P.F. Chang’s China Bistro is an upscale westernized Chinese food restaurant chain with locations around the USA and international restaurants in the Middle East and Mexico. Because there aren’t any locations in Canada, we just had to try it to see why it’s so popular.
We visited the Mesa, Arizona location on Superstition Springs Blvd. Initially, we noticed the majestic eleven-feet-tall white horses gracing the entrance to this restaurant, which they say symbolize the original Forbidden City in China built for China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huangdi. Inside, the restaurant’s decor combines influences of Chinese culture with a panoramic, hand-painted mural depicting 12th century China, while several terra-cotta warriors stand guard.
We dined on a weekday afternoon for lunch and sat outside in 100 degree heat (yes, that’s 40’C) – ’cause we’re crazy like that. They crank the air-con up in most places down here, so you’re either freezing cold, or HOT. My reasoning? We’d be back in the rain and cold in Vancouver soon, so we may as well take advantaged of feeling the heat of the Valley of the Sun!
Iced Tea and Soft Drinks come with complimentary refills for $2.50 per glass. Their iced-tea was absolutely fantastic. It was unsweetened, mango flavored brewed black tea. Iced-tea is generally served unsweetened in the good ol’ US of A, but if you order this refreshing beverage in Canada, it will almost always contained a sugar. This particular tea had so much flavor that it didn’t need anything added.
Served Monday through Saturday until 4pm, you can order their lunch special which are all under ten dollars. Choose one main, plus steamed white or brown rice (or substitute fried rice for a dollar extra) with a choice of Egg Drop Soup, Hot & Sour Soup, or Mixed Greens Salad. We opted for the Egg Drop Soup – P.F. Chang’s version of the traditional soup with julienne carrots and green onion. This soup was salty and extremely thick as if they used entirely too much cornstarch to thicken the broth.
Hot & Sour Soup – Chicken, tofu, bamboo shoots, egg and mushrooms, balanced with hot white pepper and vinegar. Its broth was also intensely salty and thick and almost tasted like there was some sort of barbecue sauce added to the soup. It did contain plenty of tofu cubes and bamboo shoots though.
Pepper Steak ($9.75) – Marinated flank steak tossed with yellow onion, red and green bell peppers in a garlic and black pepper sauce. Veggies were fresh and the beef was tender, but again, very salty.
Sweet & Sour Chicken ($8.95) – Stir-fried with pineapples, bell peppers, onions, candied ginger in a sweet and sour sauce. Not surprisingly, this too was incredibly salty but also extremely sweet. The brown rice, however, was cooked perfectly and oh so healthy. The glaze was a good consistency and the chicken morsels still retained their crispiness even with all the sauce.
This restaurant is very popular down here. We’re not sure why. It’s essentially Panda Express in a nicer environment. If you’re accustomed to eating Chinese food in Hong Kong (or Canada’s equivalent, Richmond, BC) and placing your order in Cantonese, then this restaurant is not for you. But if you love extra salt and sugar with your sweet ‘n sour pork served to you by Caucasians, then you’ll love this place!