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One year on, this West End restaurant has firmly established itself as part of London’s diverse and creative restaurant scene
In the UK we are used to eating certain cuisines in long-established, good quality chain restaurants, particularly Italian and French. More recently – and exotically – Wagamama, Yo! Sushi and Benihana have become fixtures on the food scene, and could soon be joined by another Asian-style chain.
With over 200 locations in the USA and a strong footprint in Latin America and the Middle East, the restaurant chain P.F. Chang’s might already be familiar to many travellers. Its first UK (and European) branch opened here in summer 2017 with a plan to open another nine spots in the capital in the short-term before possibly expanding to other UK cities.
Tucked away between Charing Cross Road and St Martin’s Lane, a refuge from frenetic Leicester Square, P.F. Chang’s Asian Table is a modern-looking place – no dragons, lanterns or lucky cats to be seen. Its wood, brick and metal aircon ducts are as contemporary as you like.
So far, so not a traditional Chinese. There are though, traditional chopsticks, essential for eating the excellent food on offer, original and classic dishes with ingredients and inspiration taken from all over Asia. The atmosphere at P. F. Chang’s is lively, with conversation the main background sound, the music doesn’t fight for your attention and there’s no need to shout your order.
While deciding what to choose from the menu, there are some refreshing cocktails to try, curated by cocktail consultants Fluid Movement. The star is the ‘’Fizu” (£9) made with sparkling sake, lemon oil and frozen cucumber balls. The Asian mojito (£7) is a mocktail made with shiso, pineapple juice, honey, lemon and sparkling green tea. If you prefer volume to subtlety, there’s a good range of wines and beers to suit all tastes.
The menu offers a variety of small and big plates ideal for sharing and P. F. Chang’s signature Dynamite Shrimp (£13.50) is definitely one to share. ‘’Shrimp’’ is used in the American sense, ie big, plump prawns, sort of mini sea-beasts, and they are cooked in crispy tempura and served with a coat of spicy Thai Sriracha aioli. A lighter sharing alternative is the Handmade Lobster and Shrimp Roll (£14.50) flavoured with lemon and chives, served with a Thai curry aioli.
Moving on, a good combination of main dishes to share is the deliciously savoury Mongolian beef (£11.50), caramelised with dark soy sauce and garlic, and Chang’s Chicken (£9.95), wok-fried and tossed with spring onions, served with a tangy sweet garlic chilli sauce. Aubergine on any menu is personally irresistible, so P.F. Chang’s Chili Aubergine (£7.95) is a must (even though the colour might be a bit alarming), nice and spicy with Thai basil and ginger. (Something to bear in mind is that although dishes are split into starters and main courses unless you specify, your food might arrive out of sequence, as dishes are delivered fresh and hot as soon as they’re cooked).
Churchill famously sent back a pudding saying it lacked a theme. That’s definitely not the case at P.F. Chang’s, where the theme is unashamed indulgence and desserts are made downstairs in the in-house bakery, the Pastry Lab.
Unless you’ve got a lot of belly room left and a selfishly sweet tooth, the White Chocolate Bomb (£7) is one to split with a dining companion rather than attempt it by yourself. Filled with honeycomb, cocoa nibs, popping candy, chocolate soil, hazelnuts and creamy hazelnut ice cream, the bomb melts by the application of a hot toffee sauce which forms a rich lava with crunchy bits. Pudding wine to accompany the bomb might be too much but one of the very fine brandies on offer would go well.
When it opened over a year ago, P.F. Chang’s promised fresh, excellent Asian food at affordable prices, positioning itself between upmarket places like Hakkasan and the predictable restaurants of Chinatown, and it certainly delivers on this promise. P.F. Chang’s has firmly established itself among the capital’s diverse and creative restaurant scene and hopefully, this is the first link in a very long chain.
10 Great Newport Street
Sunday – Wednesday : 11am – 11pm
Thurs – Saturday : 11am – midnight
Looking for a traditional steak instead? Just around the corner, you’ll find The Hippodrome Steak House – a great place for a classic rib-eye. For excellent contemporary Japanese check our review of Inko Nito. Or for classic Thai food, we recommend the nearby Thai Square