Restaurant Review: P.F. Chang's China Bistro
I have developed a love, a lust in fact, for P. F. Chang's China Bistro food. Yes, I am in love with it and I wish to share with you the very wonderful experiences I have had with their restaurants. I have been to three and, while they were each a unique and wonderful experience, I have never been disappointed. I was thrilled to learn that a location had opened a mere hour's drive from my home. So thrilled that I chose it as the place to celebrate my birthday. My elderly parents, children and grandchildren all made the trek for this delightful experience....just for me! On with the review!
My First Experience
My very first experience with P.F. Chang's China Bistro was in Riverside, California. The sweet parents of my son's closest friend in the United States Marine Corps boot camp had "adopted" my son while he attended his extended M.O.S. training at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California. They would drive to Oceanside, pick up our sons, take them to their lovely home and they would stay for the weekend. Then they would return them to Pendleton at the weekend's end. It was a welcome break for the boys and gave me the opportunity to talk to my son on the phone on a regular basis....something I had not had the chance to do since he had decided to enlist.
When his graduation from S.O.I (School of Infantry) was announced I made plans to attend and these sweet people graciously invited me to stay with them while I was there. I will never be able to repay their kindness fully! ANYWAY....they picked me up from the airport and headed straight to P.F. Chang's Chinese Bistro in Riverside, California. The sight of the Warrior and the Stallion at the front of the restaurant was looming, but inside the decor and atmosphere was delightful! As I had never been there before, they ordered for me and I was absolutely delighted!
We had a variety of items that I cannot even begin to recall! What stuck with me most was the service of the waiter who actually chatted with us to learn our "tastes", then proceeded to create a blend of ingredients to create our own special sauce! He demonstrated how to create the wraps or rolls and then I tasted my first bite of roll which had been wrapped in a grape leaf! It was amazingly great and hit ALL my taste bud favorites!!
I was hooked! Graduation was great, my Marine flew home with me for a surprise visit AND I could only talk about P.F. Chang's!
Several years later, while visiting my Marine who was now stationed in Newport News, Virginia, I learned there was a P.F. Chang's at nearby Virginia Beach. I was THRILLED! I convinced my sons and my parents that they absolutely HAD to try it!
I remembered a few key points:
- I loved it!
- There were these roll up, wrappy thingys!
- They made great sauce with stuff.
- It tasted great!
- That's pretty much it! Oh NO!!!!
Here I was the one in charge of ordering and I had NO clue!! Oh well.....they loved me and were adventurous enough to try!
We walked in and the restaurant atmosphere was spot on! AWESOME! Classy, yet relaxed...just perfect. We were a bit early for dinner and VERY late for lunch, so there weren't many people in the restaurant at the time. This is one reason I am sure we were treated like royalty. The other being that.... when I explained to the waiter about my first experience being great in California and how I was from Kansas and had no clue what to order....he took mercy on me! Not only that, but he told his manager.
The manager had actually first trained and worked at the Riverside location. He was pleased to meet someone who had been in his old home environment! Not only that, but after a short conversation, we learned that his mother lived less than 30 miles from our home in Kansas! Shoot....we were practically family now!! He made sure we had special treatment! He sent us free appetizers, gave us samples of a new menu item, sent a special desssert, AND paid for half of our bill himself! It was his way of "treating" someone from home!!
In spite of the special treatment, we were NOT disappointed! The food was excellent, the custom blended sauce (at the table I might add) and the service were exactly as I had experienced in California. Now there were 5 of us addicted to P.F. Chang's food!
Chang's Comes Close To Home!
Trolling on Facebook, I learned that a younger cousin has just returned from dinner at P.F. Chang's! "WHAT!!! Where!? I gotta know!!!" was my response! When she said it was in Rogers, Arkansas (an hour away) I knew that I would HAVE to go....some way, some how....I was gonna get some Chang's! I chatted with my family and made plans to drag them all down to Rogers for dinner! They were all good sports and agreed that my birthday dinner would be the perfect time!
P.F. Chang's China Bistro
P.F. Chang's China Bistro at Pinnacle Hills Promenade
P.F. Chang's China Bistro - Virginia Beach Town Center
P. F. Chang's China Bistro - Riverside Galleria at Tyler
We made the hour long trek to Rogers, Arkansas in a mini caravan. My son and his sweetheart in her sportscar, hubby and I with my parents in our car and my daughter, husband and little boys in their diesel truck covering the back! The day was bright, but overcast....perfect driving!! The countryside was beautiful and we were hungry! All is absolutely perfect!
We arrived, all ten of us, midday at the restaurant. We signed the guestbook and looked around. A group this large without a reservation (not my smartest move) took a bit to get a space! We were offered seating in two separate groups, but as it was my birthday, I explained that I was willing to wait to be able to be seated together. It took less than an hour. The time did kick us out of the lunch menu time frame and into the dinner hour, but the manager offered us the lunch menu and prices since we had to wait. That was great with me!
We had poured over the menu and had chosen several different entrees so as to get the most diversity from the menu! We had Sweet and Sour Chicken, Phillip's Better Lemon Chicken, Crispy Honey Chicken, Beef and Broccoli, Kid's Chicken Fried Rice, Asian Grilled Norwegian Salmon, Almond and Cashew Chicken, and they were each served with a choice of egg drop soup, hot and sour soup, or house salad. In addition, several of us had gone to www.pfchangs.com and signed up for the Warrior Rewards Program and received an introductory offer of free lettuce wraps. This move was my SMARTEST move EVER! They were absolutely delicious! They were cold, crisp lettuce leaves served on a plate alongside a platter with a delicious chicken, water chestnut, mushroom, onion mixture blended with a delicious sauce. They were served within minutes of receiving our drinks. They were enjoyed by both young and old! My 3 year old grandson, Bryar, ate more of this than his Papaw (my husband)! Definitely a must do for any guest!
The restaurant was elegantly decorated, the music was jazzy and the children were welcomed! Our two youngest members were well entertained with child menus, crayons and child-friendly chopsticks, but the appetizers quickly took control upon arrival! When our appetizers came, our waiter explained how to mix our own sauce including how to make it milder with rice vinegar, spicier with pepper oil and sweeter with soy sauce. The Egg Drop Soup was smooth and rich and served with a Chinese soup spoon. We also were each given a set of chopsticks, though none of us were any good at using them! The House Salad was large, crisp and delicious! The lettuce wraps arrived shortly after, we dove in and soon they were gone!
Mere minutes after our plates were cleared, we were served our entrees. Each guest was more than pleased and each meal was completely eaten! It was a good thing we had luncheon sized servings! My favorite was actually the Norwegian Salmon my husband had ordered! It was delightful without being spicy! Every dish was delicious! The portions were not too little, not too much, but just right! The egg drop soup was smooth and the lettuce wraps were crisp! Everyone's favorite was the fried chinese noodles....bright white and wiry! Too much fun!!
We were surprised to find we didn't have room for dessert! The waiter cleared dirty dishes and brought our check! The prices were great! The food was great and the atmosphere was even better!! We finished off the evening by strolling around the outdoor shopping mall that surrounds the restaurant. All kinds of shops including Dillard's, White House/Black Market, Gap, among many others were a beautiful backdrop to the evening. As we wound our way back toward the car, parked in front of P.F. Chang's, we found ourselves enjoying the beat of a jazz band who were playing out in the square. The mall provided lawn chairs, the Lord provided a cool and balmy evening. It was a great evening!
Good thing there were birthday goodies to eat later at my Mother's house a mere hour away! The fresh air and stroll had taken their toll!!
In My Freezer!
I have found P.F. Chang's dinners available in my local grocer's freezer section. It is my next adventure! I am not sure if my home atmosphere will ever measure up, nor do I have the abilities that the waiters and waitresses have with sauces, but being able to have it as close as the freezer may compensate somewhat. I don't know yet. I will let you know when I am less full and more likely to eat again! In the meantime.....I LOVE P.F. Chang's China Bistro!! Give it a try!
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Text and Photo Copyright 2012 Deborah M. Carey
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