Restaurant Review – P.F. Chang’s

Let me first say that I am not a big fan of Chinese food, I can take it or leave it. I almost never dine at Chinese restaurants or get take-out despite my husband’s protests who could eat Chinese food every day. I am also extremely picky about the Chinese food I do eat which is very limited. I almost always have Shrimp Chow Mein but occassionally will have Pepper Steak. I like egg rolls and shrimp toast too (I know, not even authentic), but that’s about it. Therefore, please take this review with a grain of salt as far as the food is concerned, the service on the other hand, well…keep reading.

I recently dined at P.F. Chang’s in Princeton for a luncheon for a co-worker who was leaving. I just started working in the area so I am quite unfamiliar with the surroundings but had been told that P.F. Chang’s (a chain Chinese-fusion restaurant) was so popular it was next to impossible to get reservations usually. It is located in a strip mall and it’s quite an interesting structure to behold. There are two giant Chinese warriors on horseback sculptures outside the building and inside is a ultra stylish, hip bistro-type décor. The place was very crowded and noisy and I had a hard time hearing my co-workers.

The first odd thing that happened was that even though there was a party of 8 of us, we were only given four menus. Ok, I understand it’s busy, but I’ve never had to share a menu?? When the waiter approached us, he offered to “create” a menu for us of appetizers and entrees that we could pass around and “share.” Another oddity to me. Most of the group was ok with this except myself and one other co-worker, who pretty much feels the same way about Chinese food as I. We let the watier know that the two of us would like to order our own meal. Maybe I was being a pain in the tush, but between adhereing to my low-carb diet, my acid-reflux limitations, and my overall feelings towards Chinese food, I couldn’t take a risk letting a waiter decide what I’ll eat. I ordered Shrimp Chow Mein to be on the safe side, while my co-worker order Chicken Fried Rice.

The appetizers came and I will admit they were ok to pretty good, nothing outstanding. I tasted Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Crab Wontons, and Steamed Peking Dumplings. I think the best of the three was the Crab Wontons. Nothing was too greasy or too heavy. The Chicken Lettuce Wraps were a little messy to eat though. Next the sharable entrees came out. What was missing was my Shrimp Chow Mein and my co-worker’s Chicken Fried Rice. When we asked the waiter, he seem baffled as if we were just ordering these for the first time. He placed the order in and told me in the meantime, why don’t I start on the entrees that already came out. Hello?? There was a reason I ordered my own entrée. Moving along….When he finally did bring out our food, the rest of the table was just about done. What he placed in front of me looked nothing like the Shrimp Chow Mein I am used to (shrimp with celery, bok choy (?), onions, and water chestnuts in a white sauce). It was with noodles in a soy sauce. I asked him, “This is Shrimp Chow Mein? I’ve never had it like that.” He then explained to me that mein means noodles in Chinese and this was authentic Chow Mein, unlike what I order at take-out places. This is probably my fault because on the menu, it does say egg nooodles with stir-fried shrimp and I missed that. But here’s the kicker: it wasn’t even shrimp chow mein – it was chicken chow mein. What if I was a vegetarian?! Several of my co-workers remarked they would never risk taking someone here with food allergies. He offered to take it back and get me shrimp chow mein. At this point, I am beyond frustrated so I say no, I don’t want anything, my table mates are just about done. I was just going to eat a granola bar back at my desk. My co-workers graciously insisted that I order something. The waiter offered to bring me stir-fry veggies, no rice, very quickly, which he did. By then, everyone was completely done. The stir-fry veggies were semi-cooked in a soy sauce, woop-dee-doo. I ate them because I was hungry, but I’ve had better Lean Cuisine frozen entrees. (yuck)

When it came time to order dessert, everyone ordered coffee and I requested tea. When he repeated back the order, he said, “Ok, so 7 coffees, right?” By then, my co-workers picked up on how much this guy must have had it with me so they yelled back at him, “AND ONE TEA!” Thanks girls.

The desserts came and surprisingly,  my tea! The desserts were the best part of the meal. I tried Banana Spring Rolls which are pretty much fried bananas, but very yummy with a crispy texture outside and warm, soft banana inside. I also had a small bite of the Flourless Chocolate dome, which was just the basic very chocolatey fudgy cakes that a lot of restaurants carry now. It was good and chocolately. Neither dessert were anything to write home about, but I did enjoy tasting them.

Overall, as you pretty much figured out, I had a horrible dining experience. I would not recommend this place nor would I ever go back. I don’t see what the appeal is, I think it is completely overrated. The food was mediocre, the service horrendous, and the ambiance, well, I think they are trying to hard to be hip. I’ll take the tiny, little take-out Chinese place in the Millburn Mall in Millburn, NJ anyday. Well, not anyday, maybe just that once every few months, when I give into my husband’s craving for Chinese food.

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8 Comments »

  1. I didn’t realize we lived near each other – when I worked in that area I passed the PF Chang’s every day on my way home from work. 🙂

    I love Chinese food and I really like PF Chang’s, but I’ve never only had it once on the east coast (in AC) – the other times I was in CA visiting my dad. The Chang’s over there weren’t quite as busy. I’ve heard the one you went to has some serious service issues and is always packed because of the novelty factor.

    I’m sorry your meal wasn’t very good. Sounds like a comedy of errors!

  2. Sara said

    I agree with you about Chinese food, never was a huge fan. I will only go to one place around me, and like you I choose my safety dishes……mine is Vegetable mei fun. Sounds like an experience, and i will now cross that off my list of places to eat haha 🙂

  3. foodiedani said

    Hey Home Cook- Where are you located? I live in Monmouth County but work in Princeton area. That’s interesting about what you’ve heard about PF Chang’s service issues. I never understood novelty restaurants (like Rainforest Cafe, etc.). I am there for the food!!!

    Hey Sara – Vegetable Mei Fun? Now what is that? lol! Yes, cross PF Chang’s off your list, especially in you move to the area!

  4. Sara said

    It’s basically angel hair pasta with lots of veggies with a little soy sauce, what’s not to like about it haha! It’s officially crossed of the list lol!

  5. foodiedani said

    Interesting Sara, I’ll have to try Mei Fun.

  6. I actually live in PA now (Bucks County) but I’m originally from Mercer County. 🙂

  7. supercharz said

    Oh no, it looks like someone needs to take you to China/Hong Kong and give you some real Chinese food and first class service! 😉 I’m not going to make excuses for the atrocious service you got, but I will say one thing – the waiter was probably suggesting you start on the entrees as it’s custom in Chinese dining to share.

  8. foodiedani said

    That explains a lot Supercharz regarding the sharing…Still a crappy waiter though :O I’ll gladly go to China or Hong Kong to get some good food!

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