Chef Peter Chang has long since left the roost, but this graying Fairfax restaurant —where he cooked before becoming the vagabond genius lauded at multiple stops across the South—appears to have suffered minimally from his departure. It remains one of the area’s most satisfying and dependable sources of Szechuan cooking. Contrary to conventional wisdom, you don’t have to submit to being scorched to eat well when you eat Szechuan. Some of the best dishes here are more tingling than truly incendiary, such as a preparation of lamb dusted liberally with aromatic ground cumin and chilies, and there are always milder plates—say, cucumbers in garlic sauce—to keep at the ready in case you need them to tamp down the fire.
Where you can get it: 9600 Main St., Fairfax; 703-323-8822
Also good: Wontons in chili oil; Szechuan Kung Pao chicken; mapotofu.