Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It's's fresh...(some of) it's vegan friendly...and (some of) it's gluten free! looks Chinese...with those fierce terracotta horses...large hanging lanterns...pressed tofu...wood ear mushrooms...and chopsticks. acts Chinese, reminding you that soy sauce is China's salt and hot sauce is China's pepper. 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:

Or 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?


Karin said...

Hilarious and so true!

myimaginaryblog said...

Also, if you go there on Valentine's Day, be sure to get a reservation, because it turns out that, unlike 95% of local establishments (including chains) they will actually accept reservations on Valentine's Day. And if you don't have one then everyone who does will eat before you.

Or so I imagine.

(This is not meant to be taken as a suggestion that you should go there on Valentine's Day, unless you're just curious and wanting to know what all the buzz is about, in which case, more power to you, but don't forget about the reservation. Also, did I mention you might want to have a reservation? I mean, yeah, it's your life, waste it away waiting hours to eat faux-Chinese food if you want to, but don't by any means ever say I didn't warn you.)

myimaginaryblog said...

P.S. I just noticed all the new stuff in your sidebar snippets, and wanted to thank you for brightening my morning. I think CTR-ra is my fave, but green eyes from energy drinks is pretty fabulous, too.

Brooke said...

You are officially my hero. "Hey, P.F., China is not in Europe." I love this blog!

On a semi-related sidenote ... I won a gift certificate to California Pizza Kitchen the other day and splurged on an appetizer. CPK is owned by the same company as P.F. Chang's so I thought the wraps would be similar ... total disappointment and REALLY spicy. I'm sticking with the pizza next time.

Seriously, so blessed! said...

oh my gosh I LOVE P.F. CHANGS!

orientals rock.

missOlea said...

Hi there,

I always love your comments on TAMN's blog, so I've started stalking your too. I hope you don't mind! (PS - It's brilliant)

Token Asian Friend said...

Karin-YOU are hilarious and true!

myimaginaryblog-my husband and I make it a goal to never go out Valentines night. Frustration and stress do not equal romance.

Brooke-I've never been to CPK...but if I do go, I won't order the wraps :) Unlike every other Asian, I don't do spicy. Thanks for the warning!

TAMN-I figured as much...


michellejohnnie said...

Me likey lettuce wraps even if they are not authentic chinese. They have identity issues!

EAV said...

So, I'm totally blog stalking, but I was looking the Lee's blog and I thought your blog name was awesome so I had to check it out. I loved your PF Changs' post and I go through the same thing with Sid.

Tammy said...

Hey! I found your blog from TAMN's comment section, too.

Haha...P.F. Changs. Years ago (ok, 2 years ago), a guy told me that he was going to take me there on our first date. I had never been to P.F. Changs in my life, so I was curious. Imagine my disappointment when I realized that it was just Chinese takeout style food served on ceramic plates instead of styrofoam takeout boxes. :-P

Brian and Janette said...

And just what, exactly, is that item that you suggest we don't eat? And the other wrapped item too, for that matter? And true Chinese cuisine or not, PF's lettuce wraps are divine! Funny story about the PF Changs in our's in a plaza with lots of yuppety restaurants. Hubby and I had never eaten there before and we decided we'd eat there to celebrate my graduation from nursing school...when we arrived, we saw that they offered valet parking and we quickly turned ourselves around. Being barely graduated college students, we certainly couldn't afford to eat at a place that offered such niceties! But we vowed to eat there once I got my first pay check...and then we proceeded to laugh at ourselves when we saw that it wasn't as expensive as we thought it was going to be.

Token Asian Friend said...

Admittedly, the lettuce wraps are good.

I just think it's funny that their most popular and signature item is not even Chinese food.

I have been in conversations where people ask me about the Asian food I know how to cook, and then they ask if I know how to make Lettuce wraps.

The stuff wrapped in bamboo leaves and tied with a string is glutenous (sticky) rice with pork, shrimp, salty egg, peanuts, dried shredded meat, or pretty much anything the cook wants to add to it. It is traditionally eaten during China's Dragon Boat Festival.

The little round things wrapped in leaves are called betel nut. It's a drug (stimulant) that also stains your mouth orange or red (juices are spit, not swallowed). Very attractive. And, very against the WoW.

Tammy said...

The glutenous rice could also be filled with sweetened bean paste and then steamed. It's pretty yummy. I just had some earlier. :-P

little ms. sassy shelby said...

I just found your blog (from TAMN's comments) and I am crying from this post. You are hilarious! I don't have any Asian friend's in for real life. Can I claim you as my blog token Asian friend?

Karen said...

interestingly enough... I'm a token white girl living in Korea.

They do wrap meat in lettuce here, and they have the most beautiful pieces of lettuce. Perfectly formed. Not a tear along an edge. . . I don't know how they have such nice lettuce.

told you you were gonna get popular enough to start advertising/making $