While there were some definite kinks in the frenzied opening days of Peter Chang’s China Grill, upon return visits we’ve found that the restaurant is hitting its stride. And by return visits, I mean we’re addicted and may soon reach a point where we have honorary plaques on one of the tables for two. But we’ve also found that there are definite hits and misses off the menu. If you know what to order, you’ll have an incredible meal that will be some of the best Chinese food of your life. If you take a more haphazard approach to the menu, it can be a disappointing experience.

Things are made more challenging because the menu does not provide descriptions of dishes, the dish names are not always obvious clues, and the servers often don’t provide helpful guidance. But we’re here to help! Our strategy is to order one tried and true favorite and at least one new dish. We’ve been slowly making our way through the menu to find the true gems, so here’s our list so far of best of Chang. Are we missing anything?

Dan Dan Noodle – This is a classic Szechuan dish of noodles, spicy chili oil, Szechuan peppers, scallions, and pork or beef. Chang adds crushed peanuts and a blast of umami magic. While it’s listed under the “Snack” section of the menu, it’s filling and a great dish to share.

Shredded Tofu Skin in Chili Sauce – This chilled dish is a great refreshing vegetarian option. The delicate tofu skin is tossed with cilantro and the ever-present chili oil.

Coriander Fish Rolls – An appetizer that’s perfectly tender and delicious enough that the rolls don’t even need a sauce.

Szechuan Bang Bang Shrimp – A great appetizer to start out your meal, these shrimp are lightly fried and tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce.

Dry-Fried Eggplant – The Taste of China version of this incredibly spicy and unique eggplant ended up number one on my top five dishes in Charlottesville, and Chang has replicated the magic at China Grill. Incredibly addictive and sweat-inducing.

Szechuan Double Cooked Chicken – While not an incredibly unique flavor, the savory smokiness of the chicken makes this a great main dish option. It’s also one of the few dishes that isn’t spicy.