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PF Chang's?

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I just saw an add for PF Chang's and I'm wondering why food court Chinese-american food is tastier? Anyone? Also how hard is it to cook frozen dumplings, yet PF Chang's dumplings are the worst incarnation of dumplings I've ever seen? They are totally unlike any dumplings I've ever gotten anywhere else too.
I get that there are a few, probably delicious dishes depending on how much sauce that particular chef is adding from the pre-made stock...
Please explain the popularity of this over-priced and, to me, very bad, restaurant.
I don't care if others want to eat there. I just want to understand :)

PFC is very different from any other Chinese-American food I've had. I eat cheap Chinese on occasion in a food court, it serves it's purpose particularly as there isn't a whole lot near where I work. CCF has a lot of options- and they make substitutions. It's better than the equivalent in the food court. So I'm asking what people like about PFC that makes them pay more for it than food court Chinese?

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  1. It's a chain in most malls and like most chains its about feeding the masses. To many it serves a need. If you don't like it why care if others do?

    Disclaimer: i have never eaten at one. To me they are an Asian version of a CCF or CPK.

    3 Replies
    1. re: foodieX2

      I've never seen one at a mall, ever.

        1. re: melpy

          Like in Lexington Ky it is attached to the mall.

    2. I'll be honest and admit that I go there a couple of time a year. But it's only for 2 menu items. I get the Northern Style spare ribs appetizer which I can not seem to duplicate at home, and a lemon/coconut cocktail that I love. I just grab a seat at the bar and enjoy my snack.
      I've never eaten a sit down meal there, but that's one of my favorite little meals after a mall run.

      1. When owned by founders Paul Fleming and chef Philip Chiang, their restos were a decent 7 out of 10, since the buyout last year and new "suits" running the "empire"....I would rate it more a 3 out of 10...and agree with another poster....Drinks (decent wine list) at the bar with Happy Hour food bites.....You can get far better prepared full meals at any strip mall with an old cook manning the wok.

        1. <Please explain the popularity of this over-priced and, to me, very bad, restaurant. >

          You can say that for just about half of the higher end restaurants.

          I have been there three times. Most of the dishes range from Good to Acceptable, but a few are downright nasty. (e.g. I won't touch them even if they are free) Most of these restaurants are also about service and atmosphere. Yes, I would say most of the Chinese restaurants in my local Chinatown serves slight better to much better foods -- and much cheaper. However, most of them do not have the atmosphere or service for doing a business lunch or business dinner. I cannot bring a guest to my local Chinatown restaurant where the waiter and waitress just say F this and F that in Chinese. Personally, I love it, but these are not places for unfamiliar guests.

          1. I only went to PF Chang's once a few years ago for a work lunch, and after that experience never went back again, and never will go back again. I wouldn't even call PF Chang's Chinese food, it's that American/Chinese fusion that leans more heavily on the American side of the palette, with a bit of Chinese influence here and there. It tastes more like weird American food, not Chinese.

            3 Replies
                1. re: Bunson

                  I think it would be a stretch to call it "food".

                2. PF Changs, like all chains, provide a sense of familiarity, safety and consistency to them that make them feel approachable to the average American diner. The sad fact is most people are just looking to get fed and they want a "safe" option. Surveys have said that these diners feel chains are safe since they feed the masses all over the country while independents are very risky since they are a "unknown" and the food may be unfamiliar to them.

                  My brother-in-law, a well educated doctor will not step into a locally owned restaurant because he thinks they are unsanitary and the food doesn't taste as "good" as the chains.

                  A local Indian restaurant owner finally succumbed to financial pressure and Americanized much of his authentic Indian cuisine. His business is up and his ratings on yelp and urban spoon sky-rocketed because he conformed to what everyone thought was Indian food. He sadly states he olive gardenized his food. I have seen this time and time again. PF Changs works because it's highly Americanized fusion garbage that is designed for the American Palate. And since there are far more people who want this stuff than the real stuff the PF Changs and Olive Gardens will thrive in America.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: RetiredChef

                    <He sadly states he olive gardenized his food>

                    It is about survival. We (as a whole) get what we ask for.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      I stated that - but the fact is he doesn't like it and I don't since his was the only place to get Indian food in my city.

                      1. re: RetiredChef

                        Not disagreeing with you. Just trying to agree with you. :)

                    2. re: RetiredChef

                      The guy has to make a living. Even McDonald's adjusts menus to local tastes in different countries. This is not a crime, just good business.

                      Is it "authentic"? Who cares? To be termed authentic there must be a standard to compare to. In the case of Chinese food that standard is a moving target given the wide variability in the cuisine among the different regions.

                      Does PF Changs suck? Yes, but it is what it is and is pretty profitable.

                      1. re: RetiredChef

                        Its funny, I had lunch there with two of my good friends. I enjoyed it, they did but said it was too expensive. Yet they love Olive Garden which I think is overpriced and not as good.

                        1. re: libgirl2

                          The last time I went to Olive Garden I was actually sort of shocked by the prices. I've had really excellent Italian food at nice restaurants for less than what was being charged for fairly lousy food at Olive Garden, and the place was full of families with a line out the door. Totally baffling.

                          1. re: Boston_Otter

                            I agree. My friends and I had a $50 gift card for OG. We had a simple lunch, no alcohol and it was over that amount for the 3 of us. And it wasn't very good.

                        2. re: RetiredChef

                          Sad but true, I guess. Sorry about your BIL's changes.

                        3. When I eat at a food-court Chinese place, I know what I'm going to get: cheap, incredibly poor-quality fake-Chinese food that's been sitting in a steamer for hours. And that's what I inevitably get, which is why I rarely get food-court Chinese food.

                          On the other hand, on the few occasions that I've been taken to PF Chang's with family, I've been surprised at the quality, overall. It's not 'authentic', but it's been miles better than anything in a mall food court, and unlike a mall, it's.... well... not in a mall food court, and folks can make special dietary requests, alterations, etc from their server (something else you don't get in a mall food court).

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: Boston_Otter

                            I agree... I can't think of anything worse than the food-court stuff. Much of what's offered at PF Chang's isn't good, but IMO it's not in the same league as the food-court crap. (Though maybe there are places that have much better food courts than we have here in New Jersey!)

                            1. re: Boston_Otter

                              I never think of PF Chang as horrible. It isn't. Many of its foods are good to reasonable. A few are horrible, but maybe the chefs had a bad day.

                              I understand that PF Chang is not traditional Chinese food, but that is more the reasons why we should not judge it using the Chinese standard. If you judge a good Indian restaurant using the Chinese culinary standard, then the Indian restaurant will be considered as bad as well. Try to judge PF Chang as something else.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                I agree it's like the comparison of Chipotle to traditional Mexican food. For me, it's good for what it is but perhaps I'm not a real Chow because I admit I enjoy a nice heaping plate of takeout standard Americanized Chinese food many times a year.

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  A friend with a lot of world-travel under her belt says that PF Chang's restaurants vary considerably in quality. According to her, the one in Tucson is a good one. I've never had a bad meal there, but I've only been there a few times.
                                  This is the same friend that decided that she and hubby couldn't go to Chez Panisse for their 35th anniversary because the ENtire menu was filled with ingredients that one or the other of them "could not eat due to allergies". I am so sure.

                                  1. re: EWSflash

                                    Right, because restaurants never take requests for allergy substitutes...

                                2. re: Boston_Otter

                                  It’s actually pretty good at what it does. That is offer Americanized Chinese food to young Professionals with disposable income looking for a bite and drinks. The food is well above average for what it is and the setting is also more upscale than most other chains targeting the same demographic. The fact that the food is decent is not surprising as the Chang in PF Chang’s is for the cofounder, Philip Chiang. His Mother, Cecilia Chiang ran the Mandarin in SF.

                                  1. re: mike0989

                                    The only time I've eaten there was just as you said, bites with other co-workers and drinks. It served the purpose just fine.

                                3. PF Chang's is to Chinese Food as Mc' Donald's is to Irish.

                                  20 Replies
                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                    Y'know, I'm looking at their menu right now, and while there's plenty of Chinese-American dishes (lettuce wraps, General Gao's chicken, crab wontons), there's also plenty of pretty authentic Chinese on there, too. I'm not going to pretend it's fine dining or that a PF Chang's in Beijing wouldn't be laughed at. But, hey, I had some fine burgers and fries in Ireland, so you may not be totally off...

                                    1. re: Boston_Otter

                                      <there's also plenty of pretty authentic Chinese on there, too>

                                      It isn't so much about lettuce wraps or General Tso chicken. Regular Chinese restaurant have those too. It is about how PF Chang executes the foods.

                                      Again, PF Chang is fine. I like it. I like McDonald too. It just it is difficult to say PF Chang is a 100% Chinese restaurant. To me, PF Chang is a fusion restaurant -- 70% Chinese, 30% American.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        <To me, PF Chang is a fusion restaurant -- 70% Chinese, 30% American.>

                                        Good analogy. The food is actually good. I suspect they are in general using better ingredients than most Chinese restaurants that are available in most areas.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          < It is about how PF Chang executes the foods.>

                                          Exactly, I always say that PF Chang's is to Chinese as Olive Garden is to Italian or Taco Bell is to Mexican. If you accept it for what it is Fusion Chinese American it has some tasty dishes.

                                          1. re: RetiredChef

                                            All this whining about it is making me want to eat there.

                                            1. re: rasputina

                                              I've eaten there a couple of times with friends from work. It was pretty good. I wouldn't compare it as "mexican to taco bell", it is several levels above that both in atmosphere and serving alcohol. It was kind of fun.

                                              1. re: Firegoat

                                                I haven't eaten there in a couple years but my husband really likes their Mongolian beef.

                                                1. re: Firegoat

                                                  I really enjoy their tofu lettuce wraps.

                                                  1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                    Me too - and the spicy eggplant dish and Ma Po Tofu.

                                              2. re: RetiredChef

                                                Olive Garden and Taco Bell? Ouch... pretty harsh!

                                                1. re: RetiredChef

                                                  <Olive Garden is to Italian or Taco Bell is to Mexican.>

                                                  Olive Garden analogy is not bad. Taco Bell seems a bit harsh.

                                                2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  Of course it's fusion, they call themselves a China bistro.

                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    Usually we go to PF Changs when there are many people with different food needs: low carb, vegetarian & gluten free. The dishes are clearly labeled and I don't have to spend a long time asking the waiter a lot of questions. Now. I don't think of it as Chinese food. But, for what it does, it's decent.

                                                3. re: jrvedivici

                                                  I had always assumed the McDonalds who started the first of the McDonald's restaurants were of Scottish origin. But doing a bit of online research I see they were indeed of Irish origin.

                                                  Fine Irish food that :)

                                                  1. re: drongo

                                                    Yep. Mc is Irish, Mac is Scottish.

                                                    1. re: RedTop

                                                      Interesting, so Mc' Donalds the Irish fast food chains claim to fame is the BIG MAC, which now is Scottish!?!?!?!

                                                      I think we are on to something here peep's.

                                                      1. re: RedTop

                                                        "Mc is Irish, Mac is Scottish."

                                                        Widely believed, but not true. Each version appears in both Irish and Scottish family names.

                                                      2. re: drongo

                                                        You put way more thought into that then I did! Lucky guess by me! lol

                                                        1. re: drongo

                                                          Ha! I recall the owner of a local business whose name is MacBain tell somebody (actually I overheard it, plain and simple) " My grandmother was widowed early and remarried pretty quickly. She was a MacBain and she married a MacDonald and there went the family fortune". That was twenty years ago and I still can hear it like it was today.

                                                        2. I've only eaten there a few times, and the food was decent. However the decor in them is way over the top and no where near reflective of the quality of their food.

                                                          I did like their Kung Pao Shrimp - each piece of shrimp had a crispy glaze on it, it wasn't just slopped on like most takeout.

                                                          I tried some of their Moo Shoo Pork though, and though it was really bland and flavorless.

                                                          1. Sodium bomb.....had to eat there 3 times with a vendor as they were treating.....each time it was worse than before.

                                                            I think they should just decribe things as they are instead of pretending to be even "Americanized Chinese Food":

                                                            "Noodles with chicken in a salt sauce"......."Hot and Salty Soup"....."Bland Dumplings with a salty brown sauce"....."Generally Salty Chicken"....."Hypertension Terriyaki Sticks"....."Scallion Salt Cakes"...."Poo Poo Making Platter"...

                                                            1. They all have full bars and pour mean drinks better than any other licensed establishment I have ever visited in my entire adult life....chain or otherwise.

                                                              btw....it's really not Chinese.....and the comparison to food court Chinese is ridiculous. There's nothing about the two that are remotely similar. People may go to PFC's simply because it's an option.....the food court may not be one to consider.....

                                                              If eating cheap Chinese is acceptable to you, that's fine..... but to question others about why they like PFC, unlike yourself, is funny.