Sunday, August 10, 2008

PF Chang's China Bistro, Gardens Mall

I'd almost reached the decision to stop reviewing chain restaurants and was going to restrict my dining opportunities to smaller, more intimate artisan establishments but what the heck, Dr. Dave wanted Mongolian Beef and as it was his birthday the day before I went along with it.

PF Changs is consistently busy with a crowd of trendies & oldies alike. It's not your average Chinese restaurant - don't expect to see noodles & duck sauce the minute you sit down, although they'll grudgingly drag them out if you ask. I wouldn't bother if I were you, they're a greasy, crumbly mess; better to order some steamed dumplings ($7) as we did. A hefty chunk of minced shrimp in a light steamed wrapper, no stodgy shrimp-esque fillers here - a pure seafood hit. Mimi was in a noodle mood so had her favorite chicken lo mein ($9); kind of doughy for my taste but she liked them. There's no 'kids' menu here (good thing too) so expect to either share or divvy up for an adult dish. Dr. Dave had his usual, Mongolian Beef ($15) cooked extra crispy with extra sauce. Extra Extra... so high maintenance! The beef is one of the best dishes on the menu here, really flavorful with enough heat to add interest without taking off the roof of your mouth. I had the Hot Fish ($15) which I'd never had before and at the server's suggestion had it cooked extra crispy (hmmm.... has she been in cahoots with Dr. Dave?) It's billed as 'fish of the day' but the server said, 'usually its tilapia' which is the fish of every day in Florida. It was warm rather than 'hot' and fragrant rather than the billed 'spicy' but then I have a high tolerance for chili. This was to the benefit of the dish as the milder fire - more of a smoulder actually - allowed the spice & flavor of the fish to shine.
PF Chang's; its Chinese Jim, but not as we know it.

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