To many people, P.F. Chang’s is just phony, mainstream, American Chinese food. And for all those things, I agree. But in truth, my last trip to P.F. Chang’s was about ten years ago and since the girlfriend and I were given some lovely little gift cards to the place, it was time to pay the Changster a visit. We walked in on a Friday night and found the place surprisingly empty. I know it’s a recession and all, but I would think that any decent restaurant in Beverly Hills should have a decent number of people on a Friday night. I guess not; we were seated immediately.
The girlfriend is attempting a gluten free diet and although I’m not a big fan of diets, at least the gluten free one allows you to eat as much meat as you want. P.F. Chang’s actually has an entire section of the menu catering to the unfortunate coeliac population. We started off by sharing one of these glutenless dishes, a simple fried rice. I’m not sure what goes into fried rice normally that would have gluten in it, but this fried rice had egg, soy, scallions and a choice of meat. We chose chicken and the fried rice was at our table within five minutes. One look and I realized that the menu had lied to me. I was okay putting up with scallions, but this rice also had carrots and bean sprouts. These were difficult vegetables to avoid and although the rice was tasty, this definitely tainted the experience. Both the rice and chicken had a good, salty and oily taste that required no additional soy sauce.
For the main course, I chose Chang’s Spicy Chicken. This is their version of General Tso’s chicken, so I figured if I was eating at an Americanized Chinese restaurant I may as well get the most Americanized dish they had. The menu said it didn’t come with any vegetables and unlike the fried rice, this dish stuck by its word. The only things vegetable-like were the 2 or three scallions tossed on the chicken. Otherwise, the chicken looked shiny and delicious. The glaze had a perfect amount of spice to it, which gave the taste buds a bit of a nudge, but not so much that it sent me running for water or rice to buffer the heat. This glaze went great with the crispy breading on the chicken, and the breading retained the crispiness throughout the meal. Inside, the chicken was juicy and flavorful. It may not have been authentic, but it tasted quite good.
Overall, I had a pretty good experience there. The rice may have had a few too many vegetables, but the rest of my food made me wonder why the place was so empty. Then came the fortune cookies. I cracked mine open, hoping to find something funny to tack “in bed” onto. Instead, this fortune was devoid of humor. It said, “Your health is important. Eat your vegetables!” What?! What the hell kind of fortune is that? My issue with this fortune is two-fold. The first is that this isn’t a fortune at all. This doesn’t say that something will happen to me. If it said, “If you don’t eat more vegetables, something terrible will happen to you!” I would have only had one problem with it. And that problem is that this fortune somehow associates vegetables with health. We all know that I am in tip-top shape, a healthy model of unveganism. Damn you, P.F. Chang’s for trying to push something on me that goes against all the fibers of my being. I was just about to praise you in my review for having such tasty phony Chinese food, but this fortune hurt me inside and I’m not sure I will ever be okay with that.