Peter Chang—no, not the Peter Chang who has made a triumphal return to Washington with a new Szechuan restaurant in Arlington—is a seventh-generation restaurateur, scion of the original Duck Chang, a Chinese chef whose claim to fame was having cooked the preparatory banquet dinners Nixon and Kissinger sat down to before embarking on their historic trip to China. Chang is justifiably proud of that connection, but even though that history ought to enrich your experience, it’s not why you’re here. You’re here because no other Chinese restaurant in the area makes food quite like his. One moment you’re inhaling a salad of crumbled tofu and chopped egg with sesame oil, cilantro, onion, and thousand-year egg (a piece of esoterica familiar to Chinese expats); the next you’re trying to figure out the inspiration for Shrimp Pepperada, an unlikely concoction that summons mapotofu, Manwich, and sweet-and-sour shrimp and that somehow, for all that, is excellent. Then there’s the whole duck, prepared two ways, Peking and Szechuan style, each crisp-skinned and marvelous.
Where you can get it: 4427 John Marr Dr., Annandale; 703-941-9400
Also good: Duck-bone soup; duck fried rice; taffy bananas.