Update March 26, 2014: See updated review of China Star here.
Update March 25, 2014: The former owners have opened a new place in Chantilly, 88 China Restaurant.
Update July 18, 2012: They have new owners, we are all starting from scratch here. Most of the dishes are worse, the braised fish actually is better. We’ll see how it evolves.
Great Szechuan if you know how to order properly. Get the spicy dishes and the specialties of the house. The Szechuan chili chicken has to be seen to be believed; get it on the bone. Get the sea bass with pine nuts and the crystal shrimp. The dried fried green beans. The Szechuan preserved fish. The Szechuan scallion fried fish, which goes well with the chicken with leeks. Don’t forget the salt and pepper eggplant. Get the dishes you have never heard of. Watch what everyone else is eating. The daily specials usually are excellent. The ordinary “Chinese” dishes here are quite unexceptional, avoid them. This can blow the roof off your mouth, they have four categories: normal, spicy, very spicy, and numbing. That should be all you need to know. For a fresh look at Chinese food, visit this place. I go back, and back, and back.
Update February, 2010:
China Star is my favorite Fairfax restaurant and it’s the #1 restaurant for GMU blogger lunches and debates (though one of us hates it; can you guess which one? We make him go nonetheless). It’s also where we take job candidates, at least the ones we respect. Even though Chang is now gone, the restaurant remains superb in the hands of his successors, who have kept many of his original recipes. Some people claim they get better meals when I go there to eat with them. It’s so close to our house that sometimes Natasha and I walk there. They know us well and are rarely surprised by our order. For two, our default is the braised fish and Sichuan chili chicken, on the bone of course. Scallion fried fish is a must for larger groups. John Nye likes General Kwan’s Spicy Beef there. They have real kung pao shrimp.