Thursday, October 16, 2008

PF Chang and Pei Wei

These two restaurants may not meet everyone’s criteria for authentic Asian fare, but for someone like me who likes her ethnic dishes Americanized, they’re the bomb. The upscale décor and festive atmosphere of PF Chang’s makes it a perfect place for a celebration meal. Just make sure that you don’t mind sharing or eating off of everyone’s plate because those dishes are meant to be shared. For appetizers, try the lettuce wraps and deep fried green beans. The beans are dipped in tempura batter before frying and are served with a perfectly balanced slightly hot chile dip. You’ll enjoy the interaction of filling iceberg lettuce with a little or a lot of the savory minced chicken and noodles, you’ll want a lot! I didn’t have the courage to try the sauce our waiter mixed up at the table because I a m a wimp when it comes to heat, however, Nick enjoyed this with this lettuce wraps. The hot and sour soup at PF Chang is the best I have ever had. The broth is dark and rich with mushrooms, noodles and of course, tofu. It’s just hot enough to tickle your tongue, but not so hot that you’ll need extra iced tea. We all ordered from the lunch menu. I had almond and cashew chicken with brown rice, which was savory with lots of crispy steamed veggies. My friend Beth loves the citrus grilled salmon. The regular servings are very large, so be prepared to share; however, I found the lunch portions to be plenty, especially with the soup. PF Chang is at Crabtree Mall and Streets of South Point, (across the street from the main mall) so expect it to be crowded at usual meal times. In additions to PF Chang, I enjoy their casual dining cousin, Pei Wei. Pei Wei has a limited menu and you place your order at a counter, but these differences do not affect the quality of food. The beef teriyaki lo main bowl remains my favorite entrée. The sweetly seasoned beef sits atop a generous serving of lo mein and vegetables. The recipe for the hot and sour soup and the lettuce wraps is the same as PF Chang. Crab Rangoon and spring rolls complete the appetizer choices. Whether you dine in or take out, Pei Wei will more than satisfy your craving for Asian dishes.