Note: EatCookExplore was a guest of PF Chang’s
My first encounter with American Chinese chain PF Chang’s was in one of the mega malls in Dubai. We popped in there for a quick meal in between shopping.
It took them a few years before a branch opened in Covent Garden, just steps away from Leicester Square. Judging by the queues and the full dining room, it is quite popular in London. The crowd was a mix of locals on a night out and tourists.
On a recent mid week night, we sat by the bar, slightly away from the open kitchen as my friend’s eyes were watering from something, maybe the fumes. It is loud from the music and conversations bouncing off the hard surfaces.
The menu is partly Chinese as the name suggest but there were dishes with influences from all over East Asia. Cherry-picking popular dishes that appeal to the masses must be a surefire way to succeed.
Our helpful waitress suggested that we try all their best sellers. So we ordered the Dynamite Shrimp, Asian rib eye steak, grilled lemongrass lamb chops with sides of aubergines and fried rice.
The drinks menu is dominated by cocktails, including barrel-aged cocktails which everyone seemed to be ordering. We followed suit. As we wait, we see a waitress balancing 6 identical plates of chicken wings to a nearby table. Obviously one of the favourites for the regulars.
Service is brisk and the food arrived all together, swamping out little two-seater table. Taking out time, we nibbled a bit from the prawn dish, a spoonful of fried rice, a slice of beef and repeat. Don’t expect refined cooking but it is done well. Properly seasoned, highly flavoured for maximum crowd appeal. The fried rice is very well done as were the aubergines, which I am going to try to reproduce at home.
The Dynamite Shrimp is a dish of crispy fried prawns doused in a fiery sauce , served in a very instagrammable martini glass. It’s moreish but is really spicy.
Both the meat dishes had been marinaded and grilled well, the lamb chop very tender. Only the Handmade shrimp & lobster spring roll was a let down, a bit soggy and flavourless.
They seemed to have brought over the American style of service as the wait staff were constantly at our elbows asking if the meal was alright. I do like attentive service but this was a bit too much.
The choices from the dessert menus were way too heavy for me so I opted for a sorbet and my friend had athe flourless chocolate cake which turned out to be a giant slab of chocolate mousse. Perfect for chocolate lovers.
PF Chang’s seems to have perfected the recipe for casual Asian dining and are seen to be defying the eating out trend in London. With an approachable menu, affordable prices and tasty Asian inspired dishes, it is a simple winning formula. Don’t forget that it is an American Chinese chain so don’t compare it to Chinese restaurants in Chinatown as they are offering a different experience.
Located in buzzy Covent Garden and in the middle of theatreland, it would be a great choice for a pre-theatre meal or a late-night after booze stop. As we were leaving at about 10ish, another big group was being seated. Long may their popularity rein.
P.F. Chang’s Asian Table
10 Great Newport St,
London WC2H 7JA
Tel: 01923 555161
Opening times: Sun-Thurs 8am-12M (Thurs -1am) Fri-Sat 9am-1am