Thursday, May 30, 2013

Partaking of P.F. Chang's New Summer Menu

P.F. Chang's 
61 Fortune Dr. 
Irvine, CA 92618

My parents absolutely love P.F. Chang's. So, when we were approached with the opportunity to try some of their new Summer menu items, it was an easy choice as to who would be joining us. The Irvine Spectrum location is a test kitchen for P.F. Chang's around the country and the world. We have not been back since our last visit, which you can read here. Sorry for the out of focus pictures and the even worse writing in that review. It's funny how things change in just three short years, not the writing, but at least the pictures look better.

Speaking of changes, this Irvine location recently underwent extensive renovations to the restaurant. I first noticed that the door now faces out into the center, instead of coming in through the side of the restaurant. This gives the restaurant a way more inviting feel to it, and makes it way more prominent. The inside of this P.F. Chang's is way more open now. They have a large patio in the front of the restaurant, the kitchen is now closed off, and the high ceilings really give this place a bigger feel to it.

We were here over the recent Memorial Day holiday. Meeting at the early dinner hour of 4PM, we had our pick of almost any table in the restaurant. Throughout our stay, the restaurant would have a steady stream of customers, but the restaurant was never more than half full. Most people at the Spectrum were watching one of the big holiday weekend blockbusters at the theater across from the restaurant. P.F. Chang's had plenty of staff on hand at this early dinner hour. Our waitress, Fiona, greeted us warmly, and made sure we were well taken care of throughout our stay. She took our order, and this is how it all came out of the kitchen for us.

Okay, not from the kitchen, but new on the Summer menu are two seasonal cocktails. I debated on which one to get, and settled on the Long Island Rum Tea ($9). This refreshing concoction combined Cruzan Mango, Guava and Aged Light Rums, with a fresh sour mix and a splash of cranberry. I'm not very partial to sweet drinks, but my parents really enjoyed this beverage. I would probably try the Long Island Tequila Tea on my next visit.

With this new Summer menu, P.F. Chang's is getting into the sushi game with these two offerings, the California Roll ($6.95) and a Spicy Tuna Roll ($7.50). For the two people left that do not know what goes into a California roll, it is crab, cucumber, and avocado, held in place by a sesame seed rice. The spicy tuna came with cucumber, daikon sprouts and the same sesame rice. Predictably, I enjoyed the spicy tuna out of these two rolls. It really did have a pop of flavor, and when I added the Wasabi that was provided, it really got my taste buds going. The California roll was more subdued, but with very fresh ingredients. I was pleasantly surprised by both of these rolls.

As soon as the rolls were done, our food hit the table quick. Up first is another new item, the Korean BBQ Chicken Stir Fry ($13.95). This spicy chicken stir fry came with red peppers, green beans, onions, a kimchi slaw, and a spicy red chili sauce. The sauce was what really made this dish for me. It started off kind of sweet, then when it was about to go down, the heat was released. The veggies were very fresh, the chicken was cooked well, but the sauce used here really got my attention. Not to ruin the rest of this blog post for you, but this was the best dish of the night in my opinion.

Not a new item, but one my Mom requested that we get, the Chang's Spicy Chicken ($13.95). I did not detect too much spice in this, it was more on the sweet side on this visit. This very simple dish takes chicken pieces and stir-fries them in the sweet and spicy sauce. Tender chicken, but a little too plain for my tastes.

Since my Mom got to choose a dish, it was only fair that my Dad get to choose one also. No surprise to me that he went with the Shrimp with Candied Walnuts ($15.95). His standby dish at P.F. Chang's comes with some pretty good sized shrimp in a sweet cream sauce, with candied walnuts and honeydew melon balls. The perfect dish for a warm summer day. The sauce could have been a little more prevalent here, but it did its job of coating most of the dish. The earthy taste of the walnuts went well with the sweet taste of the sauce and melon, along with the slight saltiness of the shrimp. Really a well balanced plate of flavors playing against each other.

Katie also got in on the act of picking plates here, and she waned to try the Summer Vegetable Quinoa. This interesting looking dish started with the hippest grain of the moment, toasted quinoa, then squash, tomatoes, snow peas, and a sunny side up egg are added. The only one at the table that was feeling this dish was the girl that ordered it, Katie. I did not hate it, but it kind of tasted plain to me. The egg portion was enough to keep me interested for awhile, but that did not last. My parents kind of felt the same way that I did about this plate. Not something that they would normally order.

No trip to P.F. Chang's would be complete without an order of their Dan Dan Noodles ($10.95), or as I like to call them, Chinese spaghetti. This pasta dish starts with egg noodles and ground chicken, then scallions, garlic, and chili peppers are added. This is then tossed table side. A very simple dish, but one that definitely satisfies.

For the most part, we really enjoyed the new Summer menu items at P.F. Chang's. I always like when a chain restaurant tries to change things up. It gives their customers a chance to experience something new at a place they have probably eaten at numerous times. I am also thankful that we have the P.F. Chang's test kitchen so near us, so we can be the first to try some of their latest creations. The new items were good, but it is still hard to walk into a P.F. Chang's and not order some of our old favorites though. As usual when we visit P.F. Chang's, we had great service. Fiona really took care of us, and was very pleasant with her recommendations for the new items. I would also like to thank Emily Finely at Karwoski and Courage PR for letting us know about the new Summer menu at P.F. Chang's. We look forward to trying more of the new Summer items on future visits.

To find out more information about P.F. Chang's, click here to go to their website:

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