12 Things You Eat That Are a Lie
12 Things You Should Know Before Eating at P.F. Chang's
When a craving for or crispy strikes, there's only one place to go. Yes, P.F. Chang's is a mainstay at malls across the country, but it beats out the likes of Panda Express by leaps and bounds with its authentic recipes and balanced flavors. Discover the chain's Chinese roots and find out why customers return time and time again for the Chicken Lettuce Wraps and more favorite dishes to spice things up.
1. It all began with a starving artist
When Philip Chiang finished art school in Los Angeles, he had a hard time finding job prospects. When his mother took a long-term trip to China, he happily filled in as the chef and owner of her restaurant, The Mandarin in San Fransisco, where he was quickly drawn into the life of a restaurateur.
2. The recipes come from an award-winning chef
Philip's mother, legendary restaurateur Cecilia Chiang, cooked upscale Chinese cuisine at her restaurant in the 1960s, inspiring her son with the flavorful, authentic recipes. After stepping in to run the restaurant, Philip opened his own spot, Mandarette, combining casual and fine-dining aspects and serving street-influenced Chinese dishes that would later make their way onto the P.F. Chang's menu. Today, Cecilia Chiang is known as the Julia Child of Chinese cooking.
3. The guy behind Ruth's Chris Steak House sparked the idea
Paul Fleming, a businessman from Louisiana, opened the New Orleans–based chain, Ruth's Chris Steak House in the 1980s. During his travels, he frequented Mandarette in Los Angeles, and eventually convinced Philip Chiang to collaborate with him on a Chinese restaurant concept. The first location of P.F. Chang's opened at a mall in Scottsdale, Arizona in 1993. The name is a combination of Fleming's initials (P.F.) and Philip's last name, with a slight change in spelling.
4. It launched two other restaurant chains
Two more Asian-inspired restaurants launched following the initial success of P.F. Chang's—Pei Wei Asian Diner, a fast-casual spot specializing in takeout, opened in 2000, and Taneko Japanese Tavern, an upscale, Japanese pub serving sushi, noodles and robatayaki dishes, opened in 2006.
5. There are over 250 locations worldwide
Though the chain began on the west coast, the demand for P.F. Chang's flavor-packed fare has since spread like wildfire. There are now more than 200 locations in the United States alone, plus 56 internationally, including several countries in South America, Europe and the Middle East.
6. Every dish is made completely from scratch
For such a large chain, it's impressive that all P.F. Chang's kitchens make their menu items from scratch. Produce is local whenever possible, and vegetables and meat are prepped fresh each day. Chefs do everything from julienning carrots to folding dim sum by hand, and ensure that ingredients are chopped in a particular way for each recipe. "We simplified Chinese food, took out the filler, made it cleaner and fresher," Chiang told .
7. P.F. Chang's put chicken lettuce wraps on the map
Anyone who's been to the chain has undoubtedly tried the top-selling Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps. The signature Chiang family recipe is a secret—the ingredients on the menu are purposely vague—though many restaurants have attempted to copy it.
8. The chefs know how to rock a wok
The traditional cooking vessels, which originated in China over 2,000 years ago, are an integral part of P.F. Chang's kitchen operations. Cooks on the wok line get the pans screaming hot in order to release all the flavors of the ingredients and cook them quickly so they retain their nutrients.
9. It was the first national restaurant to use Sriracha
According to , P.F. Chang's was a pioneer in using the spicy, red Rooster sauce. Starting in 2000, the chain used Sriracha to give their Singapore Street Noodles a kick. Now they use nearly 100,000 bottles of it per year!
10. You can find your favorite menu items in the frozen aisle
If you're craving Shanghai Style Beef but can't make it to one of the restaurant's locations, look no further than your grocery store. Yep, the chain now makes frozen meals so you can get your Asian-food fix with just a few minutes in the microwave. Or, you could always whip up some sticky-sweet goodness yourself with our copycat recipe for Mongolian Beef.
11. Expect the menu to change regularly
Though you can always rely on your favorite menu items like Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Singapore Street Noodles and Kung Pao Chicken to stick around, P.F. Chang's regularly switches up its offerings. With the Local Favorites menu, area chefs can highlight new dishes, plus gluten-free options and holiday menus for celebrations like Chinese New Year keep your tastebuds on their toes. Limited-time cocktails are in the mix as well!
12. There's an awesome rewards program
If you're constantly craving Changs, join the chain's reward program to take full advantage of your spending. It's free to become a P.F. Chang's Preferred member, and for every dollar you spend, you'll get 10 points on your account—once you reach 2,000, there's a free entrée with your name on it. Members also get a deal on you birthday, plus plenty of perks, including exclusive invites to events like tastings.
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