and they just left these behind in favor of “realism.” You could easily still have the photo-realistic animals and still have human-esque facial expressions. I know this because they did it well in The Jungle Book remake.

Here’s a super-cut of some of the animations within The Jungle Book. Notice how the animals still maintain a realism to them while still expressing human emotion. A subtle lift or furrow of the brow here, a slight upturn of the mouth there. Emotion is translated without taking you out of the feeling that you’re looking at wild animals.

The Lion King fails to do this and results in a removal from the emotional weight of what the characters are going through. This was described perfectly by David Ehlrich of IndieWire:

Most often, the animation is just bland in a way that saps the characters of their personalities. Scar used to be a Shakespearian villain brimming with catty rage and closeted frustration; now, he’s just a lion who sounds like Chiwetel Ejiofor. Simba used to be a sleek upstart whose regal heritage was tempered by youthful insecurity; now he’s just a lion who sounds like Donald Glover.

Speaking of the voice-acting, it’s very hit or miss. I’m a fan of Donald Glover and I think he does everything he touches well, be it music or comedy. Here, however, I felt like Glover was somewhat flat. Like he tried to be there, but just couldn’t quite hit the mark.

Mathew Broderick, the original Simba, brought so much personality to the character that Glover had an uphill battle ahead of him, to begin with. However, there was a sort of detachment there that made me divest from the character. I’d like to chalk that up to the lack of expressive animations, but both James Earl Jones’s reprisal of Mufasa and Seth Rogan’s Pumba were incredible.

I get the impression that Glover wasn’t playing Simba, he was playing Glover playing Simba.

You felt this way for a few of the characters, especially Scar and the hyenas, but the largest character letdown, however, was Rafiki the baboon.

Robert Guillaume’s performance as 1994’s Rafiki is one of the most underrated voice acting performances cinema ever produced. Not only did Guillaume’s Rafiki really deliver a character you never forget, but he also added subtle habits and sounds to his voice that made you truly believe you were watching a baboon talk despite it being a toon.

Watch this interaction between Guillaume and Broderick during a scene that teaches a lesson that has stuck with me since I was a kid. Bonus: listen to the powerful music once Simba realizes who he is and what he must do. A superb scene all around.

The footage hasn’t been clipped from the 2019 version as of yet, but I can tell you that the scene from the recent version is like looking at a shadow of the real thing. This is in part because Rafiki has been neutered.

Despite the fact that Rafiki is considered a secondary character, the baboon acts as the connections between the old and the new, and when he moves, the movie moves with him. When he got excited, you felt it too. When he went to go find Simba personally, you felt like you were watching the agents of Heaven move to realign the players of Earth.

In 2019, however, Rafiki felt less. John Kani delivers Rafiki’s lines with a quarter of the personality of Guillaume, and the character feels like a Rafiki cut with water. For instance, 94′ Rafiki is known as something of a mystic who can deduce events from far away by means we don’t understand. The Rafiki of 2019 has lost that magical part of him.

The scene where he finds out Simba is alive is a perfect example of this. In 1994, Rafiki finds out Simba is alive by pondering debris in a turtle shell after receiving it from the wind. In 2019, he finds out Simba is alive because Simba’s hair was brought to him via ants, who got it from a dung beetle, who got it from a giraffe’s poop.

This loss of magic takes away from the potency of the discovery and epicness of the events that transpire. It goes from being a moment of fate to a moment of happenstance. We’re supposed to be in a world of talking lions and Kings, yet we’re consistently pulled back from the edge with attempts at “realism.”

Pardon the quality but watch the two scenes side by side and see which scene carries the emotion, excitement, and possibilities with it. Pay attention to the musical ambiance that acts as a storyteller all on its own as well as Rafiki’s reactions.

This article is already overlong. I could go into how Scar used to be a clever and devious villain of great magnitude but only comes off now as a flat villain who never grew out of his moody teenage phase, but I’ll wrap it up.

I said earlier in the article that I walked away feeling sad and I want to explain that now that I’ve laid out some details that I didn’t like.

This movie, at least to me, felt like Disney was trying to give me something it thought I and my generation wanted. It tried to deliver our childhood back to us but now in a more mature format. Personally, I didn’t want that at all. I don’t need a more realistic or mature Lion King. I’m happy with, and cherish, the one I got when I was ten.

And I know this movie was for the adults who grew up on the original Lion King despite it being a family film. So many moments and jokes were targeted at people like me that called back to the original, usually in fourth-wall-breaking moments by Timone and Pumba who practically acknowledge that the audience has seen this movie before.

My age has nothing to do with my love of the mystical and fantastical. I’ll watch family movies as a man as enthusiastically, if not more so than I did when I was young. I love the idea of a lion talking to a meercat about the quality of bugs, or a wise baboon teaching a young king an important life lesson. This doesn’t need to be mixed with so much realism that the magic begins to feel hollow.

It made me feel legitimately sad to watch something so exciting and welcoming from my childhood flicker and fade in the face of trying to grow up.

As C.S. Lewis said: “When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown-up.

Disney shouldn’t be afraid to make a magical movie for the kids with nods to adults like it used to. Trust me, the kid is still there, he just has a driver’s license and bills now. Both of them will still love it regardless.

The post I Need to Complain About the Lion King Remake appeared first on RedState.

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The DOJ Opens a “Broad” Anti-Trust Review of Big Tech Companies As Concerns Mount

Westlake Legal Group bill-barr-smiling-620x317 The DOJ Opens a “Broad” Anti-Trust Review of Big Tech Companies As Concerns Mount Social Media Section 230 review Politics Partisan Suppression Open Platforms monopolies Front Page Stories Front Page Free Speech free market Featured Story doj discrimination collusion bill barr big tech anti-trust

Attorney General William Barr appears before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee to make his Justice Department budget request, Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The DOJ opened what it calls a broad anti-trust review of major big tech companies, a move that’s been threatened by President Trump in the past.

This comes in response to more and more questionable behavior by big tech companies, including accusations of partisan speech suppression and even evidence of Google working with China.

The U.S. Department of Justice said on Tuesday that it’s opening a broad antitrust review of big tech companies, sending shares of Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook lower in extended trading.

While the DOJ didn’t disclose specific company names, it’s launching the review based on “new Washington threats” from Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. The agency will examine practices of online platforms that dominate internet search, social media and retail services, the DOJ said in a statement Tuesday.

The DOJ put out a statement, highlighting some of the issues they’ll be investigating.

The DOJ said in Tuesday’s release that it’s looking into competition, “stifled innovation” and the impact on consumers.

“Without the discipline of meaningful market-based competition, digital platforms may act in ways that are not responsive to consumer demands,” said Makan Delrahim, assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, in the statement. “The Department’s antitrust review will explore these important issues.”

This will likely cause a split within conservative thought. There are some that say big tech companies should be free to do as they please, no matter what that entails. In theory, that sounds good and principled. I’m not sure how workable it is in reality and that’s something that’s going to have to be grappled with. Everyone is fine with the status quo until the status quo eats them and the tech companies are only becoming more illiberal in their policing of speech and suppressing content.

As I’ve argued before, I see no contradiction, nor do I consider it “big government” to make tech companies live by the same rules as other publishers of content. What makes a social media platform different than a news website that can be sued for copyright infringement? Technically, there is no difference. We’ve just allowed big tech to pretend there is while simultaneously operating as curators of content. Section 230 was originally meant for ISPs, not websites like Facebook. If Facebook would like those protections, I see no reason they can’t simply operate as a public utility and open platform.

Obviously, there are other issues at play. Some will claim Section 230 never mandated neutrality. I’m not sure that’s true given it’s intent, but regardless, there is still a problem to be dealt with. Laws can be changed and I see absolutely no issue with telling big tech to not discriminate or face the same environment everyone else does on the internet in terms of liability. No new regulation or government control is needed. They can simply face the free market of lawsuits and see how they fare.

The issue of anti-trust laws takes things a step further though, possibly breaking up big tech companies that are colluding, participating in monopolistic behavior, and/or discriminating on partisan grounds. We are in uncharted waters in regards to this issue. It’s not enough to just appeal to principle when a company like Google can literally erase history with their machinations. There are very legitimate concerns that a few big tech companies could have near complete control of the flow of information.

I’m not sure I agree that anti-trust laws have been broken, but that’s the point of a review. Perhaps it will at least put pressure on these companies to take a step back. If that happens, it’ll be a good thing.

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The post The DOJ Opens a “Broad” Anti-Trust Review of Big Tech Companies As Concerns Mount appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group bill-barr-smiling-300x153 The DOJ Opens a “Broad” Anti-Trust Review of Big Tech Companies As Concerns Mount Social Media Section 230 review Politics Partisan Suppression Open Platforms monopolies Front Page Stories Front Page Free Speech free market Featured Story doj discrimination collusion bill barr big tech anti-trust  Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Review: Toy Story 4 Completes The Story Pixar Began 24 Years Ago

Westlake Legal Group toy-story-4-e1561516303407-620x323 Review: Toy Story 4 Completes The Story Pixar Began 24 Years Ago woody Toy Story 4 Toy Story review Pixar Movies movie Front Page Stories Disney Culture buzz lightyear Allow Media Exception

On November 22, 1995, the first Toy Story hit theaters and told an incredibly compelling tale of what it’s like if the toys we played with as kids has minds of their own. These toys were given very real personalities, complete with very real and incredibly human emotions. Four years later, Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the gang returned for their second adventure in Toy Story 2.

Eleven years later, they all returned in what was expected to be the final movie in an excellent trilogy, Toy Story 3. Here, Andy – the kid who played with all these toys for years – was grown up and going to college. The toys struggle with the fear of being sent away or locked in the attic, but in the end, they get the best reward possible: They are given to a small child, Bonnie, and their adventures as playthings start over.

But, as it turns out, that wasn’t their final adventure. Disney and Pixar came up with one last hurrah, Toy Story 4, which came out last weekend. If you have not seen it – with kids or without, I won’t judge – you need to immediately.

Warning: Spoilers are below. Stop here if you do not want to read any details of the plot.

The story begins by filling a plot hole from earlier in the series: What happened to Bo Peep, the love interest of Sheriff Woody? In a previous film, she is referred to simply as one of the “ones we lost,” in the process of the kids (Andy and his sister, Molly) growing up. However, we see a rainy night, and Woody and the gang sneak into Molly’s room while everyone is downstairs, trying to find RC, the remote control car, who is stuck outside in the rain, in danger of floating away.

The scene shows just how veterans like Woody and Bo Peep quickly analyze the situation and figure out a plan to save RC. However, during the rescue, a man shows up and takes Bo Peep, her sheep, and her lamp away. During their rainy goodbye, Bo Peep offers Woody a chance to come with her, saying “Kids lose toys every day.” We see the power of their connection before Woody hears Andy outside in the rain. He is in a panic, looking for Woody. The sheriff hesitates and ultimately stays behind without Bo Peep.

When he sees Bo Peep again, years later, she is a lost toy (she escaped a nearby antique store a while back) who sees a chance to explore the world and meet a lot of children by playing in the local park and eventually plans to leave town with the traveling fair that has stopped by. Woody recruits Bo Peep and her sheep to save a spork/craft named Forky and get him back to Bonnie.

Eventually, he does succeed, but he is faced once again with the tough decision: Go with Bo Peep or go with his kid. Buzz helps Woody by saying “She’ll be fine,” with Woody assuming he means Bo Peep until Buzz says “Bonnie will be fine.” The movie ends with the toys all leaving with Bonnie and her family, save Woody, who stays with Bo Peep to see the world.

I will not lie to you folks. I cried twice during the movie. The first time was at the end of the opening scene, when Woody chooses to stay behind while Bo Peep leaves. The second time is when he chooses to leave his kid behind to stay with Bo Peep.

Granted, it was hard to not cry at the end of Toy Story 3 when Andy hands over his toys to young Bonnie and he has that moment of realization that he’s giving away his childhood – particularly as he hands over Woody. However, while that was a satisfactory ending, it didn’t quite feel like a true ending for Woody and the gang. There was a new kid, new adventures, and lots that could still be told if Disney and Pixar chose to tell it. It was very open-ended.

Toy Story 4, however, is left just as wide-open, but also feels like an appropriate end to the story. Woody is an old-hand at this toy thing. He was, by his estimate, produced in the 50’s, making him more than half a century old. Jessie and Bullseye are probably the next oldest (they were collector’s items, too) but every other toy was much newer. Buzz Lightyear, who made Woody very much a “Get Off My Lawn” kind of guy, was still basically a child (this is best demonstrated in the movie when Woody talks about his “inner voice” – his conscience – telling him what to do, and Buzz thinks he’s referring to his voice box and drawstring).

So, “retiring” Woody at the end of the movie makes the most sense and brings about a sense of finality that Toy Story 3 didn’t have. That’s not a knock on the previous movie, which is still probably my second-favorite in the series, but the fourth installment goes a long way to actually close his story.

It’s been 24 years of great adventures, and this movie is the perfect closer.

The post Review: Toy Story 4 Completes The Story Pixar Began 24 Years Ago appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group toy-story-4-e1561516303407-300x156 Review: Toy Story 4 Completes The Story Pixar Began 24 Years Ago woody Toy Story 4 Toy Story review Pixar Movies movie Front Page Stories Disney Culture buzz lightyear Allow Media Exception  Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Renowned-chef Peter Chang brings new dining concept to Fairfax

Westlake Legal Group Feature-image Renowned-chef Peter Chang brings new dining concept to Fairfax summer eats spicy Reviews review Peter Chang mama chang kitchen Food fairfax Cuisine
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)
★ ★ ★ ☆
SCENE

Peter Chang comes home to Fairfax, this time in a serene, brightly lit space fit for family outings and spice seekers.

DON’T MISS

Scallion pancake, Wuhan sesame noodle, chili fried lamb, green beans, dry-fried cauliflower, chili flounder.


“There should be 10,” he says, not missing a beat.”How many peppers are on there?” the manager asks, already knowing the answer, referring to the illustrated count next to the dish of chili fried lamb.

On the menu there are four red chilies, the most possible, which could pass as exclamation marks.

My dining companion and I look at each other, and nod in agreement: We’re ordering anyway.

I trust Peter Chang. It’s not that I trust him to prepare a tame dish—I expect the pleasure-burn-pleasure cycle—it’s that I trust his judgement. I trust his kitchen to find a way to turn heat into something to find joy in. The little pieces of lamb, scattered about with scallion and dried chillies and cilantro, a triumphant trifecta in Chang’s canon—offer a dry, scorching, creeping, visceral heat that makes me cough as much as it makes my chopsticks search for another bite.

Fried chunks of flounder, topping an intact fried fin, induces the same shock of fire. But I found myself nodding along with a friend, on another visit, as she said, smiling, “This is such an enjoyable dish.” We sat back, admiring the plate, where fermented, salty, savory black beans filled in between the lumps of fish with an almost gelatinous, melting interior.

“You can pick at this all night.”

And we did, adding bites of the subtle Buddha-style bean curd roll, like a crepe cake, but with tofu skin, mushrooms and soy gravy, instead of crepes and cream, plated with bok choy, offering a contrast, an impassive partner on a menu full of wild cards, showoffs and scene stealers.

Westlake Legal Group green-beans Renowned-chef Peter Chang brings new dining concept to Fairfax summer eats spicy Reviews review Peter Chang mama chang kitchen Food fairfax Cuisine
Green beans (Photo by Rey Lopez)

Mama Chang, the latest concept from restaurateur and chef Peter Chang, takes a cue from the women in his life: His mom, Ronger Wang, is an adored home cook, his wife, Lisa Chang, is an accomplished chef in her own right and his daughter, Lydia Chang, runs their business development. Where Chang is mostly known for Sichuan cooking, this menu finds inspiration from the home style cooking of Hubei and Hunan, swapping a reliance on peppercorns for chiles.

Mama Chang’s menu, save for the crowd-favorite scallion bubble pancake (a huge inflated ball of fried dough that puffs out air upon being torn open, and is a good idea to keep on the table as a neutral bite. Plus, that curry sauce is good on its own.), is no copy-and-paste from other menus. There’s not even a safety net here, no egg drop soup, no kung pao chicken.

The menu is set up like many modern American restaurants: a section each for small bites, small plates and family style entrees. And just like some share-everything spots, plates land quickly and virtually all at once. The food is dropped in minutes after ordering. It’s frantic and can be hard to enjoy everything at the same time, not fully immersing in one dish for fear another will be cold before trying it.

But because the onslaught is so enjoyable, it’s hard to be mad.

Westlake Legal Group Noods Renowned-chef Peter Chang brings new dining concept to Fairfax summer eats spicy Reviews review Peter Chang mama chang kitchen Food fairfax Cuisine
Wuhan sesame noodles (Photo by Rey Lopez)

There are Wuhan sesame noodles, in a rich, nutty sauce coating chewy strands. There are crinkly green beans, snappy, blistery skin, decorated in salty, crunchy specs and dry-fried cauliflower that’s another reminder that “fried” doesn’t always mean greasy gut-bombs. It feels seasoned, airy even, and brutally spicy. Hankou roast cumin flounder, noted on the menu that it comes with bones, is a little like nibbling on a chicken wing or a quail leg. It’s taking careful bites around bone—the gratification is not just in the burn but in the quest to find the little nooks of meat.

The dishes on the spicier side tended to fare better: a roast pork belly in a bun is all crackle, not sumptuous meat, and the bun is awkwardly double the size of the pork. Caramel rice with thin strips of pork belly layered atop the mound of rice is sweeter than dessert. (No really, the pineapple bun and fermented rice cake are just shy of savory, and also really lovely last bites.) The pork belly has sugar and soybean powder sprinkled on top, and while it does provide reprieve from the heat of an array of other dishes, white rice is still preferable. Roast duck is best left to dedicated duck houses and a shrimp dumpling offers little more than shrimp enrobed in a wrapper.

Westlake Legal Group nuts Renowned-chef Peter Chang brings new dining concept to Fairfax summer eats spicy Reviews review Peter Chang mama chang kitchen Food fairfax Cuisine
Dry-fried cauliflower. (Photo by Rey Lopez)

Chinese squash with baby shrimp and goji berries is one of the more calming dishes, but whose simplicity came through, as was the home style soup of pork ribs and lotus root with its easy-to-love bone broth and uncomplicated aura.

The expansive space, minimal and airy, with white walls and light wood, is a departure from Chang’s otherwise drab strip mall locations in Arlington and Fredericksburg. It feels modern and timeless, with no indication of what type of food it may offer. It fits into the evolving restaurant scene of Fairfax County, the city where Peter Chang first cooked and became the known entity he is today.

“Fairfax is home to us. We’re back to our home base,” says Lydia Chang.

It’s good to have you back.

This post was originally published in our June 2019 issue. Interested in more food content? Subscribe to our monthly print magazine and weekly e-newsletter.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com