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P. F. Chang's China Bistro in White Marsh

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They are just completing the construction of a new P.F. Chang's China Bistro in White Marsh at the White Marsh Mall. It should be opening soon.

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  1. that is perfect for the location - expensive, for the masses, tame cuisine - it is edible though.

    1. Plan to have a standing lunch order of the salt and pepper calamari appetizer... yum! I heard that they will be opening mid-June.

      1. They should call that chain PF Garlic! Have never had a good experience and I tried at least 3 times in different cities.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Seabiscuit

          This is a national chain, and an abomination. I find nothing chowish or chow-worthy to discuss about it, other than how it is robbing yet another mall in yet another ex-burb of an opportunity to bring true chow to the community.

          1. re: crackers

            here here

            1. re: Seabiscuit

              The part I found galling was being asked if I was familiar with Asian food. In my mind, I'm asking exactly what Asian cuisine? Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Sichuan, Cantonese, Indian (of what sub-culture), Sri Lankan, etc, etc.

              Then after saying that yes I was, I'm STILL put through some rote direction that "this" sauce is "like salt" (fish sauce)., etc.

              It was okay to my palette, but otherwise so insulting, that it's a place of disdain for me.

              I have my fair share to learn about the cultures, sub cultures and their food, but heck - I'm about a decade (at least) in front of these yahoos and their customers..

            2. re: crackers

              Um, why would you expect to find chow-worthiness in a bland suburban mall?

          2. WOW....why is everyone bashing PF Changs ?
            As far as chains go....I think their food is good....and more creative than your typical Chinese restaurant.(which all seem to have the same menu) And if you've ever seen the kitchens of your "typical" chinese restaurant.....I feel much safer eating at PF Changs.

            16 Replies
            1. re: MDicecreamguy

              I agree with MDicecreamguy. A few of the dishes (faintly) remind me of China, which none of the other Chinese offeriings in the Baltimore area do [I haven't been to Asian Court]. their Yunnan potato dish tasted as if it had been created by someone who had been to the province, even if the flavors had been severely modified by the Corporate Suits.
              If I lived near New York or San Francisco or Vancouver, I would thoroughly despise them; but unlike Ding How or Cafe Zen, there are still occasional sparks flying.

              1. re: crowsonguy

                I have to disagree, crowsonguy. Nothing I've ever had from PFC has ever hinted at authentic flavors. I've been to PFCs a few times, mostly due to being out voted when I was still in college, and it was embarrassing that every time we went, I was the only Asian person in the entire place. Don't misunderstand me, I believe that there probably are a few dishes that are edible there, tasty even, but definitely not authentic. Whenever I go (and this counts for most 'Asian' restaurants around here), I simply try to go in with no expectations of flavor, like if I were judging completely unheard-of food. It usually helps me come out satisfied, or at least less angry.

                As for authentic Chinese, my vote goes to Szechuan House in Timonium. It still has the traditional Americanized stuff you'll see in every restaurant, but they have a section of dishes that taste decently close to the real thing. Hounders always will post that you should order off the 'Taste of Country"' (or something to that effect) side of the menu. I've always just order my food off of memory from what I know they've cooked before for me/family, but one day I decided to check the menu, and sure enough of the things I ordered that were actually on the menu, all of them came from that section.

                1. re: Wangus

                  It's called "Countryside Taste," and is the last page of the menu. I go there for both their fine Chinese-American offerings, and their more "Chinese food for Chinese people," offerings.

                  But, back to the OP: I'm not sure that the opening of a PFC's is either newsworthy or chow worthy, especially in a forum that isn't devoted to chains.

                  1. re: baltoellen

                    Amen sister!

                    1. re: hon

                      I think this is getting a little out of hand: no, PF Changs is not chow worthy, but neither is it the devil incarnate (for those of you who believe in him). I'm not sure why it was posted; all I was saying was that it doesn't deserve the intolerant venom it is getting, when there is little better around here.

                      1. re: crowsonguy

                        You are exactly right - there is little better around here. Though I do not delude myself that PFC's is chow-worthy, or authentic, it will be a nice alternative to the other usual chain garbage in the area. I can't tolerate the Panera-like stuff anymore, and like most of us, only have an hour for lunch. So while it's not "chow", I'm glad PFC's will be there as an alternate choice from my usual brown bag.

                2. re: crowsonguy

                  There is flatly no Chinese food worth eating in Baltimore. Unless, of course, you are at my house. :)

                  1. re: panjianlien

                    If you're talking strictly within the city limits, I don't disagree based on what I've had so far.

                    If you're counting the 'burbs, absolutely false:

                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/520156

                    1. re: Dmnkly

                      I think it may be stretching a bit to consider Odenton a suburb of Baltimore.

                      1. re: Hal Laurent

                        I'm new to the city... I figured anything within a 15 minute drive of the city limits counted :-)

                        1. re: Hal Laurent

                          I'm new here :-)

                          I figured anything within a 15 minute drive of the city limits would count.

                          1. re: Hal Laurent

                            If it allows us to claim this place, I vote to annex it.

                            1. re: JonParker

                              Odenton is about the same - maybe even a bit closer - to the Inner Harbor than P.F. Changs in White Marsh is. But I prefer to think of Odenton as a close-in suburb of Annapolis. :)

                              1. re: JonParker

                                I think we should annex the restaurant and move it to Baltimore.

                          2. re: panjianlien

                            Unfortunately that's true. I love many things about Baltimore food (especially the bars) but for Chinese my D.C.- NOVA side does all the heavy lifting.
                            PF Chang's is okay for a chain restaurant and if you're on a road trip somewhere like on the way to Florida it's fine. I've had simple fish dishes with steamed vegetables and rice and I don't think food snobs ought to trash this place as long as they offer heart-healthy, reasonably priced entrees.
                            I've had waiters in dim sum joints and Thai establishments ask me if I was familiar with their fare as well. It's annoying but not limited to chain restaurants.

                        2. re: MDicecreamguy

                          I understand trying to judge things on a relative scale, but all that needs to be said about PF Chang's was spoken by the carry-out attendant to one of the kitchen staff on the night I carried out. The rest of my order was ready, but the pickled cucumbers were holding up the show. She went around the corner and said, probably louder than she intended:

                          "I don't understand what's taking so long. All they have to do is cut open the bag!"

                          I'm actually okay with dumbed-down Americanized Chinese. It has its place. I adore real Chinese, but I crave the gloopy and overly sweet sometimes. But when a "Chinese" restaurant isn't even willing to make something like pickled cucumbers fresh, that's not just mediocrity, it's utter contempt for good food (they were, incidentally, flat-out AWFUL). I sense no spark at PF Chang's. Respectfully, crowsonguy, I strongly disagree. It's prettified, but it's still the same old Americanized Chinese. Unlike some, I'm not anti-chain as a rule. If it's good, it's good. And yeah, it's better than Ding How, but it isn't like they're the only game in town. Slim as the pickings are in Baltimore, there's decent authentic Chinese a short drive away.

                          "And if you've ever seen the kitchens of your "typical" chinese restaurant.....I feel much safer eating at PF Changs."

                          You know, I have, actually, including quite a few in China that'd probably scare the hell out of you. And yet despite my devotion to the seedy and downscale and the alleys and garages I've eaten in over 40some trips to China, the only two times I've been poisoned by Asian restaurants was when I was eating at the clean, upscale, "safe" restaurants in the "good" part of town in the United States. Anecdotal, yes, but setting aside the fact that this is a really tired old stereotype (bordering on offensive), if eating premade dishes out of hermetically sealed bags makes me "safer", I'll take my chances with the "typical" Chinese restaurant, thanks.

                        3. As the origional poster, I thank you all for the feedback and candor. I have never been to PF Changs, so from your feedback I conclude that it will probably not be my cup of tea (no pun intended).

                          I will definately try Grace Garden in Odenton. If they were open Sundays, I would head there today. I'm also going to try some of the other Chinese restaurants that have been suggested on this forum as well as the Chinese restaurants that Zagat recomends (Chinese restaurants just don't seem to be one of Baltimore's strong suites).

                          I wonder how the China Towns in Philadelphia and Washington stack up to the Baltimore area as far as Chinese food?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Whitemarshjohn

                            Philadelphia's Chinese food offerings are very good. Washington DC's Chinatown is decent as well but many of the Chinese prefer to go to the Wheaton and Silver Spring area for Chinese food.

                            As far as authentic Chinese food goes in the Baltimore Region, Szechuan House in Lutherville probably has the largest menu and variety that is closer to the authentic style. Golden Dragon in Randallstown use to have more authentic offerings but i'm not sure if they still do.

                            1. re: Whitemarshjohn

                              Baltimore has no Chinatown any more, which is part of the problem. All the Chinese migrated out toward the 270 corridor, which is why you get so many good Chinese places in, for instance, Rockville. (Go to Joe's Noodle House, or Chopstix (horrible name but great pork and pickled cabbage) and you will see what I mean.)

                              D.C's Chinatown is very small and fading fast. There are still some places that are worth going to down there. Li Ho is a tiny dive that I like, but don't order from the steam table lunch specials, sit down with the menu and stick with the Cantonese.

                              Philadelphia Chinatown has more to explore. I have only been there a few times but found at least one decent Hong Kong-style fish place, so thought it showed promise.

                            2. Opens on June 9th. I respect the critics, but I tell ya, I'll be there this week. Give it a try, before dismissing it. I find it tasty, not authentic. And, I'm a fan of their wine list - especially their red flight trio. Rumor has it they will be opening in Towson as well, with the town center expansion.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: trillgirl

                                "Give it a try, before dismissing it. I find it tasty"

                                I did, and I did not. But consider that a difference of opinion. And do yourself a favor and get to Grace Garden... there's a Chinese restaurant that deserves Baltimore's support (with the understanding that... yeah, the two really have nothing in common :-)

                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/520156

                                1. re: Dmnkly

                                  I've been to both and I don't think you can compare the two! I did like the calimari at PF's as well as the cucumber salad and lettuce wraps. Not GG-like..completely different.

                                  1. re: crosby_p

                                    No, of course you can't. One's Chinese, the other isn't :-)

                                    The point, though, which was made upthread is that you have a national chain that's inspired by Chinese cuisine and pulls at least some of their dishes premade out of cryovac bags, and you have a little independent joint that's serving real, actual, excellent Chinese that's being made with love by a chef who's enthusiastic about sharing the flavors of his home. Setting aside personal preference for a moment (and I'm fully on record as having no problem whatsoever with Americanized Chinese), considering the state of Chinese food in Baltimore, which one needs and should be getting enthusiastic support right now? It's odd that especially here, a website that's ostensibly devoted to seeking out truly excellent food wherever it may hide, in the month when there is, arguably, the best discovery to happen to Baltimore Chinese in years, and while you can sit in Grace Garden and see one table at 8:30 on a Saturday and two take out orders, we have a lengthy thread devoted to excitement over the arrival of a mediocre pseudo-Chinese national chain. And wouldn't it be a tragedy if the authentic family joint ended up disappearing because everybody was too busy eating Philip's Better Lemon Chicken and Buddha's Feast Bowls? When people wonder why there aren't better ethnic restaurants in Baltimore, they only need look at this thread to understand why.

                                    1. re: Dmnkly

                                      Very true...Jon Parker is trying his best to get them to move GG closer to downtown! I'm just so glad that at least some of us are patronizing him...do we know how long he has been in business in Odenton?

                              2. PF Changs is not a shot at the best chinese ever - it is a CHAIN that is looking to give you a fun experience with pan asian food. The food is certainly above average - much bettre than the Applebie, Chilis et al.