I first visited P.F. Chang’s China Bistro several years ago when they opened a new location in Eastview Mall in Victor, NY. Recently, I returned to this Asian food restaurant for lunch. Although it is a chain restaurant with locations in 19 countries worldwide, it felt more like a small family owned eatery.
Located in a grouping of restaurants in a large, upscale shopping mall, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro stands out among the crowd. The only Asian-themed establishment in the group, it offers something other than the standard Italian food or bar atmosphere. A large rotary-style entrance door seems an odd choice for a restaurant, yet there it was. Interestingly, valet parking is available – seemingly out-of-place at a shipping mall. The building is quite impressive, almost regal.
Like many Asian restaurants, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro is decorated in a burgundy and black color palette. Both the lobby and the dining room feature panoramic murals of dessert-themed scenes (think camels). In addition, the far wall in the dining room displays an eclectic collection of Asian art, including, vases, pottery, and ceramics. Flanking either side of the main dining area, you’ll find two almost life-size statues of Asian heroes.
One side of the dining room wall offered semi-circular, black leather booths, perched upon a platform. The balance of the seating included a central area of more elegant off-white booths, surrounded by tables and chairs on the outer areas of the dining room. The lobby area also featured a small seating area at the bar, where a few patrons enjoyed late afternoon drinks.
The music was audible but not memorable. I do remember, however, feeling a cold draft, most likely due to the odd choice of a front entry door. Finally, the dining room was overly dark, due to a dark color palette as well as dim lighting. At 3 pm in the afternoon, we don’t need mood lighting.
We arrived at 3 pm, with an hour remaining for the lunch service, so we ordered off the less extensive (and less expensive) lunch menu. The 15 lunch menu options all included a lunch-portioned entrée, and steamed white or brown rice, along with a choice of a cup of soup or a mixed green salad (which the waiter described as mostly iceberg lettuce). The soup choices included either Egg Drop Soup or Hot and Sour Soup. Fried rice may be substituted for steamed rice on the lunch menu for a $1 additional charge.
The dinner menu at P.F. Chang’s China Bistro is quite extensive. Sections include
- Starters ($4.95-$9.95)
- Soups ($2.95 per cup, $6.95-$7.95 per bowl)
- Salads ($8.95-$12.95)
- Sides ($2.95 small, $4.95 large)
- Chang’s Specialties (Chicken from $13.95 – $14.95, Vegetarian from $8.95 – $10.95, Beef from $14.95 – $15.95, and Seafood from $15.95 – $24.95)
- Wok Classics ($12.95 – $18.95)
- Noodles and Rice ($7.95 – $15.95)
- Desserts ($2.95 – $8.95)
The menu shows which items are House Specialties or Guest Favorites, to help you make an informed decision. Also, any of the wok-fried chicken or shrimp entrees may be ordered as steamed, for a lighter option. Certain items are gluten-free or can be made gluten-free and will be served on a logo-plate to denote the dietary restriction.
I eagerly ordered Shrimp with Lobster Sauce ($11.95) with steamed brown rice and a coup of Hot and Sour Soup. The shrimp was tossed with Chinese black beans, peas, scallions, Asian mushrooms and egg. I happily enjoyed this dish. The shrimp was cooked just right, so that it wasn’t tough and the lobster sauce was tangy and flavorful. The brown rice wasn’t too sticky and the black beans were a nice addition.
My dining companion, Eileen, ordered Chang’s Kung Pao Shrimp (a House Specialty, $11.95), with steamed brown rice, and a cup of Hot and Sour Soup. The shrimp was bathed in a spicy Sichuan chili sauce with peanuts, celery, scallions and red chili peppers. She said that the amount of heat was just right and that she would definitely order it again.
We both chose the Hot and Sour Soup, which was a great start to the meal. It was extra spicy and steaming hot. We drove about 30 minutes on a cold January day to get to P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, so a cup of hot soup was a treat to these travelers.
The photo of the Hot and Sour Soup shown here is from their website. Our’s was quite tasty, but wasn’t as elaborately plated.
Don’t forget the Trio of Sauces which were delivered to the table by our server! These include Hot Mustard Sauce, Chili Sauce and Soy Sauce. The trick is to blend them together to make a customized sauce with just like right mix of heat, sweet and tang. I prefer a hotter sauce. You can keep the mustard sauce though. None of that for me; it’s far too tangy for my taste buds.
We both found the lunch portion to be enough for an early dinner, especially with the cup of soup which was included in the price. Neither of us had any leftovers though.
I have to admit though, that I missed the crunchy, deep-fried noodles that are usually served gratis, at the start of the meal at most Chinese restaurants. I like to nosh on those as I ponder the menu and chat with friends over hot tea. Also, the sweet dipping sauce which accompanies them is the best.
The service was good and we didn’t encounter any issues with our server or any other employees. Granted, there were only a handful of other diners in the restaurant at this time before the dinner rush.
We were politely greeted by a hostess at the hostess stand just inside the entrance to P.F. Chang’s China Bistro. She asked how many people were in our party and then handed us off to another employee who seated us. Our waiter came over within just a minute or two and introduced himself. He was knowledgeable about the menu, and easily answered our questions about it.
After we placed our order, our soup was delivered quickly, Our food followed not too long after. Our waiter offered us the Trio of Sauces, and explained what each one was. Payment was a snap, as we left our payment on the table for our server. Upon leaving, the hostess kindly directed helped us find the mall entrance and then thanked us for our business and wished us a good afternoon.
All in all, our late lunch visit to P.F. Chang’s China Bistro was a pleasant experience. I would definitely return and I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys fine Asian food. I like to think of it as “gourmet” Asian, although I am sure that the food purists would disagree with me.
However, it is decidedly more pricey that your typical Chinese restaurant. If that is a concern for you, then I suggest that you do what we did – go later in the afternoon to take advantage of the lunch menu prices (till 4 pm on weekdays), but still get the experience and decent portion size of an early dinner.
If you go:
820 Eastview Mall
Victor, NY 14564
Business Hours: Mon-Thurs and Sun: 11am – 10pm, Fri and Sat: 11am-11pm
Meals Served: Lunch, Dinner
Children’s Menu: Yes – age 12 and under, served with a kid’s drink
Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Handicap Accessible: Yes – separate entryway
Requires Reservations: No
Table Service: Yes
Take Out: Yes and curbside pick-up
Outdoor Seating: Yes, patio weather permitting
Parking: Free and plentiful in the mall lot
Valet Service: Yes
Bar Seating: Yes
Coat Check: No
Date opened: 2007
Date visited: Monday, January 12, 2015 for a late lunch