LONDON | As hackneyed as it may be, you just can’t beat a good ol’ Chinese cuisine. Enter casual Chinese-American chain PF Chang’s who offer the cuisine with a hand crafted contemporary twist. We were invited to visit their first London restaurant, and were keen to see if P.F Chang’s could rise above the offering of a typical chain. Nestled in the corner of Chinatown on Leicester Square, the dining room décor resembles that of a modern swanky European forgoing ornate Chinese decorations one would usually find in a Chinese restaurant. Less Shanghai, more Manhattan.
The elegant, concise menu includes a variety of favourites like calamari and Singapore noodles, with standout dishes such as their famed ‘always imitated, never duplicated’ Dynamite Shrimp and Asian Marinated Rib Eye Beef. This is complemented by a pretty ambitious drinks menu with an extensive list of cocktails, beers and wines and their cake-centric dessert menu aptly titled ‘Our Pastry Lab’.
My guest and I kicked off with Crispy Calamari and The Original Dynamite Shrimp. The shrimp arrived in an oversized martini style glass filled with large crispy tempura battered prawns drenched in what can only be described as a glorified ‘burger sauce’, of what was actually a spicy siracha aioli sauce. A real winner that lived up to its infamy! As a self proclaimed calamari connoisseur, the Crispy Calamari dish unfortunately didn’t quite hit the spot. Though beautifully presented, the actual calamari meat was overpowered by the stiffness of the heavy batter.
Next up were the Grilled Lemongrass Lamb Chops, Honey Chicken and Singapore Street Noodles. Marinated for 24 hours in soy, lemongrass and sesame oil, the lamb chops were plump with a juicy, chewy texture. The honey chicken was extraordinary! Lightly battered in a tangy honey sauce, the chicken was crispy, succulent ticking all the essential boxes – aroma, texture and taste. The rice noodles were glorious – a generous portion of fresh chunky pieces of prawns, chicken and crunchy vegetables.
Dessert was a large slice of the sultry flourless chocolate cake served with fresh cherries in a cherry sauce with a refreshing ice cold serving of cherry sorbet. The Banana spring rolls dessert was drizzled with caramel-vanilla and served with coconut pineapple ice cream. Beautiful to look at, but failed to leave a lasting impression taste wise.
Despite the odd miss, P.F Chang’s does enough to stand out from the crowd. The restaurant’s artisanal approach to Chinese cuisine is noteworthy, making it the perfect spot for those looking for affordable Chinese cuisine with a twist, that pays homage to a rich traditional culinary culture.
P.F Chang’s (Leicester Square)
10 Great Newport Street
London WC2H 7JA
Telephone: 019 2355 5161
Sun – Wed: 11:00am to 11:00pm
Thu – Sat: 11:00am to 12:00am