Wednesday, 16 September 2015
PF Chang's Dubai Mall Menu Review JK1236
PF Chang's at Dubai Mall
This is the first time I ever stepped into a PF Chang's China Bistro. After a number of prior encounters of culture shock elsewhere long ago, it's not my instinct to eat 鬼老唐餐 kwai lo Chinese food.
PF Chang's decor is typical of American casual dining with some clichéd "Chinese" touches. Lanterns, oversized ceramic vases, larger-than-life terracotta horses, Chinese scroll paintings all add to the atmosphere. Still, PF Chang's decor, layout and ambiance are tasteful, welcoming and comfortable. The music in the background was easy listening American pop, I think.
This evening I relearned the lesson to always recheck my assumptions and challenge my own biases - I have to admit that there are quite a few dishes that I will come back for in PF Chang's extensive menu.
Dynamite Shrimp (AED47 / SGD18.80) - one of PF Chang's signature best sellers. Crunchy mid size shrimps shelled and wrapped in quite thick crispy batter. Deep fried to a crisp and bathed in a thick creamy savoury sauce with very mild spicy notes. The shrimp lacked crustacean flavour or it was masked by assertive flavours in the sauce.
Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wrap (AED44 / SGD17.6) - diced chicken and water chestnut wok fried in a mild savoury sweet sauce. Eaten with a cup of crunchy fresh lettuce leaf. Refreshing. Nice balance of flavours and textures. Tender flavoursome diced chicken with crunch from the lettuce and water chestnut. A familiar dish that is strangely seldom seen in Singapore/ Malaysia restaurants these days. Kudos to PF Chang's for serving this classic - this is a must try here.
Crab Wantons (AED49 / SGD19.60) - finely minced crab meat with peppers, onions and cream cheese wrapped in wontan skin and fried to a crisp. The thick wontan lacked egginess and was a little dry and hard. The crab filling was also dry and lacked crustacean flavour.
VIP Duck (AED85 / SGD34) - steamed then grilled duck breast and leg. Mainly sweet balanced with savouriness and a hint of smokey flavour from the marinate. I like it that the duck is from a cold clime (Canadian) so it has a nice layer of fat with slight natural duck flavour which I like.
The duck meat was smooth, tender and moist. A likeable duck dish in a style not seen in Singapore or Malaysia and so a possible unique selling point.
Chang's Spicy Chicken (AED55 / SGD22) - cubes of white meat battered and fried then tossed in a wok with savoury tangy sauce. A little too salty for me and the white meat was quite dry and bland. (Nope, it is not spicy at all for most Singapore / Malaysia taste buds. Most of us tasted our first hot chilli pepper before elementary school ;-p )
Crispy Honey Shrimp (AED84 / SGD33.60) - plump juicy prawns wrapped in batter and smothered in a mildly savoury sweet sauce. The juicy crunch and crustacean flavour had me reaching for quite a few of these. Addictive like crunchy nuts.
Oolong Marinated Sea Bass (AED134 / SGD53.60) - thick slab of Chilean "sea bass" (Patagonian toothfish often sold as "cod" in Singapore) seared to a deep golden brown slightly caramelised outside while the white flesh was still juicy and buttery tender. Natural fish flavour balanced with savouriness from the outside. I didn't actually taste the oolong tea flavour or smelled the fragrance though (perhaps because I was overwhelmed by the torrent of dishes to taste).
The watery sauce which ponded at the bottom of the plate was a little too salty for my preference, so I avoided that. The slightly bitter green spinach leaves added another flavour and texture to the dish. I have never seen fish plated this way - it was quite pretty. One of my favourite dishes this evening.
Wok Charred Beef (AED69 / SGD27.60) - slices of beef were wok fried in a savoury sweet sauce with spicy notes. The beef slices were quite dry and chewy. The beefy flavour was masked by the assertive sauce.
Mongolian Beef (AED71 / SGD28.40) - fared better than wok charred beef in terms of texture but only slightly - softer and more juicy. The sauce lacked aroma and the beef did not have beefy flavour.
Chang's Asian BBQ Short Rib (AED125 / SGD50) - fall-off-the-bone tender juicy beef short rib in a savoury sweet sauce. This beefy favourite is a must order for rib lovers.
Lo Mein Noodles (AED51 / SGD20.40) - yellow noodles tossed in a wok in a savoury sauce with a little sweetness. The noodle were soft and limp, and lacked "wok hei". The heap of noodles and small strips of chicken stuck together in a starchy clump. The dish also lacked aroma.
Garlic Noodles (AED29 / SGD11.60) - the soft limp starchy heap lacked aroma and the garlic flavour was very weak (despite it's name).
Chang's Fried Rice (AED44 / SGD17.60) - the rice was clumpy in some parts. Lacked aroma and flavour was weak. The shrimps, chicken and beef were quite dry and lacked flavour.
Singapore Fried Noodles (AED48 / SGD19.20) - wet limp rice vermicelli. Tossed in savoury tangy sauce. Lacked aroma and ingredients were weak in flavour.
Despite it's name, this dish is not invented in Singapore and I have yet to find it in Singapore restaurant menus. I have tried it in various restaurants in Western countries (as it is very common) and it comes in different variations. Personally, I like the dry, aromatic type fried with curry powder found in Canada.
Banana Spring Rolls (AED39 / SGD15.60) - fresh banana wrapped in deep fried crispy skin - a banana spring roll of sorts. Served with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with a sweet syrup.
Interesting layers of sweetness and texture (crispy wrap, soft banana, and melt-in-your-mouth ice cream) with warm and cold contrast. Nice sweet way to wrap up the dinner.
Overall, I had a good experience at PF Chang's and felt it is especially appealing for families and gatherings. Service was excellent - friendly, attentive and responsive. Staff were knowledgeable and briefed to explain the dishes to customers.
PF Chang's at Mall of the Emirates
I believe the Muslim community would welcome PF Chang's in Singapore / Malaysia. From constant queries from Muslim readers, I sensed that the demand for Halal Chinese food is high but few restaurants offer it at the moment.
PF Chang's price point is premium and at this level, there are many established competitors offering ingredients, aroma, flavours, dishes and execution more appealing to finicky Singaporean Chinese diners spoilt for choice in a crowded market.
Having said that, there are several unique PF Chang's dishes like the Oolong Marinated Sea Bass, Chicken Lettuce Wrap, and VIP Duck which I will make a special visit to PF Chang's for. I am sure, there are many other delicious dishes that I have yet to discover in PF Chang's extensive menu.
Disclosure: This was an invited food tasting.
Restaurant name: P.F. Chang's China Bistro
Address: The Dubai Mall, Waterfall Promenade, Lower Level
GPS: 25.199367, 55.278901
Hours: 11:00am to 11:30pm
Tel: +971 4 4190209
Date visited: 13 Sep 2015
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