I hadn't been to this PF Changs for a meal in a long time; I'm not a huge fan and they also own Pei Wei which they've been opening at a rapid pace. So I've had my fill of chain Chinese food. I used some of my Rewards points for gift cards, and one of them was for PF Chang's.jump-->
One the coldest day of the year, I guess people go to the mall; I actually had to wait for a table at about 2:15. Of course there were plenty of empty tables; the issue was that everyone coming in was a party of 1 or 2, so there was a shortage of small tables. One think I noticed while waiting was that, unlike most "asian' restaurant, there are literally no Asian people working in the FOH. It's actually a very nice restaurant; sort of like a Cheesecake Factory where they serve Chinese dishes.
It was about 10 minutes before I got seated.
I order an iced tea for a change with extra lemon and Splenda.
PF Chang's Iced Tea
PF Chang's signature dish is Mongolian Beef, and they now have it on the Lunch Menu, which is served until 4pm. I probably order it every time I've been to a PF Chang's, so I resisted. Instead I ordered beef with broccoli, which is substantially similar.
The lunch deal is actually better than it appears from their online menu; Lunch includes choice of soup and you can "upgrade" to fried rice for $1. I went with Hot and Sour soup and the fried rice. The soup came out immediately.>
Kind of gloopy, not hot and not sour, without any condiments on the table there was no chance to adjust it. Not even the black pepper trick. The soup is a loser.
I waited quite a while for the main dish, but when it came out is was fresh out of the wok hot; I almost burned my mouth on it.
PF Chang's Beef with Broccoli Lunch
I looked around and saw no-one else using chopsticks, but I like to give it a try. I don't like eating rice with chopsticks, so it was a multi-utensil event.
The rice wasn't very good; it just didn't taste like chinese fried rice. Maybe they bake it or something? The beef was better than what you get at a lot of chinese restaurants, where you just wonder if it really is beef. But the dish is way too saucy and not enough broccoli.
Kind of disappointing. I know this place isn't exactly Chinatown, but I expected it to be better.
Service was very choppy; my server seemed to be overmatched despite the relative emptiness of the dining room after the lunch crowd left. It took her awhile to drop off my check, and then an even longer while to pick it up. Another long wait for a check in a Fort Lauderdale restaurant.
You do get a fortune cookie. I suspect that all of the messages are positive.
PF Chang's Fortune Cookies
I have to admit that I was surprised at several things. I was surprised that the lunch prices were reasonable, and I was surprised at how bad the food was. I really expected it to be better.>
Happy Hour Review 4/30/11
PF Chang's is one of those places that people love to hate. Authenticity snobs will poo-poo this place; here in Fort Lauderdale where good Chinese restaurants are few and far between, it's hard for me to get too worked up about the authenticity issue.
One thing you'll notice about this place is that there aren't any asian people working or eating here (except for 1 girl who was in with her Sugardaddy). From an aesthetic standpoint, the place has a few issues. The bar is just off the door and the hostess station is in the middle of the room, so on the near side of the bar you might as well be in the mall. The lighting is too dim; I couldn't read the menu without using my phone as a light. They have 2 smallish TVs at the bar that are set back and difficult to see with much detail. They also make a lot of frozen drinks and the blenders are constantly whirring away. While it's not uncomfortable at the bar; it's not very comfortable.
I've eaten here a few times before and it's always pretty good; their signature Mongolian Beef is good; but they don't have it on the lunch menu. I wanted to try their happy hour, which is every day between 3pm and 6pm. They serve lunch until 4pm, so if you get there after 3 you can enjoy happy hour at lunch which can be a pretty good deal. Dining ala carte off the menu is pretty expensive; the portions aren't huge and the prices are pretty high.
For happy hour they have $3 to $6 beers and drinks, and Pabst Blue Ribbons for $2 (we have the complete menu here). I ordered up a PBR, 2 BBQ Korean beef tacos and Shanghai Street Dumplings. They give you 3 kinds of dipping sauces; a sweet soy sauce, a chili sauce and hot chinese mustard. Mixing these in different proportions you can come up with something to your taste.
The tacos were nothing like the bulgogi beef I was hoping for; there was a thick, sweet sauce on the meat and not much evidence that the beef was marinated in anything authentic. The taco shells were typical of anything you could buy in a store anywhere.
The dumplings were awful, lacking any sort of flavor at all. They were balls of mush; I'm sure if they served this on a street in Shanghai they would be thrown back at the server in disgust. Considering that I can get 6 decent dumplings at any chinese takeout place for $6.95, paying $4.75 for these is really no bargain at all.
My conclusion is that PF Chang's happy hour is no big deal if you're eating; the miniature portions for a lower price don't really amount to any sort of a bargain. The drinks are cheap, particularly if you like PBR. With Pei Wei opening in a few weeks, I'll prefer to eat there than at this place. I can get a lunch portion of Mongolian Beef at Pei Wei.