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The critic declared last year’s seven-week Noma Mexico pop-up perhaps the “meal of the decade.” As Sietsema reflects on the first oceanic courses at New Noma, the critic muses: “It soon becomes apparent that we’re eating the future, so influential is Redzepi’s thought process that his dishes are copied at the speed of the Internet by chefs around the world.” It’s not just that food is from the future; it also tastes good.“As in all high-stakes dining, I tend to ask myself a few questions, starting with whether the food was truly delicious,” Sietsema writes. I could live off sea snail broth, squid that eats like pasta and freak-of-nature mussels.” critic and noted Noma admirer Jonathan Gold also made it to Noma 2.0.Turns out, it’s chrysanthemum greens, and very tasty, too.
It’s a wholly unexpected place, eccentric and even a bit odd. It sits in a plaza across the street from the San Gabriel Square, adjacent to the San Gabriel Hilton. You have to ascend to the third floor of the mall to find it — which is not where restaurants tend to be.
The ground floor is heavy with Asian fast service places — Shanghai Dumpling House, Ajisen Ramen, Chengdu Lao Zu Hot Pot and much more — a tour of Asia, and mostly China, in one medium-sized mall. Clearly, this is a restaurant that you need to know about to find.
Well, when one of the most lauded restaurants of the past 10 years Does a Big Thing, the critics want to be there.
(Many critics also weighed in on Noma Mexico, which was a seven-week pop-up that sold out nearly instantly; at least there’s a theoretical chance readers can go to Noma 2.0 some day.) Read on for the critics’ takes on Redzepi’s newly relaunched restaurant — and stay tuned.
Those eating here are not here because a fast order of dumplings is what they want; they’re here for an experience. Those who are used to what might be called the San Gabriel Style might be confused walking through the door at Chang’an.
In a land of Formica tabletops, only perfunctory design, and certainly no bar, Chang’an offers a certain amount of shock and awe.Our group stayed in the hotel one night and had dinner and breakfast served in the restaurant.Food was of great quality and quantity - the chef was complimented.In terms of the menu, it’s traditionally arranged, broken into Starters, Soup, Main Dishes (Seafood under one heading, Meat and Vegetables under another), and Sides, along with a long section of Skewers.But aside from that, it demands a fair amount of consideration.There’s a glass-fronted refrigerator case in which you can marvel at the ingredients you’ll be served.And where service is often perfunctory, here it’s almost European in its concern.For although there are familiar names to be found — seafood spring rolls, spicy black cod, crispy shrimp, baby pork ribs — much of the menu consists of names that are new, and perhaps even unique to Chang’an.The crown daisy salad with peanuts and sesame dressing, a wonderful dish, elegantly presented and large enough for two, had me hitting the smartphone to figure out what it is.And I’ve been at the top, in seafood palaces with French wine priced in the hundreds of dollars.But I’ve never been to anything like Chang’an, which doesn’t look like a Chinese restaurant — and offers a menu that’s Chinese, hyper-Chinese and Pan-Asian at the same time.