Bethesda Magazine’s Favorite New Restaurants
More than 70 restaurants have opened in the Bethesda area in the last two years. Food critic David Hagedorn chooses his 10 favorites.
2. Q by Peter Chang
An assortment of dim sum dishes, available at brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Photo by Deb Lindsey
When chef Peter Chang opened Q by Peter Chang in a Bethesda office building in May 2017, expectations were high. His cooking was legendary, part of a mystique that started when he left his post as chef of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., in 2003, essentially defecting. On the run and without papers, Chang embarked on a string of restaurant jobs he’d leave once word got out that he was there. Finally dealing with his legal status and acquiring a business partner, Chang, who lives in Bethesda, now owns six restaurants in Virginia and two in Maryland. Q, short for qi jian, meaning flagship, was to be his crowning achievement, a swanky place where he wouldn’t tone down the trademark heat of his regional Chinese dishes to suit American tastes, as he does at other restaurants.
Reviews have been mixed. Some diners object to the higher prices for the fancier digs and upgraded service, and are unable to discern the difference between Q and other Chang establishments. I agree it has been a bumpy road, but I am a Q fan. I appreciate the sweeping 5,000-square-foot dining room with its high ceilings, jade-colored walls and full bar service. But I return for Chang’s food—the braised red snapper with chili bean paste, minced beef, bamboo shoots and pickled cabbage; the kung pao chicken (a usually hackneyed dish that is heavenly at Q); and the Peking duck with rose-scented black garlic purée.
The sleeper at Q, though, is the superlative dim sum brunch served on Saturday and Sunday, with many of the offerings made under the direction of Chang’s wife, Lisa, also an accomplished chef. A dumpling extravaganza is de rigueur here; my standing order includes rich chicken broth soup dumplings, pan-fried shrimp dumplings, wagyu beef dumplings and spicy pork-filled wontons. Then I move on to shrimp balls, BBQ pork buns and stir-fried rice noodles with beef. Can’t make up your mind? Get the dim sum assortment, which comes with seven items and two sauces.
4500 East West Highway, Bethesda | 240-800-3722 | qbypeterchang.com