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Peter Chang Restaurant ‘Authentic Chinese food’ on offer

September 28, 2018

Four years ago, one of the country’s top Chinese-food chefs received a call from a fan in southwestern Connecticut. Today, the duo are not just friends, but business partners who have launched a new restaurant in downtown Stamford.

Opened earlier this month, Peter Chang Restaurant marks the latest addition to the Stamford Town Center mall’s restaurant row at 230 Tresser Blvd. Its award-winning owner says the new establishment offers a different type of Chinese cuisine that will appeal to the growing number of professionals living and working in the city.

“I wanted to bring authentic Chinese food to more people,” Chang said in an interview this week at the restaurant. “This is a great passion of mine.”

A native of Hubei Province in central China, Chang came to the U.S. in 2001, when he moved to Washington, D.C., for a two-year assignment as a chef at the Chinese embassy.

After his stint at the embassy ended, Chang worked at a number of Chinese restaurants in cities including Atlanta and Knoxville, Tenn.

His first restaurant debuted in 2011 in Charlottesville, Va., where the University of Virginia’s main campus is located. He now owns 11 restaurants in Virginia and Maryland.

Chang’s culinary exploits have also earned him accolades — including two James Beard Award finalist nods — and a growing number of fans.

His admirers include Bill Xia, a New Canaan resident who runs a diamond-tools company.

After learning about Chang on social media, Xia called the chef in 2014, and they soon became friends.

Based on Xia’s Fairfield County’s connections, Chang picked Stamford as the site of his first restaurant in the Northeast. The establishment fills a space previously occupied by a California Pizza Kitchen.

“We wanted to have a nice restaurant in this community,” said Xia, managing partner of the new restaurant. “This is Peter’s dream —to bring nice and healthy Chinese food to anywhere he goes.”

Chang specializes in cuisine from Szechwan (Sichuan) Province in south-central China, as well as fare from Hubei Province.

His restaurants serve dishes including Peking duck, chicken-broth soup dumplings, flounder, beef tendon in beancurd skin, prawns with vermicelli noodles and braised pork belly. Americanized combos such as chicken and broccoli are not served.

Chang’s restaurant also eschew using frozen food. Chang said the large kitchen at Stamford Center gives the staff the space they need to cook fresh dishes.

About 20 work at the restaurant, with more set to be hired soon.

The approximately 175-seat restaurant is managed by Janet Chiang, who owned another Chinese restaurant, Hunan Gourmet in Greenwich, for 25 years.

“I’ve seen a lot of my old customers from Greenwich here,” Chiang said. “They’re so happy to see us open.”

Chang’s team also includes his wife, Lisa, who is a pastry chef.

If the new restaurant succeeds, Chang and Xia said it could serve as a jumping off point for opening other restaurants in the tri-state area.

pschott@scni.com; 203-964-2236; Twitter: @paulschott

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