It feels good to be back online after losing power for a few days from the crazy hurricane-style storm that hit the north east a couple of weekends ago. The funny thing was that during that storm, with trees falling and power lines snapping, I decided it was a spectacular time to try P.F. Chang's new gluten free menu. I mean, why not, right?
I visit P.F. Chang's pretty regularly these days because there is one close to where I live and because they offer a gluten free menu. I forgive the strange Americanized additions they make to their dishes, such as tomatoes in their Singapore Street Noodles, because it's pretty impossible to find good gluten free Chinese food in most cities. Although, the calorie count that they've added to menus recently is seriously making me reconsider my visits there, but that's another story.
I've been following the unveiling of the new gf dishes on Twitter via P.F. Chang's very active, and actually very good Twitter channel. I give them kudos for listening to customers, and major kudos for engaging the gluten free community. They've added several new dishes to their gluten free menu including Beef with Broccoli, Sichuan Beef and Mongolian Beef. I usually always order the Chang's Spicy Chicken or Ginger Chicken with Broccoli, so the addition of beef sounded great to me, especially considering how limited the gf menu used to be. Now, if they just added some pork dishes, this Spanish girl would be over the moon. ;)
During my recent visit, I tried the Sichuan Beef and the Mongolian Beef. I'll start with the Mongolian Beef, overall the dish was good, but not something I'd order again. To start, they added way too many scallions to the dish, and I normally love scallions, but I am not a fan of soft, overcooked scallions. I think the dish would be a lot better if the scallions were fresh and diced, versus the large bits of cooked pieces. Plus, I'd add something crunchy, like water chestnuts, because there wasn't anything else aside from the beef to give the dish some texture. I know that PF Chang's is really good about accommodating requests like additions/subtractions, but I'd honestly rather not have to tweak my order if I could help it.
The Sichuan Beef has all the right flavors and textures to be really yummy, but the dish got a super fail from me when I took a bite and it was mostly julienned celery and a small amount of crispy beef. I'm just going to go ahead and say that celery should never be present in Chinese food, like ever. I'm not a fan of celery to begin with so I was really not into the fact that the majority of the dish was celery. It would be far, far better if they just got rid of the celery altogether and substituted some Chinese cabbage, bean sprouts and added more carrots. I give them a passing grade for the spicy sauce and crispy beef though, I enjoyed that.
I have to commend a chain as large as P.F. Chang's for going the extra mile and accommodating gluten free customers. They have some kinks to work out (get rid of that celery!), but overall it's nice to have a gf option when I'm craving Chinese, even if it's a completely Americanized version of it.