P.F. Chang’s arrives in Leicester Square
Across the pond, over in the States, P.F. Chang’s is a household name synonymous with mouthwatering Asian dishes.
This August the popular US brand arrived in Covent Garden, as featured in our list of newly opened halal restaurants in London. As expected, the announcement that they served halal chicken created quite the buzz in the halal community!
Yes, we’re aware that we are a little late to the party but we decided to bide our time until the meat was halal too before checking it out. As soon as this was confirmed, no time was wasted in calling up to make a reservation. And so on a rainy evening, we found ourselves stepping out of Leicester Square Station to finally see what everyone had been talking about.
Upon entering, the restaurant was teeming with diners. All seemed pretty satisfied judging by the convivial sounds of evening conversation, which we hoped set the tone for a good evening (unlike the heavy rain earlier).
Now either the waiter heard our stomachs grumbling unashamedly or the staff are very attentive – regardless, we were seated in no time and began browsing the menu. Everything looked so appetising, we wanted it all! If you have a penchant for sampling different flavours but don’t have a large appetite, we would recommend ordering a few small and large dishes to share.
With some guidance from the manager, who was very enthusiastic in signalling to us the best and most popular dishes, we ordered a mix of small plates and big plates. We couldn’t decide between the Singapore street noodles and the special fried rice but taking a peak over at the neighbouring table, the noodles looked to be a bit on the oily side. We opted for the rice and finalised our order. Then came the wait, which was perhaps even shorter than Caitlyn Kardashian’s solo reality career – in other words, super short!
The Original Chang’s chicken lettuce wraps came first; a spread of wok-seared chicken, mushrooms, green onions and water chestnuts over crispy rice sticks lettuce cups. The crunchy lettuce leaves contrasted well with the chicken, although the filling was a little dry without the hoisin sauce.
Now we really have to commend the service at P.F. Chang’s, since despite bustling with diners during the busiest dining period in the week, the efficiency of their service was not compromised. In fact, our mains came so quickly that we could hear the food sizzling before we saw it in all its well-ordained glory as pictured above: Mongolian beef, Chang’s special chicken, Grilled Lamb chops and a side of fried rice.
We were particularly eager to try the lamb chops; Steeped in soy and lemongrass marinade, they were everything the manager professed to be and more; succulent and grilled just to perfection. Simply chang-tastic!
The wok-seared Mongolian beef, which came as pieces of tender flank steak glazed in soy served with scallions and garlic, was also a real treat. The caramelised coating worked really well with the texture of the juicy beef and this was the highlight of the meal!
Chang’s chicken however, tossed in chilli paste, garlic, vinegar and sugar, fell short of our expectations. We found the sweeter elements overpowered the less overt tastes of chilli and garlic. Nevertheless, the meal overall was satisfying and the fried rice with carrots, bean sprouts, spring onions made a great accompaniment.
Everything about P.F. Chang’s , from the service to the food, was certainly vibrant. For a less hectic dining experience it is perhaps best to go when it is not so busy so that you don’t find yourself manoeuvring around tables in the tightly packed space.
The food itself was a mixed bag of goods: The portions were great, although the chicken dishes did not impress us as much as the others. We’re glad we waited it out until everything else became halal too! In hindsight, perhaps we’d have been more wooed by the insanely popular dynamite shrimp. It’s been making appearances all over our Instagram feed! The meal was also not as expensive as expected with the bill coming up to £58 including drinks for two people, so no complaints there.
Would we visit P.F. Chang’s again? Definitely to sample the dynamite shrimp. This time, we’ll try to take it easy with the mains so we have room for some of their delicious-looking desserts. Although not all the food is necessarily worth the hype, it’s certainly worth checking out. Don’t forget to review the restaurant on our website to earn some halal points!
Must – Try Dish: Mongolian Beef
Halal Status: Halal friendly, Alcohol served, Pork present
For full details of opening hours and more, click here.