Chang Chang, famed Chinese chef Peter Chang’s first-ever DC restaurant, will launch on Saturday, October 8. The two-in-one-concept near Dupont Circle is split between an upscale, modern-Chinese dining room and a Szechuan takeout/delivery operation—each with distinct menus. To-go opens first, while the dine-in space is set to debut on Thursday, October 20 with dinner service, weekday bento lunches, and a creative Chinese-American weekend brunch.
The new venture is a family (and friends) affair—the 13th location for the Changs, who operate a string of casual Peter Chang restaurants, Bethesda’s upscale Q by Peter Chang, homey Mama Chang in Fairfax, and Baltimore’s buzzy NiHao. Chef Lisa Chang, the dim sum expert of the family, will serve her smash-hit scallion bubble pancakes alongside husband Peter Chang. Co-owner Lydia Chang, their only child, runs operations and development for the group. The family tapped Cantonese-American chef Simon Lam to helm the kitchen from his acclaimed post at NiHao in Baltimore. Pastry talent Pichet Ong will create sweets to stay and go.
For the opening, “Chang-Out” will offer well-known classics like dumplings, mapo tofu, eggplant with spicy garlic sauce, bamboo fish, and sweet-and-sour spare ribs. Though the hybrid restaurant concept is something new, Lydia Chang says it’s a successful model her family has practiced for years—especially in the pandemic.
“To-go is our bread and butter. It was shocking to us that although we were shut down for the longest time, some of our businesses—like Peter Chang Richmond—sales revenue didn’t decline. It actually went up.”
Changians may gravitate to “Chang In” for something entirely new (few, if any, dishes from the family’s restaurant empire will cross over). The space is outfitted with a 12-seat baijiu bar, seats for 180 diners, a patio, and a few large-group dining tables outfitted with lazy Susans. The Changs and Lam have been working together to create a nuanced, seasonal menu. Snacks include bite-size riffs on Chinese dishes such as three cup chicken-stuffed mushrooms or scallop toasts. Diners can share small plates such as pig trotters with chilis and chrysanthemum greens, and large-format platters like whole branzino with scallion and ginger. Chang is ready to unveil a new style of duck centerpiece that combines the distinct flavor of his tea-smoked duck—a bird that’s marinated and smoked with tea leaves—with the tender texture, crispy skin, and elaborate presentation of his popular Peking duck from Q. Only available in limited quantities with 48 hours notice, the birds will be presented as part of a meal with accompaniments like duck spring rolls, duck wonton soup, and duck pie.
Rounding out the menu are noodles, rice dishes such as lobster with Chinese sausage and chimichurri, and seasonal vegetables like mala dry fry squashes with cilantro. For dessert: Ong’s whimsical creations, such as passionfruit-lime tarts with black pepper meringue, or chocolate pie with coffee, caramel, and sesame.
The dining room will also open for weekday lunch, which centers around bento-style boxes filled with seasonal sides and a diner’s choice of entree. Weekend brunch will bring dim sum dishes and East-meets-West plays on breakfast items such as fried chicken congee or char siu barbecue-stuffed croissants.
“It’s really exciting to see my dad working with young chefs. We’re constantly tasting and thinking how to add the Peter Chang element to dishes,” says Lydia. The elder Chang, now 59, was born in Hubei and started his career in the United States over two decades ago cooking for dignitaries at the Chinese Embassy before gathering a cult-like following at his restaurants. Lydia describes this latest venture as sharing a torch between younger generations and old. “They’re feeding off each other’s energy.”
Chang Chang. 1200 19th St., NW. Chang-Out, 11 AM to 9 PM daily. Chang-In opens for weekday lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch October 20.