I'm generally hesitant when it comes to chain restaurants. Mainly due to the fact that once you get more than about two establishments, everything seems to go into a downward spiral of suck. I am even more hesitant when it comes to places lauding "great Chinese food" as that's usually a verbal ruse for "Panda Express style Orange Chiken - three kinds."
This is why I was nervous when I first went to a P.F. Chang's for dinner. Sure the inside was decked out better than yo' mama, but I didn't really expect it to be much better than any other Americanized Chinese place (or yo' mama). My fears also weren't assuaged when I saw menu items that consisted of both the words "orange" and "chicken" in the same name.
Thank your fortune cookie that P.F. Chang's has overcome the many pitfalls that seem to strike chains. With the same menu prevailing at so many places, the quality can suffer as the chefs seem to stop caring. Service doesn't always meet standards, and the decor can get repetitive *cough cough Denny's/IHOP/Baker's Square cough*. Not so with good ol' Chang's! Each location I have dined in, Irvine, Roseville, and Sacramento have all preformed wonderfully. The interiors like snowflakes, all unique and aiding in providing a darn good eatin' experience.
I went with Rob, and our friend Joshua to check out the Sac location. Lucky for us Joshua knew one of the waiters, a tall drink a water named Brian. He took some extra special care of us, but from what I saw he was taking care of everyone pretty damn well, as were all the wait staff. Brian was on the mark with everything from service to suggestions (plus he was damn fine).
We started with the chicken lettuce wraps. Brian presented them to us and then created a tame "spicy sauce" which was made tame for Rob as Joshua and me and relenquished intense heat to accomodate him. The chicken was a tasty opener, seasoned appropriatly and mixed with water chestnuts, and various other veggies. The lettuce was iceberg, which in my mind in never appropriate, as butter lettuce, or napa cabbage would have really made this dish fly.
My order was a tasty dish consisting of slivers of thick, chewy gnocchi like noodles, with veggies, shrimp, and beef in an abalone sauce. Brian was kind enough to give a warning as apparently, many people do not like the chewy texture of the coin-like noodles, as they aren't "the same old spaghetti noodles" people expect. I appreciate this kind of service. Points given. Regardless, I liked the noodles, though there seemed to be far too many of them and not enough of anything else. The shrip, beef, and veggies all absorbed the flavors of the abalone sauce and truly created a phenomenal taste.
The pan fried noodles with chicken were fine. Fine is a good, neutral word for it. The earthy baby bella mushrooms were yummy, but when are they not? Mmm... mushrooms. The noodles stucks together in one ginormous noodle mass, which made it a chopstick nightmare. Moving on.
We also had a wonderful lamb dish. The lamb had been cut and trimmed into thin little veils with aromatics of mint and coriander. Crusted with seasame seeds, it's a great way mind blow yourself. There was other stuff on the plate, but honestly, I can't recall. Maybe it was so mind blowing I don't remember...
Desserts were pretty darn good. You can't go wrong with fried bananas with vanilla bean ice cream and hot caramel and fresh fruit. Rob and I pretty much looked like we were raised by wolves if you looked at our duel over the bananas. I had to distract him so I could snatch the last one. That's what we call an, "Oh snap." The cheesecake was big enough to bludgeon someone to death. Thats pretty shnazy in my opinion, and the raspberry sauce is totally swass too.
Overall, everything was good, not great, but certainly prepared by skilled hands. I wouldn't mind dropping by again and
P.F. Chang's China Bistro
1530 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95814