It's hip...it's fresh...(some of) it's vegan friendly...and (some of) it's gluten free!
....it looks Chinese...with those fierce terracotta horses...large hanging lanterns...pressed tofu...wood ear mushrooms...and chopsticks.
...it acts Chinese, reminding you that soy sauce is China's salt and hot sauce is China's pepper.
...it even sounds Chinese...mapo, chengdu, sichuan, chowfun, oolang, moogoo, dofu, lomein, dali, mushu, kungpao...
But is P.F. Changs a Chinese Restaurant?
Let's look at the evidence:
1) Lettuce wraps (one of their most popular items): Nope, not even Chinese. Chinese don't wrap things in lettuce. They cook lettuce. If you ask a Chinese person for something wrapped in a leaf, they will probably give you this:
(I suggest you don't eat that)
2) Great Wall of Chocolate? If a Chinese person were to suggest this rich, decadent dessert to be on a menu, he would lose face and dishonor his whole family. Now, if you offered a Great Wall of Red Bean Paste with dehydrated egg yolk covered with a flaky crust wrapped in rice paper, THAT would be the dessert to make the entire Middle Kingdom proud.
3) They call themselves a "China Bistro," which is a conflicting statement because "bistro" means "a small, modest, European-style restaurant or cafe." Hey, P.F., China is not in Europe. China is very much the opposite of Europe.
4) They are not cheap. Chinese food is supposed to be cheap. Don't you remember that episode of "The Office?"
(not a direct quote, but you get the idea)
Michael: So, what should we do for dinner?
Jan: Maybe Chinese.
Michael: I was thinking we should go cheap.
Jan: Chinese was my cheap suggestion, Michael.
P.F. Changs, I don't know how you rose above the stigma that holds other Chinese restaurants down, but kudos to you. You have single-handedly brought life, class, and respect back to Chinese cuisine.
And, on that note, I would like an order of lettuce wraps, s'il vous plait?