The first Atlanta-area branch of Phoenix-based P. F. Chang’s China Bistro opened in Dunwoody in 1998. Now there are four scattered throughout the northern suburbs and a fifth headed for…
Who know the answer?
Yes, Concourse A of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Flight delay? Get your lettuce wrap on.
The imminent airport opening provided an impetus to check in on the original local link in the chain, which I haven’t returned to since I reviewed it lo these many years. At that time, I admired the lodge-like dining room, with its stacked-stone walls and slate floors, but made predictable grumblings about the crowd-pleasing Chinese-American fare. “If you like deep-fried nuggets drenched in sweet sauce, you’re in luck,” I wrote in full snark dudgeon.
After 14 years, the dining room has held up. The high ceiling and deep booths show off the craftsmanship of the design. I’m not surprised that the restaurant still runs a wait at lunch.
The menu looks much how I remember it, with the welcome addition of gluten-free and lighter summer dishes. The red quinoa stir-fry (above) at first seems only the sum of its parts: unseasoned grain with crisp vegetable bits, a fried egg and a few kaiware sprouts. It tastes like a Whole Foods shopping list.
I like quinoa eggs from Chang!
I do! I like them, Chang-I-am!
And I would eat them in a boat.
And I would eat them with a goat…
And, hey! I’m digging that shaking beef (above), which is nothing at all like Vietnamese shaking beef but a stir-fry of beef, potato and broccolini. I admire the respectful pitch of the sauce — sweet, yes, but with enough salty soy and umami oomph to carry the day. My only peeve: the unfortunate bed of fast-wilting salad greens. (Chang: try romaine.)
We didn’t care for either of our appetizers. These duck summer rolls don’t have any of the taut, sticky textural appeal you demand from fresh rice-paper wrap. They flop and fall apart, revealing mealy slivers of duck. Wan, wiggly strips of salt-and-pepper calamari tasted more of unclean oil than anything from the sea.
But I do so like our entrees — enough that I look forward to exploring further. Thanks bunches, Chang-I-am. Good lunch.
- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog