To P.F. Chang's or Not to P.F. Chang's in Manila?
P.F. Chang's, the popular American Chinese Restaurant of Philip Fleming and Philip Chiang, finally opened its first branch in Asia. With 200 restaurants across the US, and branches in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Kuwait and UAE, it also now calls Alabang home.
When you eat Chinese food in the US, your friends would probably take you to either P.F. Chang's or Panda Express. (Check out my P.F. Chang's experience in California.)
Its appearance in Manila caused quite a stir. A lot of people question whether or not an American Chinese restaurant concept will work here.
We decided to celebrate Aidan's 7th birthday there when P.F. Chang's in Alabang opened its doors to the public recently. Here is a rundown of our P.F. Chang's experience...
P.F. Chang's is a modern Chinese bistro that offers MSG-free and gluten-free, made-to-order, Chinese comfort food. Its ambiance is pretty similar to other modern restos in Manila, except for its signature replica statues of the Chinese terracotta warriors and horses.
The restaurant is also known for its highly-trained staff who can help you navigate through the menu and provide sharp recommendations.
(Tip: The American trainers are still here in Manila; try your best to order from them. The local waiters do not seem to know the menu yet and tend to answer everything is good.)
We started with the wonton soup, which is good for sharing and recommended for the kids.
I think you can get better Wonton Soup in Peking Garden.
Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps (P285). Our signature appetizer. Wok-seared minced chicken, mushrooms, green onions, and water chestnuts served over crispy rice sticks and with cool, crisp lettuce cups.
The waiters highly recommended this as a starter.
It tasted good with the signature sauce, but it's nothing special in a Manila setting. The duck lettuce wraps in other Chinese restos would beat this anytime.
You don't even need to add their signature sauce of honey mustard with soy sauce and a bit of chili. Anyway, if you're already there, you might as well try their sauces when you visit.
I loved these chili shrimps, which had the right amount of sauce. Perfect appetizer or bar chow.
Our waiter recommended this; he said it was good for kids.
The fried green beans were a letdown and the sauce was spicy, so the kids didn't like it at all. We don't recommend it.
The ahi tuna was seared perfectly and we loved the sweet mustard vinaigrette that accompanied it. Good to share with 3-4 people.
I liked these creamy shrimps, but you have to eat it with the sweet walnut and honeydew for a balanced and complete flavor experience. A bit expensive though, but worth it.
Most of the good food in P.F. Chang's are spicy and, unfortunately, not recommended for kids. This is one of their signature dishes, but it's common here in Manila.
We loved this creamy sea bass on a bed of healthy vegetables. Highly recommended for the healthy eaters and those looking for a different take on sea bass.
This came highly recommended.
The roasted sesame taste of the lamb was actually quite enjoyable. I couldn't get enough of it! (You can opt to have rice to go with this dish.)
What are your favorite dishes in P.F. Chang's?
and now, on to dessert...
I'm not impressed with dessert that is all presentation but does not deliver on taste. We have better chocolate and dessert options here in the metro.
If you are looking for a unique dessert or just want the right sweet ending, try these wontons filled with sweet cheese and mango.
Overall, most of the spicy (Hunan-inspired) food were really good, and you'll be safe with ordering the best sellers. However, it has to improve its service to make the P.F. Chang's Manila experience a memorable one for its diners.
Time will tell if it will be a big success or be seen just as an overpriced American Chinese restaurant.
P.F. Chang's China Bistro
The Street, Alabang Town Center, Muntinlupa
Monday - Thursdays: 11.00am to 11.00pm
Friday - Saturdays: 11.00am to 1.00am
Sunday: 11.00am to 11.00pm
Live an Awesome Life,
Full Disclosure: The Ultimate Philippines brothers (with Spanx, Ivan Henares and Ivan Man Dy) were invited to meet Mr. Philip Chiang on the public opening of P.F. Chang's in Manila. They gave us a birthday treat for Aidan's 7th birthday. :)
P.S. It's not that kid-friendly -- staff is not trained to handle children and the restaurant gets this "dark bar" ambiance at night. If you are dining with kids, it would be better to eat there during lunchtime (or wait for a little while before trying this resto if you don't want to be frustrated).
One more thing... I'm not a fan of restos that make people wait outside even if they have reservations; the place can accommodate 200 people, so is that just their way of giving the impression that there are a lot of customers waiting?