In July, the owners of the Charlie Chiang's restaurant empire took stock of what was happening near their Shirlington outpost (4060 Campbell Ave.; 703-671-4900) -- the Signature Theatre and a new library had moved in -- and decided that their Chinese restaurant, one of six they own in the Washington area, could use some tweaking.
Seven months and $1.6 million later, the family behind the business is getting ready to show off the result, which includes a top-to-bottom, front-to-back renovation and an expanded name: Charlie Chiang's Ping. "In Chinese, 'ping' refers to the highest standard," says co-owner Jean Chiang. "If someone has ping, he has good taste."
When the rethought restaurant is unveiled later this month, diners will find floor-to-ceiling glass windows, warmer hues and a 20-seat bar. Only a third of the original menu will remain; Asian-fusion flavors will dominate. Among the new dishes created by family matriarch Christiana Chiang and corporate chef Chun Mui Kwok are braised pork shoulder with red wine and a king crab salad with endive and Asian dressing. There will be sushi as well, rolled out by a four-year veteran of the esteemed Sushi-Ko in Washington, Lawrence Chung.
Charlie and Christiana Chiang opened their first dining room, New China Restaurant, in Alexandria in 1974. Their newest restaurant, Charlie Chiang's, is more than 1,000 miles to the south, in Naples, Fla.
Opened in 2005, the Florida restaurant is supposedly a way for the founding father to keep one hand in the business and the other on a golf club in semi-retirement, though Charlie Chiang has yet to move from Washington, says his restaurateur-daughter Jean.
-- Tom Sietsema