By Mike Thayer
It was a birthday celebration for one of my friends and for dinner on this occasion, we headed to her restaurant of choice, P.F. Chang's.
If you've never been to a P.F. Chang's, it's an Asian restaurant founded in California and they take great pride in making food from scratch every day in every restaurant. Featuring wok cooking, they slice and hand chop the veggies and meats and all sauces are scratch made. Their approach in the kitchen has lead to some pretty impressive growth and today, P.F. Chang's has over 200 restaurants in the U.S. plus over 95 restaurants abroad.
The restaurant was quite busy on a Saturday night, but our 'party organizer' had a table reserved so our party of seven was seated upon arrival. Greeted warmly by our waitress, we ordered some drinks and waters to go around, along with some appetizers. For my drink, I ordered an Old Fashioned made with Japanese Whiskey but I can't recall the brand. It was a very good Old Fashioned, the bartender did it right, but a bit on the pricey side at $12. After that I opted for the house whiskey and Sprite at $7. On the downside, one of my friends in the party ordered a Long Island Iced Tea and the bartender didn't do that one so well. It was terrible, VERY lemon forward, it was more of a Arnold Palmer drink than it was a genuine Long Island. It was so bad in fact, it got taken off the tab.
One appetizer item you HAVE to try if you don't already love them, are Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps, they are STELLAR! There isn't a description of this item on the restaurant website, only to say, A secret family recipe and our signature dish. Enough said. What you get is perfectly cooked and seasoned chicken, crispy noodles which you wrap in fresh baby Romaine leaves. It's another dose of YUM! Other appetizers we ordered and shared were Crispy Green Beans which are Tempura battered and accompanied by a signature spicy dipping sauce, as well as some Sushi, California rolls. These other appetizers were excellent as well, but those Lettuce Wraps were hands down the favorite for everyone.
The danger to ordering a number of fantastic appetizers, is getting full before the dinner orders arrive, but that didn't stop us. I went with the Crispy Honey Chicken, which is lightly battered, tossed in a tangy honey sauce, topped with some green onion and served over those tasty crispy noodles.
Other orders around the table included the Honey Chicken - a VERY popular dish - but a variety of other items to include Mongolian Beef, Pepper Steak and Egg Drop Soup. It was ALL good, everybody thoroughly enjoyed the appetizers and their entrées, nobody had a bad meal and the kitchen served up some really great food, no flaws, no disappointments, no complaints!
Then came dessert.
I did NOT realize P.F. Chang's cranked out such great desserts! The table treated the desserts like we did the appetizers, sampling and sharing Banana Spring Rolls, Tiramisu and New York Style Cheesecake. Now Tiramisu and Cheesecake aren't exactly authentic Asian cuisine desserts, but WHO CARES! All the desserts ROCKED! It was fun tasting them all, they were all excellent but the consensus favorite was the New York Style Cheesecake. What a great way to cap off a fantastic meal and yes, they taste as great as they look!