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Aug 5, 2006 09:03 PM

PF Chang's --what's it like?

Is it very good for Americanized Chinese?

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  1. Yes, probably the best all rounder Americanized Chinese in the country.

    Good quality ingredients, well prepared, with a decent wine list and gigantic desserts. Can't ask for more.


    14 Replies
    1. re: TexasToast

      So if I ever had to go there, what would you suggest are the best things to order ... what to skip?

      1. re: rworange

        I've always liked the lettuce wraps and I'm a huge fan of the Dan-Dan noodles, although the noodles are usually overcooked. I've only been a handful of times since there isn't a Chang's near my house (although one is opening up nearby soon).

        1. re: rworange

          I was just at PF Chang's in Atlantic City. It is the best Chinese food I have ever eaten. We had Mongolian Beef and scallops with snow peas.I have also had PF Chang's in Ca and had lemon chicken which was good and a delicious Chinese chicken salad also the mongolian beef again.I live an hr away and it is worth just going for lunch or dinner.We were there for two night's. I also went on there web site. Keyword PF Chang's and they gave two of their recipes.I just found this and do not know how often they change the recipes. Enjoy!

          1. re: Rodijose

            There must be something wrong with me. I've eaten at two of these places and found it the blandest, least-authentic and just generally worst-prepared Chinese food I've ever had. Even the greasy neighborhood takeout place was better than this. To top it off, the insulting servers asked my (obviously asian - and the only asians visible in the restaurant, but I guess that's common) family if we knew how to use chopsticks, and then dumped soy sauce all over our already over-saturated food to illustrate the "correct" way to eat rice. I was livid, but I guess I deserve it.

            They had a bunch of Americanized dishes that were far more Los Angeles than China, and were missing so many of the staples of traditional Cantonese, Hakka and Mandarin food that I was amazed that they could even pretend to call it Chinese or even Chinese-inspired.

            No insult intended, but if anyone thinks this is the best Chinese food they've ever tried, they have either never had real Chinese food or must have some kind of numbed palate.

            The over-MSG'd stuff served in a mall food court was/is more Chinese than the food here, although probably of about the same quality (at 1/4 the price).

            1. re: hewn

              Hey hey HEY!!! PF Chang started in Scottsdale, AZ, first of all. And the greater LA area is well-known for having some of the very best Chinese food in the US. Don't blame the un-Chinese menu items at PF Chang on LA tastes.

              1. re: rjw_lgb_ca

                Yes, as a Phoenix resident, I can confirm that the PF Chang disease originated here in Arizona. Amazingly, for the first few years of operation, PF Chang's did not take reservations. People would line up for hours, waiting for an opportunity to eat a week's worth of sodium in one meal! I enjoy a far better meal without a wait at my above-average neighorhood Chinese restaurant.

              2. re: hewn

                I wouldn't call it the worst ever, but it's certainly nothing to get excited about if you like real Chinese food. I think its appeal is to the crowds is that it makes unfamiliar food seem accessable.

              3. re: Rodijose

                I couldn't agree more Rodijose. Some of the best ingredients, well prepared and cooked to perfection.

                1. re: Rodijose

                  I would imagine if I too were Asian I would probably think the
                  same as you. I would love a homemade prepared Chinese dish. I am sure your ancestor's would agree with you that the food is not
                  authentic.What do I know. I just know the food we had tasted great.I am 1/2 Italian and have found but one very good
                  Italian restaurant close by.My dad who is all Italian agrees and
                  he is a great cook. We did not find PF Chang's bland at all. We had the nicest server too.

                  1. re: Rodijose

                    I'm not asian; my family is. And since I eat out at ethnic restaurants regularly and not hadn't before had asian food watered down or mediocritized for white tastes, I guess I was just very disappointed.

                    People may enjoy it, but they need to realize that it is not by any stretch of the imagination Chinese food; it's white people food, made to look like Chinese food, and given a fake, vaguely Asian-sounding name.

                    1. re: hewn

                      Bringing this back to the OP, even though PFC is not "authentic" Chinese food, it is a pretty good version of Americanized Chinese. This reminds me of film critics who like a trashy movie simply because it is an excellent example of a trashy movie. Some people may avoid PFC like the plague since it is not "authentic", but few places actually serve true ethnic food. The test is to define the true cusine of a restaurant, then determine whether it is the best (or worst) interpretation of the cuisine.

                      1. re: Sacto_Damkier

                        But Americanized Chinese is a pale and warped imitation of regional Chinese cuisines, and is never, ever as good as the real thing.

                    2. re: Rodijose

                      I'm with hewn. I've been dragged to PF Changs branches since this chain infected southern California, and the inauthenticity wouldn't be so galling if the food were better. But for the most part, the flavor combinations are really clumsily executed. A Malaysian curry dish didn't have any heat, just a cloying off-tasting sweetness that ruined the flavor of every other dish on the table.

                      Sometimes you forego the Good Stuff for the Convenient Stuff-- and I can't really knock that. But PF Chang "Asian" food is FAR from good. You can get much better, real Asian food-- including some knock-out fusion dishes-- just about everywhere in California, and most other major urban centers now.

                      1. re: rjw_lgb_ca

                        It can be very easy to be spoiled by the vast availability of excellent ethnic cuisine here in California (i.e. Vietnamese, Cantonese, Thai), but for the vast majority of the United States, Chinese food is Sweet & Sour Pork and Egg Rolls. In suburban America (outside of California), authentic Chinese food is either very far away or nonexistant. In those places, PFC is usually the best Chinese restaurant around. Most of the time, meal decisions are not based on finding the best restaurant, but choosing between several restaurants at 5:30 PM on a Friday night. Fortunately, this board can direct those souls to the best options at PFC - or better, educate them on their local board about better regional options.

              4. I can only say what I've liked and not liked. Chang's Spicy Chicken, Crispy Honey-Shrimp, Chicken in Black Bean Sauce and the Salt n Pepper Calamari come immediately to mind. The lettuce wraps are good, but the tofu ones have better flavour. Less sucessful are the shrimp in lobster sauce, and the wrapped steamed fish dish I once had. A criticism of P.F. Chang's is that they over-salt their dishes, and to some extent, that's true. But, it's still good.


                1 Reply
                1. re: TexasToast

                  I enjoy PF Changs from time to time (love the Singapore Street Noodles)...and your assertion about the salt is right on...if you go to their website, you can find out nutritional information about most dishes EXCEPT for the sodium amount, noticeably absent in the nutritional breakdown.

                2. I went there for the first time Friday. I second the black bean chicken, and also liked the vegetarian lettuce cups and the mongolian beef. Yes, everything is a bit salty, but you can mitigate that with rice.

                  1. Yes, very americanized, but it is a good compromise for people who are adventurous regarding chinese food and their less adventurous friends. I was skeptical when I went but I felt what it lacked in authenticity made up for in fresh ingredients and ample portions. I had the mango chicken and was surprisingly happy with it. Both of my dining companions really liked the option of ordering brown rice.

                    1. It's ok. Whenever I go to Chinese restaurants I usually get the mongolian beef. The beef at Chang's is amazingly salty, and the meat is always a little crispy - as if burnt. It's edible, however, if you add chili oil to it. The lettuce wraps are ok. There is a barely seared tuna appetizer that is very good, if you like almost completely raw fish. The one I had was very fresh and sweet, with a nice sauce that tasted faintly of peanut.

                      I have not had any of their desserts, but I have heard that they are fairly good, as is their wine list. If beer is more your thing, you might be slightly disappointed.

                      One thing that did not impress me: when you first sit down, the server comes over and concocts some sort of "special sauce" based on your preferences from a variety of pre-fab ingredients. This is invariably vile.

                      However, I would go again (I have been two times) and as the poster before me said, it is a good place to bring friends who are perhaps not as adventurous as you. Seeing my boss take a bite of the aforementioned tuna was hilarious.