San Leandro Reviews
Bay Area Reviews
NOTE: This restaurant has closed
Summary: Good Chinese food made with fresh ingredients
Chang's is one of the newest restaurants in San Leandro, occupying a new building on MacArthur Boulevard, next to the new Starbucks. I'd heard from my friend Fanny that it was quite good, and Fanny spent a year teaching English in China so I trust her opinion on Chinese food. So when Lola came to visit us and take some more campaign pictures (September 2006), I suggested we go there for lunch.
We got to the restaurant a bit late and by then the lunch crowd, if there is a lunch crowd, was gone. Almost empty, the restaurant was quite nice. It might have been the early afternoon lighting, or the new chairs, fresh from their plastic wrappings, that looked like if they'd come straight out of the 1950s, but the restaurant reminded of my grandparents' home, of all places. The atmosphere was nice, another take on the new Asian bistro design.
The menu is mostly Chinese, though it also includes Korean BBQ. Prices are reasonable with meat entries in the $7.50 to $12 range, and seafood entries averaging $12. Some dishes are noticeably more expensive; a dish of crab is $20 while Korean BBQs are $18-20. The lunch menu is not much cheaper, with dishes from $7.50 to $9.50. Lunch started with kimchi, Korean pickled cabbage, cauliflower and bean sprouts. I'm not a fan of kimchi myself, but Lola, who likes it, declared it very mild and unmemorable. It was clearly fresh, however, and it had a nice presentation.
I had the shredded pork in Peking sauce ($7.50). It came with a sweet sauce that was very tasty, though its intense flavor easily overwhelmed the dish and made it difficult to eat much of it. It's definitely a dish you would want to share. My other complaint about the dish is that it had too many crunchy onions - a texture of which I'm not very fond. Still, it was quite good and I'd order it again, albeit with something else.
Lola had the Ma Po Tofu, which she deemed very good. This is a favorite dish for her, and she thought this version was very well executed. Once again she noted the freshness of the ingredients. The dish was marked with a "pepper" for spicy, and indeed it was so even in its mild version. Don't order "spicy" unless you want to sweat. Lunch came with an eggroll each, which was fine. It had a crispy skin that wasn't oily, but it was filled mostly by lettuce. It also came with a soup that tasted "healthy." It was fresh, but not particularly tasty.
I had a strawberry-banana smoothie with my lunch ($3.50). It was nice, but rather mild; I would have appreciated a fruitier flavor.
In all, we had a nice experience, though there are a couple of kinks that the restaurant should fix. Service was competent but sullen; I almost felt like we were inconveniencing the waiter. Chopsticks were not present at the table; you had to ask for them. While I personally don't mind - since I became competent in the use of chopsticks, I don't feel I need to use them - but many people prefer them and asking for them is an inconvenience. Finally, our dishes were not served at the same time, which I find a major faux pas for a restaurant.
All that said, Chang's is a good addition to the San Leandro culinary scene and I don't doubt we'll go again.
Chang's Gourment Asian Restaurant
1057 MacArthur Blvd. Units B & C
San Leandro, CA
M-T: 11 AM - 9 PM
F-Su 10:30 AM - 9:30 PM