• the pf chang’s they are a chang-in

    August 10th, 2008mr meanerLA restaurants, p.f. chang's

    It had to happen. PF Chang’s was destined to fall in to the lower quartile of about-to-be-over midscale dining establishments. You can always tell a restaurant on its way up. Usually they’ll have a decent bottle of wine for under $20, and the portions will be hearty, the service will be snappy and the entire establishment will be clean, calm and collected.

    How things have changed from when PF Chang’s China Bistro fitted into that category. I recall waiting, on a regular basis, for 90 minutes outside an outlet in Denver. The wait used to be so long that I could get my name on the list, then go to the nearby Park Meadows Mall, drink a beer or two and then return (with bleeper stuffed into my overtight hipster jeans) to the restaurant in order to wait…. and wait…. and….z….zzzzzzzzz.

    Well, that was in 1999, and this is now. The PF Chang’s at the Beverly Center in LA is usually half-empty on a Saturday night. The tables that used to be so clean and polished have now lacked the luster — some even have carved in graffiti that’s been there forever. And, over the past year or so, the margin-enhancing, cost-cutting measures have kicked in earnest. Let’s start with my favorite dish: Ma Po Tofu.

    This dish is now very small. Sure, enough sodium and fat to keep me in heart disease and obesity (respectively), but a far cry from the Ma Po Tofu of old. You can see in this one that the tofu pieces are larger (but far less) and there’s less sauce and broccoli than there used to be. AND IT GETS WORSE.

    The Steamed Dumplings now arrive on a Looooong dish (to make them seem larger, and more dominating) rather than the old dumplings that used to arrive in the (more expensive to clean and store) steaming bowl. See before and after, below:



    Now, this may seem subtle, but the “AFTER” has dumplings that are 30-50% smaller, as well as an absent leaf that was very tasty to eat. Not only that, but these dumplings are clearly MICROWAVED. The other were steamed. PF Chang’s is losing its luster for sure.

    Now, let’ talk about the other key dish for us vegans, the Spinach Garlic. Sadly, I don’t have a picture of it from the good old days, but I have a picture of it from yesterday:

    Seriously, there is NOTHING ON THIS PLATE…. about a can of spinach and no garlic to be seen. It didn’t even taste right — too watery and mulchy like you left a bag of spinach in the fridge for too long and forced yourself to eat it…. VERY SAD.

    Next, we have la pièce de résistance, the Buddah’s Feast:

    Yes, you are reading this picture correctly. We are looking at 1/2 a carrot, 6 pieces of broccoli, some snow peas and 11 (thin) slices of tofu. This is a fucking JOKE for $7.50.

    Even the wine selection is unbelievable. A crappy bottle of wine that can be bought in Ralph’s for $5.99 costs $26.50. It’s so funny to see a server showing up at your table, giving you no eye contact and pretending to carefully ‘present’ a bottle of wine to you that is marked up by $20.00. Fucking despicable.

    So, here we are. Dining at PF Chang’s like we wander the Queen Mary – a place of decaying elegance and of times gone by when things were better. I hope PF Chang’s goes the way of that other shitty chain that increased its prices and poured smaller beers until it ran out of money, and people stopped going there.

    I hate you PF Chang’s. You took all that was good and made it jokingly smaller, more expensive and less tasty while at the same time hiring assholes to laugh at me when I show up at your door.

    You are SO OVER!


11 responses to “the pf chang’s they are a chang-in” RSS icon

  • That spinach is pitiful. We have a PF Chang’s that I haven’t tried. I guess I’m not missing anything!

  • I loved your comment about RFD! I agree that Follow Your Heart is better. What I’ve had at M Cafe has been wonderful, but I think my options are a little more limited there than yours due to my intense hatred of onions. I’ve not been to Flore yet and I have enjoyed the 2 meals I’ve had at Pure Luck. I can’t really opine about beer because I don’t care for beer at all, but I know your taste tends to run more in the direction of a place where you can relax and have a good beer with your meal, so I understand that.

    As for PF Chang’s, my favorite is the Coconut Curry Vegetables. I’ve had the Ma Po Tofu once (when I was at dinner w/ my peanut allergic brother and didn’t want to chance having peanuts at the same table as him), but I haven’t had anything else you pictured. I haven’t had a negative experience at a PF Chang’s yet, but I’ve not been to the Beverly Center branch for about a year and a half. I usually go to one in the Valley. Thanks for the heads up; I’ll definitely be looking out for what you described next time!

  • thanks, Vegyogini. Yes, a hatred of onions must be awful in the vegan world. Miss Anthrope (not me: owner of this blog, Quarrygirl herself) hates bell peppers, a fairly ubiquitous item in vegan cuisine. No beer, no onions… do you like garlic? What do you do for fun?!

  • It is with deep regret that I must second your eulogy for PF Chang’s (Beverly Center). All the conditions you describe in your post were painfully apparent during our last dinner there. Additionally, PF Chang’s is frequently chosen for our staff meetings at work. Over the past three years, I’ve watched the portions shrink from generous to nearly-microscopic … now the average lunch item looks like a side dish!

  • pissedoffconsumer

    WOW!!!! THANK YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE…. it is very true. I recently went with my family and we ordered the ma pa tofu and we wondered if they had made the dish smaller or if it was just us (i guess they really did cut down). We also ordered the veg. lettuce wraps… they tasted HORRIBLE!!!!!!!! it was like they just cut up the tofu and the just put it on our plate, gross! We are probably never going back to that restaurant again.

  • What’s up. I work at pf changs in san antonio la cantera mall and I just gotta put in my two cents. I think that y’all just had a bad experience at the pf changs you went to. The food there is really good. One thing I would suggest for you vegans is the Sichuan asparagus. Badass dish, it’s kinda spicy but a great little side dish. I mean the portions aren’t gonna be huge but everything is weighed out (protiens and such) on the dramha line. I’ve been there for almost two years and yeah they’ve done away with alot of great food items and made portions smaller but that’s all because they’re becoming more and more corparate. That stuff happens. No need to call it off for good.

    Matt h
    PF Changs La Cantera mall
    San Antonio, TX

  • I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed this going on at pf changs. Me and my boyfriend used to go there all the time and always had leftovers for lunch… we went tonight and the portions were microscopic. My lo mein was barely a single serving, and there was an absolutely pitiful amount of veggies. The broccoli was gone entirely and the shrimp is now of the tiny, frozen baby variety rather than the fresh shrimp they used to use. Gross. My boyfriend’s mongolian beef looked like a side dish… noticed the dumpling downsizing too. Of course, they still charge the same as always.. not gonna waste my money there anymore.

  • I’ve been vegan for over a decade and have worked at pf changs for 5 years, not the LA store but my advice to you is if you hate pf changs so much then stop going. Instead of dedicating a web page to something you hate so much you should be proactive and contact corperate offices with real complaints. As far as wine, I challenge you to find wine at restaurants for the price of Ralphs. ANY restaurant. To even direct your negativity toward the waiter for something that is entirely out of his/her control is ridiculous.
    As far as easily accessable vegan cuisine I have always gone to pf changs by default. If you ever go in there again you should talk to a manager about menu options because they can make virtually any dish vegan by substituting the meat for 3 kinds of tofu and using a vegan mushroom oyster sauce.
    good luck to you all

  • i also work at pf changs, but couldnt care less about people’s opinion of the food. its way too salty and incredibly bad for you. what i do care about is that majority of the food talked about here is NOT VEGAN. we use refined sugar, as in bone char sugar, which is not vegan, and unlike what the person above me said, nothing with sugar in the recipe can be made vegan. of course, i can only speak for the location i work at, but i researched the sugar we use and it is not vegan. i can say with much certainty that majority of the other locations use the same if not another brand of refined sugar. until it is cheaper than refined sugar, organic, raw, or vegan sugar will never be used.

    the ONLY vegan options at any pf changs are: buddah’s feast STEAMED, spinach stir fried with garlic, and garlic snap peas. there are a couple sauces that do not use sugar, but creating a vegan dish would be too complicated for the average person to do. anyone eating there that is vegan should really know this.

  • i would also like to add, that even when food is ordered and said to be vegetarian, the cook are lazy and do not use a new wok, they use the same wok meat was cooked in, even though they may clean it out. i have gotten vegetarian dishes with meat accidentally in them. not okay.

  • I too got that ridiculous plate of sauteed spinach, it was so disgusting! I definitely asked them to take it back.

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