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Fearless Critic restaurant review
DC
Food
Feel
Price
3.7
7.3
$45
Pan-Asian
Casual restaurant

Hours
Mon–Thu 11:30am–10:30pm
Fri–Sat 11:30am–11:00pm
Sun noon–10:00pm

Features Delivery, kid-friendly, outdoor dining, veg-friendly
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted

www.charliechiangs.com

Arlington, VA
4060 Campbell Ave.
Arlington, VA
(703) 671-4900
Ping by Charlie Chiang’s
More sugary sweet pan-Asian food from another mini-chain

When in the course of human dining habits, it becomes glaringly apparent that traditional Chinese-American is no longer a solid business plan, some misguided restaurateurs have concluded that it is then necessary to reinvent oneself as a fusion restaurant. This is exactly what the Charlie Chiang empire has done to its 20-year-old Shirlington location: they’ve sexed up the look, added exotic influences to the menu, and dubbed it Ping (after a Chinese character denoting highest quality and living). The exterior mimics bamboo shades offering glimpses of the inside, where patrons choose either the bar area—lively in red and black with community-style benches and flat-screen televisions—or the slightly more austere dining room which, despite the clear acrylic chairs and stainless steel lighting fixtures, manages to look warm and inviting.

They’re still doing the white bread-Chinese fare (General Tso’s chicken, beef with broccoli, and so on), but Charlie Chiang’s Ping now flirts with other corners of the continent, as well, and it suffers from a lack of focus. Hey, not since Genghis Khan has anyone successfully conquered all of Asia. Case in point: the half-hearted attempt at sushi. Even failsafe California rolls are only passable, seemingly made without the use of properly vinegared rice. A nigiri list without mackerel is forgiveable in a place that doesn’t purport to be a serious sushi joint—but, then, why would you even get sushi there?

The xiao die, or small plates, suffer from the classic severe sweet-tooth problems that plague pan-Asian joints around the city. Dong po, steamed buns folded around pork belly cooked in a rock-candy (!!) soy mixture, are a creative twist on pulled-pork sandwiches, with hoisin standing in for barbecue sauce, but they lack seasoning. Shiny, slippery shrimp, coated in a tempura-like batter, have a pleasing crunch but saccharine sauce. That same sauce—or something identically sweet and gloopy—seems to deck out sesame chicken, too.

More impressive is the restaurant’s ambitious beer selection, which offers a surprising array of imports and local award-winning brews. A less zealous wine list has more losers than winners; the cold sake list is a better bet. If the sugary dishes are any indication of the palates in charge of this restaurant, it should come as little surprise that, at the bar, martinis follow suit.

Come here only if you are craving the comfort of the old Chinese-American takeout standbys in a prettier atmosphere—or a sugar high to get you through the afternoon. When will it become glaringly apparent that oversweetened Pan-Asian isn’t a solid business plan either?

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