DC diners have a long history of chasing lauded Hubei-born chef Peter Chang to locations both near and far. First they followed his fiery trail in the early 2000s, as the former Chinese Embassy chef kitchen-hopped around Northern Virginia and beyond. And then devoted “Changians” helped build his and wife/co-chef Lisa Chang’s empire—now at a dozen dining rooms, including nine eponymous Peter Chang restaurants, Bethesda’s upscale Q by Peter Chang, homey Mama Chang in Fairfax, and Baltimore’s buzzy NiHao.
District diners will finally get lucky number 13: Chang Chang, opening in Dupont Circle this fall at 1200 19th Street, Northwest. The two-in-one concept—split between a modern dine-in restaurant and Chinese carryout, each with distinct menus—takes over the former Mai Thai space. Local firm Nahra Design Group will style the 200 seat dining room, bar, and garden patio.
“We’ve adapted to the pandemic business model,” says daughter and business partner Lydia Chang of the parallel dine-in and takeout operations, which will function in separate areas and have minimal menu crossover. “We know there’s a huge demand for Chinese carryout, and certain Peter Chang signatures. But we also want to highlight new flavors on the dine-in menu, and focus on quality, seasonal dishes.”
Chang-Out, as they’re calling the to-go/delivery arm, will feel more familiar to Chang loyalists. Lydia says to expect the hits: spicy kung paos, chicken with basil, dry-fried eggplant—the list goes on. Lisa Chang, the pastry and dim sum chef of the family, will offer her smash-hit scallion bubble pancake and other creations.
Chang-In, the full-service operation, will explore seasonal, nouveau-Chinese cooking. The Changs tapped rising star Chinese-American chef Simon Lam to helm the kitchen. Lam started at sister restaurant NiHao in 2020 and helped the dining room earn a place on Esquire’s “Best New Restaurants in America” list; he previously worked at José Andrés’s China Chilcano in Las Vegas and DC. Lam will work in tandem with the Chang family as well as longtime chef and collaborator Pichet Ong. Menus are still in development, as is the bar program, which will focus on baijiu—an earthy Chinese liquor—and cocktails infused with the spirit.
Lydia Chang, an only child born in her family’s native Wuhan, has risen through the ranks of her parent’s business. At 34, Chang is a partner and co-owner at Chang Chang and other restaurants, and the Director of Business Development for the group. The new spot’s name not only nods to the dual concept, but also two generations of talent.“He’s passing the torch,” Lydia says.
So how is it working in the family business? “Let’s just say that both of my parents are restless, persistent, and very hard working. I get a lot of that work ethic from them. At the same time, they’re giving me more opportunity to grow. I’d say it’s a mutually benefiting [partnership]. But the most import thing is we’re a family, so everything we do benefits the restaurants.”
Chang Chang. 1200 19th Street, Northwest.