P.F Chang’s for anyone who has visited the States is an extremely well-known brand for offering reliable Asian food. In fact, they’ve gone on to open up branches all across the world including Dubai and in Mexico. For their first European restaurant, they’ve picked the cosmopolitan city of London and in particular Covent Garden where tourists no doubt walk pass their restaurant front with regular frequency.
Their decor is remarkably inoffensive in a way that appeals to the upscale shopper who doesn’t want a cultural history lesson with Buddha statues and red lanterns obscuring their sightlines. The only thing that was particularly noticeable were wall etchings of demure-looking Asian ladies.
The menu you can tell straight away has been imported from the States with spellings like “chili” and dishes like jam wings and BBQ pork ribs making noticeable appearances.
I plumped for handmade lobster and shrimp spring roll, which was particularly well-portioned, but you do pay for the sheer quality of the ingredients with mouthfuls of sweet lobster claw meat very much in evidence along with a flavoursome mixture of knuckle meat and poached shrimps. It did fall apart a little too readily hence it came with a lettuce wrap so you don’t “lose” the ingredients. The Thai curry aioli really added to the rich flavours of this indulgent dish.
The menu is slightly odd for vegetarians in that there were no available dishes under the starters section but instead they were all grouped together in the vegetables and side section. We did sample a wide selection of these mini-dishes which included the addictively, fiery taste from the sambal in the Sichuan green beans and the heat from the Sriracha sauce marinated tofu bites. There was also a lightly battered cauliflower with a sweet and spicy Korean Gochujang sauce. For diners who like their flavours punchy and potent, then P.F Chang’s is absolute paradise, although for others they might find the flavours clashing in unexpected ways.
My vegetarian guest chose the stacked salad which had a mountain of healthiness such as carrots, red cabbage, endive and pea shoots which was topped up with an appetising, citrusy mandarin dressing. Did the dish feel particularly Asian? Not really. Did the flavours clash with the spicy dishes above? Yes. Was it still very much enjoyed by my vegetarian guest? Absolutely.
I opted for particularly juicy and delicately cooked lamp chops, which had been marinated for 24 hours in soy, lemongrass and sesame oil to produce a superbly irresistible finish. The flavours, the execution of the dish and the sourcing of the ingredients were all hard to fault.
P.F Chang’s isn’t about fine dining or giving you a cultural understanding of Asian food, but it does offer a reliable service with dishes that are instantly recognisable and you know will be much loved.