Sunday, November 23, 2008

P.F. Chang's China Bistro: Return Visits

Banana Spring Rolls once again! How could I resist?

After my first excellent experience at P.F. Chang's China Bistro, I have since returned twice to check out more of their menu. My return visits have been a bit of a mixed bag, though much of it is likely due to the fact that the restaurant is still very new.

The Peking Dumplings ($5.50) appetizer had four, pan fried dumplings filled with plenty of ground pork & vegetables. They were quite tasty with a nice mix of textures and flavors. A good choice for an appetizer. The Northern Style Spare Ribs ($8.50) are wok-braised ribs served with a five spice salt. The ribs were tender, meaty, flavorful and easily came off the bone. Another good choice. The Sichuan Flatbread with Chicken ($7) is like a quessadilla though the flatbread is more like an Indian paratha or chapati than a tortilla. It was an ok dish, though nothing memorable and I would not order it again.

I also enjoyed Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps and they were once again delicious! Many of the customers at the other tables also seem to have ordered the lettuce wraps. It is obviously a very popular dish and I understand why.

The Chang's Spicy Chicken ($13) is a plate of cubes of lightly dusted white-meat chicken that was stir-fried in a sweet Sichuan sauce. This is actually a fairly hot and spicy dish and was extremely flavorful, a nice blend of sweet and heat. As it is not fried, it is a lighter dish, much better than a dish like General Gao's chicken. It also comes with a bowl of either white or brown rice.

The Lemongrass Prawns with Garlic Noodles ($16) has several quite large prawns, with garlic noodles, with a savory lemongrass sauce. Though it was flavorful, the prawns were a bit overcooked. The noodles also seemed a bit overcooked as well, having a slightly mushy texture to them. On another visit, I also tried their Garlic Noodles ($6.50) which were tossed with garlic and chili peppers, and accompanied by slivers of cucumber. Though I enjoyed their taste, they too seemed a bit overcooked and slightly mushy. As the noodles were similarly cooked on two different occasions, it seems that is their standard method. They would be even better if they were a bit more al dente.

Service was ok, with a couple minor issues which seem mainly due to the newness of the restaurant as well as some inexperienced help. The restaurant has been very busy since its opening and it may have been a bit overwhelmed. There certainly are some very professional and experienced servers at the restaurant but there also seem to be some who are not as comfortable or experienced. These are problems that can be worked out in time but which could take away from your dining experience right now.

I still do recommend this restaurant but like most new places, they do need to work out a few kinks. No one can expect perfection from any restaurant open for only a couple weeks. I will return there again, and hope that each time I do return, it improves. And I will be sure to report back to my readers.

P.S. I did have the Banana Spring Rolls again and they were just as fantastic as the first time!

P.F. Chang's China Bistro
210 Andover Street
Peabody, MA
Phone: 978-326-2410


Dani said...

Wonderful! So many times, chain restaurants escape our reviews, because they aren't "boho" enough or classy enough... But, truth be told, there are tons of great chains out there that deserve our respect. I think more people need to review "chains."

Richard Auffrey said...

Thanks Dani. I do have respect for some chain restaurants, and definitely review the ones I enjoy. It would be nice to see other such reviews as well. I was amused though when the Boston Globe did a review of the new Hooters in Saugus.