Northern Virginia Magazine

Northern Virginia Magazine

Peter Chang: Stay. You: Go.

Go quickly to Peter Chang China Cafe. The chef—famed as much for his gorgeous food as for fleeing restaurants across the South—opened his eponymous Chinese restaurant in a strip mall north of downtown Fredericksburg in May.

The flavors have stayed put in the few months I have eaten at Chang’s restaurants, first at China Grill outside of Richmond in Glen Allen and then in Fredericksburg. I am late to the Chang game. I am a convert.

On the way to Fredericksburg—the three hours it took to slog down 95 from Alexandria one Saturday—I conned my friend into driving. I told her I’d entertain. Road trips usually require snacks, but when you’re driving to eat, other sustenance is necessary. I read her stories of Chang. Both The New Yorker and Oxford American ran articles devoted to the fandom of Chang in the March 2010 issues. I printed both out, including another from Garden & Gun’s first issue of 2013.

“I feel like we’re going to eat Jesus’ food,” my friend said after I read aloud the devotion, the hysteria, the obsession that is the cult of Chef Peter Chang.

Chang first started cooking in this country at the Chinese Embassy. And from there, he’s remained in the United States. He’s cooked in Fairfax (China Star), Alexandria (TemptAsia Cafe), again in Fairfax (Szechuan Boy), then Marietta, Ga. (Tasty China), Knoxville, Tenn.(Hong Kong House) and back to Virginia—first in Charlottesville (Peter Chang China Grill), Richmond (Peter Chang China Grill), Williamsburg (Peter Chang China Cafe) and now Fredericksburg (Peter Chang China Cafe), with all four Virginia locations currently open, serving mostly the same menu. General Lee, owner of the Chang restaurants, and “Peter’s babysitter,” will open a location in Virginia Beach by late November and is looking for space in Alexandria and Fairfax.

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