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PF Chang's opinions?

jsmitty Mar 3, 2007 06:58 AM

[This thread was split from a thread on the Home Cooking Board, which you can find at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/376915 --The Chowhound Team


is pf changs any good? i know there are a thousand of them at many malls....

  1. g
    gw17 Sep 24, 2007 07:10 AM

    My son's B'day was yesterday and he decided on PFChang's in Edina, MN.
    I had read so many complaints that I wasn't looking forward to a good experience. I was wrong.
    If a place is that busy,,,how could it be as bad as others are saying?
    We did pick a slow time (Sun afternoon) and made reservations.
    First impresison: I found it clean with a friendly staff and menu had good selections.
    We (6 of us) all sampled each others meals and I found all of the food well prepared, hot and of good quality.
    I went away feeling full and satisfied, with the meal and the price. If the price is high, it is only by a matter of a few dollars.
    I don't like to judge on one visit, but I would certainly go back.

    1 Reply
    1. re: gw17
      swsidejim Sep 24, 2007 07:17 AM

      Just because a place is busy does not mean it is good. One only has to drive past an Olive Garden, or Red Lobster on a Friday, or Saturday night. Just because they have lines out the door does that meant they are good?

      Different strokes I guess.

      I am glad however you enjoyed your son's b-day, & the restaurant of choice did not effect the day.

    2. k
      Kaisgraham Mar 16, 2007 09:11 AM

      We love PF Chang but not to satisfy a craving for REAL Chinese food. Beware of the salt in most off their dishes. I love the duck on their steamed buns.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Kaisgraham
        HollyDolly Mar 21, 2007 09:41 AM

        I ate there once a few years ago.I liked the steamed buns we had,but wasn't that impressed.Liked the local Chinese place my sister and her boyfriend took me to in Piermont,Ny,Khan's better.
        P.F.Chang's is in the Alamo Quarry Marketplace here in San Antonio.And of course it was packed.Didn't see any orientals eating there.
        And the comment about rubes and chopsticks is so true.
        I have seen chinese and other asians at some of our local places,and tend to eat there instead.Having lived on Okinawa back in the sixties cause my dad was stationed there,we were exposed to chinese and japanese at an early age,so I do have some idea of how it should taste.

      2. r
        rjw_lgb_ca Mar 16, 2007 09:02 AM

        It fills an obviously thriving niche in the US: Vaguely Asian-esque cuisine in a Moderne-décor room with a FULL BAR, somewhere near busy shopping areas and a few office buildings. Sure, the food itself is a bit oversalted and overall not thrilling (and, as you know if you've ever had any of their "curries", they achieve "abominations" with a few menu items), but it's fuel to consume with the high-margin FULL BAR. The chopsticks make it just exotic enough for the rubes from the sticks who have decided to graduate from the urbane sophistication of their local Cracker Barrel. And when the place is packed with tired shoppers, Happy Hour crews and commuters sitting out Rush Hour with a quick dinner, the cash cow that is the FULL BAR blooms like a desert rose.

        Didn't we determine that PF Chang is a product of that hotbed of Asian culture in the US, Scottsdale AZ? That pretty much explains everything about it, doesn't it?

        1. f
          fara Mar 16, 2007 02:47 AM

          there are no pf chang's in NYC, I'm curious if there is one in San Francisco or Vancouver?

          7 Replies
          1. re: fara
            Sacto_Damkier Mar 16, 2007 08:48 AM

            PFC has traditionally been a suburban chain, but they have recently been moving into more urban areas. There are PFC in downtown Sacramento, CA and Tempe, AZ - not quite as urban as NYC or SF. I would expect to see some opening in NYC/SF in the future to cater to the tourism, upscale business lunch, and trendy date scene. Vancouver is in Canada which makes it more difficult to operate (i.e. foreign business ownership).

            The fact that NYC/SF/Vancouver have high-quality 1st generation Chinese food will not prevent a PFC from opening. Their main clientele would never set foot in those places.

            1. re: fara
              hch_nguyen Mar 16, 2007 09:05 AM

              Having lived in Manhattan, I personally don't think there will ever be any PFC in NYC. NYC (Manhattan specifically) is not really chain friendly I don't think, unless it's fast food or something. There may be some exceptions, but in general I doubt PFC will look to NYC for profitability. They'd have to charge more to profit and the food really isn't all that. I do like PFC at times, but it's just not all that especially with the plethora of food options around there.

              1. re: hch_nguyen
                Striver Mar 21, 2007 08:34 AM

                Manhattan is not immune. The Times Square area already has Applebee's, Olive Garden, Chevy's, Red Lobster, etc. I wouldn't be surprised by a PFC's there, except that Ruby Foo's already covers the demand for overpriced, over-sweetened, mediocre Chinese food served in a perennially crowded and noisy space.

                1. re: Striver
                  hch_nguyen Mar 21, 2007 07:51 PM

                  Interesting. It's been years since I've been back to the City. I guess it makes sense in the biggest tourist area in Manhattan.

              2. re: fara
                BJK Mar 16, 2007 10:45 AM

                The last time I set foot in a PFC was in Weehawken, NJ. Be careful, they're on your doorstep.


                1. re: BJK
                  Barbarella Mar 21, 2007 07:47 AM

                  There is NO PFC in Weehawken, NJ

                  1. re: Barbarella
                    BJK Mar 21, 2007 08:03 AM

                    I stand corrected. It's "West New York, NJ," just north of Weehawken (my business meeting was in Weekawken).



              3. s
                slacker Mar 12, 2007 05:58 PM

                I do like their chicken lettuce wraps, so I might go for those. Otherwise, it's overpriced fake Chinese food. Yes, it is overpriced, for what you get. If you live in a city where you can get the real deal, why go for fake.

                1. l
                  lisaf Mar 9, 2007 01:11 PM

                  If you like Americanized Chinese food then yes. If you have had good authentic Chinese and like it, then big fat no. It's tolerable, but I would never go there volutarily.

                  1. b
                    BJK Mar 9, 2007 09:27 AM

                    P.F. Chang's is fine if you aren't adventurous enough (or close enough) to eat in Chinatown, and if you have no better options for Americanized Chinese. Frankly, I both eat in Chinatown and have better Americanized Chinese options here in the Boston area. But, I've had fine, if uninspiring, meals there when traveling with coworkers who were relatively unadventurous eaters.


                    1. marmite Mar 9, 2007 08:47 AM

                      I went to PFC last night for a friend's birthday dinner. We had a reservation for 7:30 for 6 people, and didn't get seated until 8. When we asked about the wait, we were told 'it all depends how many parties of 6 come in.' I pointed out that was the reason for the reservation, and the 3 hostess-type folks behind the desk just stared at me.
                      I tried the tofu lettuce wraps for the first time and overall they were nice, but too salty. For my main course I had steamed vegetables, which were soggy. And it was so loud in there we couldn't hear each other without yelling.
                      I do not understand the appeal of this place at all.

                      1. n
                        nyfoodjoe Mar 8, 2007 11:34 AM

                        Panda Express is a big upgrade over PF Changs....the food has become almost unedible over the last few years as the chain has expanded and watered down. Go to your local Chinese restaurant and support them, rather some conglomerate that gives a crap less

                        1. Barbarella Mar 8, 2007 11:30 AM

                          P.F. Changs is wonderful. I have eaten in about six of them and liked all I ordered. My favorite are the lettuce wraps and oolong sea bass.

                          1. m
                            mlgb Mar 7, 2007 02:08 PM

                            It's really nothing special. I found the food really bland, the only dish I remember sort of liking were the lettuce wraps. I think some of the mall court Chinese I've had was better.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: mlgb
                              mlgb Mar 9, 2007 09:02 AM

                              Oh my bad! I've just remembered that the lettuce wraps that I sort of liked were at Yardhouse at the River in Rancho Mirage, next door to PJ Changs. I actually didn't like anything at PJ Changs. Just goes to show how generic the food is, you can get lettuce wraps at Yardhouse (and BJ's Pizza too).

                              1. re: mlgb
                                Oh Robin Mar 9, 2007 09:27 AM

                                Yard House Lettuce Wraps are yummy.

                            2. j
                              jimctgc Mar 7, 2007 02:04 PM

                              There's no need to get either snobby on the one side or defensive on the other. This is easy to figure out. (Apologies to Jeff Foxworthy)

                              If your typical evening meal involves more than one course from the microwave, you’ll probably like P.F. Chang’s.

                              If your idea of dinner theater means watching the crowds at the shopping mall food court, you’ll probably like P.F. Chang’s.

                              If you think Taco Bell serves ethnic food, you’ll probably like P.F. Chang’s.

                              If you buy more than one of those fundraising coupon books because you used the last one up before the year was over, you’ll probably like P.F. Chang’s.

                              AND –

                              If you refuse to even heat water in a microwave, you probably won’t like P.F. Chang’s.

                              If the idea of eating dinner at a theater makes you wince, you probably won’t like P.F. Chang’s.

                              If you’ve ever discussed the differences between regional Indian cuisines, you probably won’t like P.F. Chang’s.

                              If the idea of eating at a restaurant that takes coupons makes you shudder, you probably won’t like P.F. Chang’s.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: jimctgc
                                Oh Robin Mar 7, 2007 02:08 PM


                              2. sandrina Mar 7, 2007 10:30 AM

                                I agree with batdown that the food is too salty. I've found that after eating there with family, I've had an insatiable thirst. Most of the food I've seen and the plates I've ordered have come in that horrid organgey overly sweet sauce. For the type of food (glorified take out), I find it expensive and not worth the money. The only item that I've enjoyed is their indulgent Great Wall of Chocolate cake with raspberry sauce. It's a a great value for the size because it can feed 4. It tastes good too. That's my humble opinion.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: sandrina
                                  spyturtle008 Mar 21, 2007 08:27 AM

                                  They also use way, way too much sesame oil on everything I've ever eaten there, which is what turns me off. It's always so jam-packed that the last few times I've been (my SO likes it, and every once in a blue moon I acquiesce) the service has been downright violent (dishes tossed on the table, water sloshing everywhere, etc.). I can also do without the Chang sauce performance (anyone seen the South Park episode where Towelie is a waiter there?). I appreciate the fact that they have two different kinds of tofu you can pick from (how many chain restaurants offer that?), but the overwhelming salty/oily combo that pervades everything on the menu makes me feel sick every time I eat there.

                                  Re: the accusations of snobbery, I can see how posts saying "it's a chain, therefore it's worthless" aren't really all that helpful, but in the case of this particular restaurant, I'm in agreement. For the most part, it's everything bad about chains -- monotonous flavors, unreasonably crowded / busy, inexperienced servers, etc. It's yuppified Chinese, and even taken as a separate kind of cuisine from the more authentic variety, it's still mostly unpalatable.

                                2. k
                                  Kari Mar 7, 2007 10:27 AM

                                  We have 4 Chinese places in a 2 mile radius, so why go to PF Changs? If you have to go, go and enjoy the company you are with. The food is decent, and not awful. We have been when it first came to what we call restaurant row. I enjoyed it, but I don't want to wait 1 to 2 hours when i can get Chinese in less than 30 min.

                                  1. b
                                    batdown Mar 7, 2007 06:22 AM

                                    the food there is way too salty

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: batdown
                                      Sacto_Damkier Mar 7, 2007 10:22 AM

                                      I see this comment a lot about PFC. What does this mean specifically? I find that most restaurants add a lot of salt/MSG/other to their dishes. Salt is a very important part of food to enhance the flavors, but I have never found PFC to be overly salty. I would say that "too salty" would mean I need to drink water after each bite or when the salt overwhelms the overall tastes in the food. My food at PFC has never fit these descriptions.

                                      1. re: Sacto_Damkier
                                        batdown Mar 7, 2007 11:16 AM

                                        I had a shrimp dish when i was there, and they were gritty with salt. The salt was all I could really taste. It reminded me of the christmas my mom made a roast with a garlic crust around it. She put WAY too much salt; it was like eating salt beef. But yeah, I'm well aware that salt is a common mineral used to season food here in the United States, but thanks for the free culinary lesson.

                                        1. re: batdown
                                          Sacto_Damkier Mar 7, 2007 01:40 PM

                                          Just to continue the unnecessary snide remarks, are you sure you weren't eating the Salt & Pepper Prawns?

                                          1. re: Sacto_Damkier
                                            batdown Mar 7, 2007 03:14 PM

                                            I cant remember what it was exactly. do you work for pf changs?

                                            1. re: batdown
                                              Sacto_Damkier Mar 8, 2007 08:21 AM


                                        2. re: Sacto_Damkier
                                          hch_nguyen Mar 8, 2007 11:25 AM

                                          For what it is, I think PF Chang's does a decent job. It's not authentic, but that doesn't mean it's bad necessarily. I'm basing this assessment on taste alone and leaving all other judgments aside. I do have to comment that the last 2 times I've eaten their beef with broccoli it has been way too salty, saltier than I normally have had it there. The first time it happened I thought it was a one-off thing, but the 2nd time it happened, too, and at a different location. Every bite was overwhelmed with a salty taste. Previous to the last two times, it had never happened before.

                                      2. b
                                        bachslunch Mar 6, 2007 02:16 PM

                                        If the one in Boston is typical, it's not bad for what it is: heavily Americanized suburban-style Chinese food. There's worse out there, but it's not the real thing by a long shot. In places with no other such options, food court quality Chinese, or uninspired local places, it's certainly preferable.

                                        Given that the P.F. Chang's in Boston is only about two blocks from Chinatown, it's pretty low on my local list. And in a city like New York or San Francisco, I'd see no reason to go there, given all the authentic local options.

                                        1. o
                                          Oh Robin Mar 6, 2007 02:01 PM

                                          It's good! Don't trust the snobby haters! Get the lemon pepper shrimp and swoon!

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Oh Robin
                                            swsidejim Mar 7, 2007 04:29 AM

                                            It has nothing to do with being a "snobby hater", if you live in Chicago, or one of the other cities with a large asian population it is ridiculous to waste a meal at PF Changs.

                                            Some of my favorite Chinese restaurants in the Chicago area are hole in the wall spots with a handfull of tables, but the food is top notch, and the folks doing the cooking are actually chinese....

                                            1. re: swsidejim
                                              Oh Robin Mar 7, 2007 01:47 PM

                                              I love hole in the walls too. I would never call PFC traditional Chinese food either. But serving their version of asian to the masses is done very well there, and I've had good meals there. I think many hounders want to hate chains so bad that they don't give it a chance. Very sad to go through life that way...

                                              1. re: swsidejim
                                                monkuboy Mar 8, 2007 11:33 AM

                                                Agreed, PFC is not real "authenitic" but I've had my share of pretty lousy meals at supposedly "authentic" Chinese restaurants here in the San Gabriel Valley. I think that if you are seeking truly authentic Chinese food then yes, go somewhere besides PFC but if you want something that tastes pretty good for what it is, then I think they do a decent job.

                                            2. p
                                              pinkie914 Mar 6, 2007 12:11 PM

                                              I love Changs!! And besides the food they have the best key lime martinis around.

                                              1. NiKoLe1625 Mar 6, 2007 12:05 PM

                                                I have honeslty never had a bad meal at PF Changs! My favorite things are the chicken lettuce wraps, mushu chicken, steamed veggie dumplings, and the peking duck with the wheat buns. Obviously its not the best chinese food out there, but its not terrible either!

                                                1. ipsedixit Mar 6, 2007 10:21 AM

                                                  I think PF Chang's is pitiful.

                                                  It's sort of like overpriced Panda Express served on nice silverware.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                                    marmite Mar 6, 2007 12:05 PM

                                                    Agreed. I have friends who love it and so we go there for all their birthdays etc, but I only order the green bean appetizer now because I can't stand all their other food.

                                                  2. s
                                                    Sacto_Damkier Mar 6, 2007 10:17 AM

                                                    First off, PF Chang's is not an authentic Chinese restaurant like you would find in Hong Kong, San Francisco, or in other Chinatowns - and it frankly does not attempt to be. However, PF Chang's serves above average food in an environment much cleaner and nicer than an "authentic" place. I have never been disappointed in the American Chinese food served there and love the lettuce wraps, extensive wine list, Chang's Chicken, brown & white rice, excellent tea, and the desserts.

                                                    1. s
                                                      swsidejim Mar 3, 2007 07:28 AM


                                                      a terrible chain restaurant attempt at chinese food.

                                                      If you have a decent family run chinese restaurant in your area go there instead. Luckily I have only had the misfortune of eating @ PF Changs one time for a work function. Also luckily in the Chicago area we have dozens of great chinese restaurants to choose from.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: swsidejim
                                                        yorkville Mar 3, 2007 07:32 AM

                                                        As a native chinese, I have to say PF Chang serves surprisingly good food. It also provides consistency and good service.

                                                        1. re: yorkville
                                                          swsidejim Mar 3, 2007 07:38 AM

                                                          thats great to hear, enjoy.

                                                        2. re: swsidejim
                                                          cecilia Mar 3, 2007 10:29 AM

                                                          I grew up in Hong Kong and I now live in Toronto where good authentic Chinese food is everywhere. And I liked PF Chang's when I used to travel to the US for work. I never saw it as a real Chinese restaurant. It is a chain and the food is pretty good for a chain.

                                                          The lettuce wrap, crab wonton, and Mongolian beef were excellent.

                                                          1. re: swsidejim
                                                            OCAnn Mar 12, 2007 09:20 AM

                                                            I agree. I don't like PFC; they're a bit heavy handed w/their sauces. I don't think they're attempting Chinese food; I'd call it Way-Too-Americanized Chinese food.

                                                            1. re: OCAnn
                                                              swsidejim Mar 12, 2007 09:25 AM

                                                              I obviously dont like it either, but I could see it filling a chinese craving in the following instance:

                                                              Perhaps if one lives in an area that has poor examples of chinese restaurants, PFC may work if a person has a craving for chinese. I found the food @ PFC to be on the same level as Panda Express at the mall.

                                                              Like I mentioned I have many good chinese spots in the Chicago area, many I have tried, and a few on the list to try. My main thing is if I want chinese food I want the cooks in the kitchen to be chinese, the food to be good, and a small family owned spot makes it even better.

                                                          2. CindyJ Mar 3, 2007 07:24 AM

                                                            The PF Chang's I've been to are stand-alone restaurants, not at malls, and the food is very good, especially for a chain restaurant.

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