An American fast food chain fails to dazzle 49 Reviews
PF Chang’s is the type of place that can divide friendships. Some will abhor it. They’ll turn their nose up at the American chain. They’ll perhaps argue that the crimson, oddly hoity interior is just a ruse to distract from the very chintzy fast food on offer. Then there will be those that find this attitude pretentious and unreasonable. They’ll argue that you don’t go to a mall for fine dining, and that if you want to fill up on comfort Chinese food, PF Chang’s is the place to get it.
I know where I stand; you probably do too. I’m a food critic, after all. So no, I don’t find PF Chang’s charming, and it’s not because I’m innately opposed to fast food. It’s because the food just isn’t very good.
Desperate to give the place a chance, my date and I ordered all the items that seemed to be signature – basically, anything with a picture on the menu. We started with the obligatory steamed vegetable dumplings. These, it must be said, were among the worst I’ve ever sampled. The dumpling base was hard and slightly congealed, but that aside, the interior was oddly astringent, and was nearly tasteless aside from a slightly soapy aftertaste. I also ordered the dynamite shrimp. Though these came served in a martini glass, they couldn’t help tasting cheap. The breading was soaked with what seemed like a mix of tabasco sauce and mayonnaise. Sure, they were edible in the same absent-minded way that crisps sometimes are, but there was nothing nuanced about them. They were fried and they were hot, and beyond that they possessed little character.
Mains continued in the same vein. An order of Mongolian lamb was so bizarrely sweet that my date likened it to rice crispy treats (after she mentioned it, I realised she was right). Our other main, honey-battered shrimp, was also sweet, but bland, and very similar in structure to the dynamite shrimp starter.
Desserts were a highlight of the meal, mainly because they didn’t taste quite so synthetic. Sweet cream cheese wontons were fried and came with a caramel and vanilla drizzle (luckily that’s all it was, because the wontons were better off without it). A slice of carrot cake was enormous – easily big enough to feed four or five diners. It was moist and creamy, and while it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t thrilling either.
I’m willing to be called snotty for my stance. But I can’t help it; I don’t believe spectacularly mediocre food should be rewarded, not even with faint praise. I don’t care if Dubai is a fast food town – it shouldn’t be. There’s enough genuinely wonderful (even budget) food out there that we just don’t need the likes of PF Chang’s.
The bill (for two)
1x Dynamite shrimp Dhs42
1x Veggie dumpling Dhs22
1x Mongolian lamb Dhs49
1x Honey shrimp Dhs84
1x Cream cheese wontons Dhs25
1x Carrot cake Dhs28
Total (excluding service) Dhs250
Time Out Dubai,
Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.