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P.F. Changs

I just went for lunch today to the new one that just opened yesterday in Freehold, NJ. This was my first ever to this chain, and I must say WOW! Great chain!! I tend to never like Chinese food because here in NJ, it is so salty, all that damn brown sugar sauce on everything!! P.F.'s was such a difference! Fresh lettuce wraps with delcious chicken, wide noodles in a fresh cucumber mix...very tasty! An amazing lamb dish with cumin and mint, calamari nicely prepared, not over fried. The group of us ordered so many different things, that I don't think there was anything I did not like!!

Does anyone else have a favorite dish here?? ALl the dishes coming out of the kitchen looked great!!

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  1. My wife and I ate at the one in Lexington KY on Thursday night - it too was very very good. She had the chicken chow mein and I had the kung pao shrimp. Very tasty!

    1. P.F. Chang is a tasty place. I'm more afraid of the Jersey brown sugar sauce. What the heck is that and where are you eating?

      1 Reply
      1. re: sausagefinger

        Ha! Ha! I HATE that stuff, too!! Gross..it's on almost EVERY Chinese dish here in NJ. You don't get served that where you are? What state are you from? I think people just love that disgusting sauce. I asked one time for no sauce, no sugar...they told me that was impossible!

      2. I've liked the spring rolls, chicken with black bean sauce, orange peel chicken, and an asparagus dish. My husband likes the Mongolian beef, but I found it a bit too chewy.

        1. My girlfriend loves P.F. Chang's, and it has really grown on me too. We always split the salt and pepper calamari, which is perfectly crispy and rather light, considering it is fried. The duck dish is terrific, and I love the grilled lamb that comes on a bed of shredded lettuce (not the spicier lamb dish, which I haven't tried). We actually just tried the ginger-honey grilled lamb chops last time we went, and they were amazing (but small). I'm also partial to the chow fun noodles, which are the broad, flat noodles.

          Also, they just started offering great new desserts that come in shot glasses for $2 each, much like the Florida-based restaurant Seasons 52. These are all traditional desserts, not even trying to be Chinese or Asian-fusion, but you can't go wrong with them.

          1. I find this ironic that you would place these posts on Chowhound. PF Chang's is to Chinese as the Olive Garden is to real Italian. Chang's is a mall version of a Chinese ClaimJumper. I suggest you get out and find the real thing and support your local, family owned Asian restaurant that serves great food prepared with honest, loving care. They may not have a 28 page menu, but then, they don't have a CEO who knows nothing about Chinese food and everything about marketing to the masses.

            9 Replies
            1. re: Glassman

              Come on, isn't that overly harsh and judgmental? We are on the Chains forum, after all! I've never been to a Claim Jumper (we don't have them here in FL), but while the food at Olive Garden is usually mediocre and uninspired, Chang's is a chain that happens to have good food. Guess what? Lots of locally-owned Italian and Chinese restaurants aren't that good, and I'll take an above-average chain (they're out there!) over a below-average local joint any day.

              1. re: Glassman

                Sorry about the little guy in the business, but the Chinese around me here is NJ..the food is old, greasy, and disgusting. How can the little guy compete with this chain?? I don't eat at the Olive Garden EVER, that is not Italian to me. Here in NJ, it is very hard to find authentic Chinese food. The only time I actually enjoy it, is when we go over to our friends, who are Chinese, in Flushing, and eat their food, which is completely different than the crap they serve on their menus. Even our friends laugh at their menus.

                1. re: Angelina

                  Like Angelina, I live in the NYC-area suburbs and find much of the local Chinese food to be greasy. Sometimes a greasy fried dumpling hits the spot, but other times, it doesn't. If "honest, loving care" means giving me questionable chicken with tons of gristle, then we've got it in spades around here. The chicken at P.F. Chang's actually looks like a fresh chicken breast that I'd buy in the supermarket.

                  1. re: shellyesq

                    And as much as I agree with you and like it, I don't think P.F. Chang's food is close to "authentic" Chinese. That said, not everyone is looking for that "authentic" experience all the time, or perhaps ever...

                2. re: Glassman

                  I agree with Lou. This is a CHAINS board. And not being part of a chain does not guarantee good quality of food. I live within walking distance of at least four Chinese restaurants, two take-outs and two eat-ins where you can take out. Two of them are so bad that I just would not buy food there under (virtually) any circumstances and that's a shame, as one of them is directly across the street from the apartment building where I live and I sure could get food delivered more quickly from there than the place I do order from. That said, probably none of these places and definitely P.F. Changs as well, are "authentic," but that's not what I am always looking for, anyway.

                  As to your question, I recently had the shrimp with candied walnuts. Yum.

                  1. re: Glassman

                    What an old and tired comment. I guess that you are assuming that people haven't or just don't know good Chinese food. I'm Asian and eat great homemade Chinese food and support my local Chinese restaurants. I go to P.F. when I'm shopping in the mall downtown and wouldn't trade it for the world. There is nothing wrong with paying respect to places that you enjoy, regardless of authenticity.

                    1. re: Glassman

                      Well, I think everyone should be entitled to their own opinion and if people like PF Changs, then they like it... so what? Is there a hard and fast rule that chain restaurants must be poor quality? Maybe PF Changs is doing something right. Geez, give them a chance and quit being so judgmental of people.

                      1. re: Glassman

                        When someone posts about McDonalds here on the CHAINS board, do you jump in and tell them to patronize their local, family owned burger joint?

                        Not that I'm such a big fan of PF Changs, but if you're ever in Northern Virginia, let me know and I'll point you in the directions of some perfectly horrible family-owned Asian restaurants.


                        1. re: Glassman

                          haha I'm sorry how many p.f changs advertisments have you seen? None they don't advertise it's strickly by word of mouth. And as far as it's founding one of the founds is philip Chaing. And they spend millions of dollars in the care of their food. I've never seen anything like it. So if dirty and lower quality food is better than sure go some where else but their food is very well care for. And part of the training consists of learning about the chinese culture. They also have an open kitchen so if you would like to go check all of this out go for it.

                        2. Before a location opened near me I'd only been to PF Chang's in California when visiting my dad. Now granted it was a few years ago, but I thought the dan dan noodles, the chicken lettuce wraps and a few other dishes were quite tasty, not to mention the iced tea which I absolutely loved.

                          A few weeks ago I went to the "new" location in Princeton, NJ and was so disappointed. My friend and I split the spring rolls since she wasn't interested in the lettuce wraps. They were OK, but nothing special. I got my dan dan noodles and the noodles were so overcooked they stuck together. And the salt...oh the salt...I was gulping water for the next 24 hours. We split a dessert - the Lucky 8 - that was fine, but nothing special. I brought my husband home some of the Peking dumplings and he was appalled by how much I paid for such small dumplings.

                          I hate to say it because I used to really like Chang's but I won't go there again.

                          1. My family loves the tofu lettuce wraps, double pan friend noodles (ask them to go WAY easy on the sauce, though) and crispy honey shrimp. I LOVE their short grain brown rice instead of regular white rice and I ask for it in a small, individual bowl. Their lettuce wrap sauce is delicious on this brown rice, too.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Kaisgraham

                              I second the double pan fried noodle, with lots of chile sauce!

                              I'm not a huge fan of chains, but I have eaten at PF Chang's in like five states and have found their food consistent and tasty every time.

                              1. re: Kaisgraham

                                I love pan fried noodles and ordered this dish yesterday at PF Changs. It was horrible, I wish I had read your post before I went.

                              2. Wow! They certainly hardsell the lettuce wraps: "Hi! I'm ... can I get you anything? Some lettuce wraps?, calamari?, hmm?"

                                My first trip to PF Chang's and I'd already decided not to order lettuce wraps(not in the mood...and the virtual cultlike following they have---just read the CH PF Chang's threads---not to mention I don't have any "dietary" concerns) and you know what? I prefer to peruse the menu appetizers before I'm being dragged through "used car lot" parlance.

                                Anyway, Indiana...The Fashion Mall(urgh...ack) PF Chang's...I figured this is our best chance to get decent Chinese-American foodstuffs and thank gawd it's not a freaking buffet...we went with family for a niece's birthday.

                                "Withered ginger" cocktails were miserly in portion, but well-concocted, the salt and pepper calamari came perfectly tensile...if a bit bland...and "dipping salt" should consist of more than Morton's and a few paltry flecks of black pepper, hot n sour soup arrived a credible rendition(not great, but certainly correct-ish), and, my entree of kung pao(tho' really a hybrid of the aforementioned and the Sichuan "popcorn" chicken dish), suited me fine...the vinegar/sugar ratio was adequate...although it had apparently been sitting for awhile...chicken was lukewarm at best and had lost most of it's hybrid crunch.

                                PF Chang's is just okay(at least this branch). A cram 'em in, shovel 'em out enterprise at it's best; I an see how it appeals to a certain undiscerning demographic(esp. those who love the oh so exotic lettuce wraps...and ...NO Carbs! Barb!)

                                I was expecting a tad more refinement for whatever reason and though it had it's missteps...I wouldn't be averse to returning...if I was stuck at the mall in Indianapolis.

                                1. Any of the P.F. Changs lovers out there see the L.A. Times article that reports that P.F. Changs 3rd quarter profit was down 20% from last year?

                                  1. If you like PF Changs I recommend their offshoot which is a more casual and cheaper counter service resto called Pei Way. It's the sort of place where you go up to the counter and order one of the "flavors" with your choice of meat and sit down and they serve you. The food is pretty good quality with good fresh ingredients. Sure it's not authentic Chinese food but if you're craving that deep fried sweet and sour pork and regular Chinese take out makes you sick: this place is great. I highly recommend the Pei Wei Chicken (their take on General Tsao chicken- prettaay, prettayy good.)

                                    3 Replies
                                      1. re: Bob W

                                        Hehe, I'm glad you got the reference. Have you happened to see season 6 yet? Larry and his crazy stance on gelato sampling had me laughing like crazy.

                                        1. re: digkv

                                          oh, yeah, great scene at the gelato shop!

                                    1. the lettuce wraps are reliable and consistent.

                                      i like the ma po tofu, steamed not fried.

                                      the cantonese scallops are also decent.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Emme

                                        I had the ma po tofu the first time I went to PFChangs, right after they opened, and enjoyed it. I ordered it again the last time I was there and it was so oversauced I literally gagged upon putting it in my mouth. It was soo embarrassing. Thank goodness I was only with my SO and no one else witnessed it. I explained to my waitress the issue, too much sauce and therefore so salty I could not put it in my mouth. She was very friendly and got me another order w/ less sauce and told me the kitchen had recently upped the sauce amount bc patrons were complaining of things being not saucy enough. Eek!
                                        If you generally eat at home and are not accustomed to very salty food I would definitely suggest ordering everything lightly sauced as they can be heavy handed.(this was also the advice of the waitress as well so they can't get too irritated)

                                      2. Honestly, people who bash PF Changs tend to be from cities. I live in Boston and, yes, i can get chinese food that is authentic and a zillion times better than PF Changs. However, back home in NJ it tends to be strictly polynesian style faux chinese and takeout joints. PF Changs compares favorably with places like that. If I were in NYC I could go to Chinatown or Flushing and get amazing stuff; but tell that to someone who lives in Nebraska.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: tamerlanenj

                                          When I lived in a very small, non-ethnically diverse town several years ago, everyone was thrilled when we got a PF Chang's at the mall. The only Asian food in town to date had been your standard, greasy order-by-number Chinese takeout, and one "gourmet" Thai restaurant that was both incredibly overpriced and incredibly bad. PF Chang's was wildly popular and for the same reason as any other restaurant: decent food, decent prices, decent service, and consistency. To tamerlanenj's point, not everyone has access to a huge variety of ethnic foods cooked well and "authentically". And even though I live in a larger city with lots of ethnic diversity now, if I'm craving dan dan noodles or pad thai, I don't have a problem going to Chang's or Pei Wei.

                                          1. re: tamerlanenj

                                            I tend to agree. I notice from comments on this board that the folks who like PF Chang's the most tend to be from parts of the country that I tend to think (albeit having not visited most of the areas in question) probably don't have much in the way of a local Chinese food scene - in fact I really feel like there are a lot of aspects to PF Chang's that seem geared towards the Chinese food novice. The place feels like an American restaraunt that just happens to serve Chinese food. But having said all that, where I live (Los Angeles) there is no shortage of 'authentic' Chinese food - especially in certain parts of the city, but that style of food is not my thing so much. Most of the Chinese places I prefer - and really, most of the Chinese places around town - serve food that is not altogether that different than what you get at PF Changs. The main differences, I feel, are that a) PF Chang is a bit pricey and b) most of their dishes are done better by the afforementioned places, leaving me with little reason to go to PF Chang.

                                            1. re: Marvin

                                              I know and like authentic chinese food. But if i am in a city which is not known for chinese food (NYC, San Fran), etc then PF Chang may be the best place to go for some chinese.

                                              Nice, clean atmosphere and good service. I like the mongolian lamb and the black bean beef. It's probably something that even my parents will like.

                                          2. I live in NC & like to eat at the PF Chang's in Asheville. Very GOOD stuff! Have you tried their frozen dinner entrees? I made the Orange Chicken, tonight, and added some white rice and egg rolls. My hubby went nuts over it! The really amazing thing is that the frozen version tastes fresh as if you are sitting in PF Chang's. If you haven't tried it -- TREAT YOURSELF!!!

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: JulieBoolie

                                              I would never try their frozen entrees because I think their food is gross in the restaurant, a total sugar and fat bomb.

                                              1. re: mcf

                                                "I would never try their frozen entrees...a total sugar and fat bomb."

                                                The frozen versions are more like firecrackers rather than bombs when it comes to the sugar and fat content (especially when compared across the spectrum of frozen dinners available in major supermarkets in the US).


                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                  I eat a much higher % of calories from fat, daily. But just look at the sugar and total carb content; it's more than the protein and fat combined. Most of it is pure sugar and the rest of the carbs convert rapidly to sugar. With fat, that's a bomb.

                                                  I confess to hating the PFC restaurant experience, too.

                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                    But if one measures it in context to other entrees found in the frozen food aisle of the typical American supermarket it comes out as much less of a bomb than most. And we need to keep in mind where this discussion is taking place (i.e. the "Chains" board).

                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                      Points taken, though there are chains with far better and much less sugar laden choices out there. It's been years since I've bought a frozen dinner from anywhere, though.

                                            2. Overall, I think that the P.F. Chang's in Tampa is one of the best chain restaurants I have been to. The chicken and lettuce wrap, invented at the now-deceased Mandarin Restaurant in San Francisco by owner Cecilia Chang and her cohorts (no relation to P.F. Chang's owners), is excellent.

                                              My favorite dish is the Chengdu Lamb, which is spicy, crunchy, and had a touch of sweetness.

                                              The dish I like least is the Moo Shu Pork, which has almost no pork strips in it. The first time that I ordered it, I thought that there had been a mistake and asked my waitress if they had forgotten to put the pork in the dish. But no . . . !

                                              All in all, the quality of the food that you get at P.F. Chang's surpasses the quality at most hole-in-the-wall take out places here in Florida. I don't think it is as good as 25% of the formal, sit-down Chinese restaurants around. But, hey, look at it this way: if you can beat the quality and taste of 75% plus of your competitiors, you're doing great.

                                              As someone who lived in Singapore for a year, I'd say that about half the dishes on the P.F. Chang's menu have been modified for American tastes and about half have not. Certainly, more exotic dishes will not be found on the menu.

                                              To summarize: if you live in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, or San Francisco, you've got better choices available. If you live in Charlotte, NC, Tampa, FL, Davenport, IA, Tyler, TX, or Louisville, KY, you may not. Certainly, I'd recommend going there. You'll get a good meal. Just skip the Moo Shu Pork, unless you're a vegetarian.