This week, Besha Rodell reviews the SGV's Chang'an, "a restaurant catering to a moneyed class of young Chinese diners who want atmosphere and wine and beer with their traditional and not-so-traditional Chinese food."
The dining room that "looks as if it could be set in West Hollywood" is full of young diners eating what the LA Weekly critic dubs as "New Fusion: the current brand of culinary mashup that distinguishes itself from old fusion because it relies not on gimmickry and cultural appropriation but on mixed identity and global citizenship."
Chang'an's New Fusion fare is "mainly fine and only rarely fantastic:"
The huge, multipage, mildly confusing menu is full of Sichuan dishes and Cantonese dishes and Japanese-style seared beef tongue and a beef tataki with capers that's sort of Italian-ish. A meat dish is just as likely to be garnished with grilled asparagus and saffron fronds as a shower of cilantro leaves or Sichuan peppercorns. There's a focus on grilled, skewered meat that's part Chinese and part Japanese — the cumin-heavy lamb skewers are delicious with one of the nuttier Japanese ales from the extensive beer list.
A focus on live seafood — killed and cooked to order — is reminiscent of the best Chinese banquet halls. Whole abalone, which was only available from the Chinese menu when I dined there, was smothered in so much garlic and scallion it was hard to taste the seafood. But the prestige associated with paying a premium price for such a delicacy was not diminished. [LAW]
Chang'an receives two stars.