The Wharf’s Glitzy New Chinese Restaurant Wants to Be a Magnet for Political VIPs

Philippe Chow is known for its celebrity clientele and tableside Peking duck in New York.

Peking duck, carved tableside, is a specialty at glitzy Philippe Chow. Photograph courtesy of Philippe Chow.

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Philippe Chow. 635 Wharf St., SW.

It may not attract Rihanna, Jay-Z, and Mariah Carey. But the new DC outpost of Philippe Chow, a Chinese restaurant known for celebrity spotting, aims to hew as closely as possible to its flagship Manhattan location. And its owners are looking to woo a new high-powered clientele.

“In DC, we consider the political crowd the celebrities,” says owner Abraham Merchant. “The political crowd is what we are looking for and that’s what we’re hoping to attract.”

Philippe Chow’s original Manhattan location sits on 60th Street between Madison and Park Avenues, two blocks from the Plaza Hotel. Its fancy address, private rooms, and $2,600 bottles of Bordeaux have always been as much of the draw as the salt-and-pepper lobster. The restaurant—opened in 2005—frequently makes it onto Page Six with celebrity sightings.

The glamorous, high-ceilinged space at the Wharf—opening Thursday, June 15—has seating for 350, an outdoor patio with fireplaces and umbrellas, and two private dining rooms with custom 12-foot chandeliers and blackout curtains.

Philippe Chow’s Wharf dining room seats 350. Photograph by Nicolas Castro.

Of course, there will also be food. Chef Philippe Chow, who trained in Hong Kong with cooks from all over mainland China, prepares a crowd-pleasing version of Beijing-style cuisine with a few fusion touches. Favorites include glazed spare ribs, chicken satay, and Peking duck carved tableside. His DC menu will be identical to the original in New York. Merchant says the restaurant is aiming for consistency and to recreate the same flavors and ambiance as on the Upper East Side.

Cocktails, created specially for the DC location by the group’s beverage director Amir Babayoff, include the Bootstrap, a vodka and coconut concoction with espresso and banana, and the White Jacket, which involves green chili-infused vodka and sesame-chili oil. The restaurant will open with dinner seven nights a week and expand to weekend brunch in the next few months.

The Wharf location is part of a Philippe Chow’s larger expansion plans, which will also include Miami and Nashville.

Ike Allen
Assistant Editor