• vegan chain dining: pf chang’s

    September 8th, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, p.f. chang's

    i can’t say that we’ve eaten at pf chang’s very much since our last somewhat damning post on the chain restaurant, but we have been back a few times. if you are dining out with omnivores, or are in a city without much vegan food, pf chang’s can be a life saver. they’ve got locations all over the country, and some decent animal-free options. in fact their entire vegetarian menu is free of animal ingredients, and might be considered vegan, depending on whether or not you eat bone char sugar.

    buddha's feast: vegetable medley with five-spice tofu served steamed or stir-fried.

    i contacted pf chang’s recently to find out exactly what was vegan on their menu, and within a few hours, i got the following response:

    “Thank you for your note and inquiry! There are a couple of items on our menu that are vegan and others that can be, when modified. If cane sugar is not an issue for you, I recommend any items from our “Vegetarian Plates and Sides” and vegetarian marked menu items. If cane sugar is an issue, I recommend the following:

    Steamed Buddha’s Feast – you can add soft tofu or pressed tofu to this dish.

    Stir-Fried Spinach – garlic, salt and pepper. You can add soft tofu or pressed tofu to this dish.

    Garlic Snap Peas – garlic, salt and pepper. You can add soft tofu or pressed tofu to this dish.

    You can also order any vegetable or tofu with a modified sauce. Please ask to speak to a manager and they will be happy to accommodate you accordingly. I hope this information is helpful.

    Thanks and have a wonderful day!”

    excellent! so basically all the vegetarian dishes are safe to eat, unless you wanna avoid bone char sugar. then you can stick with buddha’s feast, the spinach, and the snap peas.

    we hit up pf chang’s recently to give the vegan dishes another whirl, and while i wasn’t blown away by the food, it wan’t as bad as i remember it. i got the steamed buddha’s feast, pictured above, which is basically a big old lump of vegetables and sliced tofu. it was tasty and well-prepared, but definitely something i could make at home.

    spinach stir-fried with garlic: the name says it all!

    we also got the spinach stir-fried with garlic to share, which was great. again, a pretty standard dish that i could probably re-create.

    ma po tofu: sichuan's famous dish of crispy silken tofu in a vegetarian sauce with steamed broccoli

    my husband ordered the ma po tofu (which contains the evil sugar), and it was by far the best dish on the table. the tofu is just cooked so nicely, all crispy and gooey on the outside and so soft in the middle. plus, it comes with a ton of steamed broccoli.

    although pf chang’s uses the bad sugar, i’m super stoked that their entire vegetarian menu is free of dairy and eggs. they do have an egg noodle dish, but the menu doesn’t specify it as vegetarian…so that’s cool. so if you are in a pinch, pf chang’s is a great chain to hit up, unlike most chinese restaurants where the only vegetarian option looks like this:

    check out pf chang’s website for locations.

    PS: HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BONE CHAR SUGAR? i’m curious. because we all love ronald’s donuts, right? they use bone char sugar. so does zpizza, i think. and i bet sriracha does too. check out this forum thread and chime in.

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28 responses to “vegan chain dining: pf chang’s” RSS icon

  • I draw the line at bone char sugar – I’m happy to eat it as it contains no animal ingredients whatsoever. Dead animals are used in its manufacture, but that’s it. After all, animals are used throughout the world for everything, including plastics, rubbers and most if not all electronic equipment.

  • worrying about bone char is a waste of time.

  • PF Chang’s gets a lot of flack for not being authentic Chinese food, but what Chinese restaurant is? It’s tasty, sue me.

    I typically get the Coconut Curry, and the wife get the Ma Po Tofu. And of course the ridiculously good lettuce wraps.

    There’s a couple of side dishes hiding in the Gluten Free section that I haven’t gotten around to trying yet: the above-mentioned Garlic Snap Peas and the Shanghai Cucumbers. It’s strange that they’re not listed in the vegetarian section or the normal side dish section. I must’ve gone to PF Chang’s ten times before noticing these, because why would I look in the Gluten Free menu?

  • I LOVE the last paragraph of QG’s review and the photograph which follows it! Ha HA! Can’t stop laughing! And HOW TRUE!!!!!!!!!!! (I am SO thankful that there are FOUR vegan/vegetarian THAI restaurants that we can call for delivery!)

    As for bone char sugar, I wouldn’t spend one minute worrying about it.

  • Personally I buy “vegan” sugar, but when we’re dining out, I don’t give it a moment’s thought.

    It’s like a cost/benefit thing to me: Like, lets get more people eating less actual animals than worry too much about the finer points of degree. I’d much rather see more of the population go vegan for like, 50% of their meals, than see more vegans go to more vegan extremes.

    But if someone is motivated to worry about those finer points, that’s their choice of course.

  • Great review. Thanks for checking on this for me. I’ve always ordered their buddha’s feast, so this makes me feel better knowing that it truly is vegan.

  • I love me some P.F. Chang’s and always get the Ma Po Tofu and veggie lettuce wraps when we go. I must admit, I never worry about bone-char sugar.

    For you SFV folk looking for good Chinese food, check out Garden Wok in Reseda. They are a family-owned all veg restaurant and most things on the menu are vegan. Not sure why Quarry Girl doesn’t have a review on them yet as they have been around a while. They are awesome!

  • The coconut curry vegetables are the best and you can swap the regular tofu for the 5-spiced if you like.

    And Greg, just a head’s up: the cucumber dish is warm. You might expect it to be, but I didn’t. Warm cucumbers freak me out.

  • Oh cool!! Thanks for the review QG, I didn’t even know you could order anything vegan at this place. The Buddha Feats bit looks great!! 😀

  • There is a PFC’s about 5 minutes from my office. I will occasionally order on their website for a pick up. Not the best food, but decent. I usually get the buddha’s feast and ma po tofu.

    Hmmm..might have to eat there for lunch tomorrow. I am getting kinda sick of my cooking this week.

    As for bone char sugar…at home I am bone char free. Out and about, I don’t give it a second thought.

  • At the PF Changs in Sherman Oaks, they were willing to make anything on the menu vegetarian for us. They couldn’t have been nicer about it.

  • “The coconut curry vegetables are the best and you can swap the regular tofu for the 5-spiced if you like. ”

    Oooooh, thanks for the tip, I’m gonna have to try that next time.

  • I don’t eat anything with sugar unless it specifies what kind of sugar is used (ex. I will never have Starbucks frappucinno because of the sugar…which is most likely bone char)

    I’m actually rather surprised that the people who have commented here don’t seem to give it a second thought…well, to each their own.

  • Rachel…

    That attitude only fragments our goal…I bet I could find some flaw in you lifestyle that is not vegan. Been doing this for 20+ years…..I am not perfect nor has any vegan I have ever met.

    Sorry to be a dick, but your statement screams, make me a target.

  • @Rachel

    It’s simply too difficult. Sugar is in EVERYTHING. I can’t even begin to imagine how you manage to just avoid sugar.

  • I went to the PFC at the Promenade with omni friends and asked the waitress about whether the vegetarian items contained dairy/egg/fish and she responded, “Oh, are you vegan?” Ha, I love LA. I had the Buddha’s Feast with soft tofu and it was huge and delicious!

  • “That attitude only fragments our goal”
    How does someone saying they avoid something with an animal product fragment “our” goal? Sure, I could see if the Rachel person was being a self-righteous jerk about it, but she wasn’t, so relax.

  • FYI, I was told by a server both at the Woodland Hills Promanede and at a location in Cleveland, OH that you can order most things off of the gluten free menu and sub tofu for the meat. Just let them know you are vegan and they will modify it for you.

  • Thank you Matt for noticing my comment was not self-righteous in any way. I didn’t intend to be as a couple people assumed…

    The amount of years doesn’t really have anything to do with it, but I’ve been veg for 15 years…and with each year I get more and more strict with my lifestyle. I don’t eat at meat serving restaurants, I don’t eat when non-vegans cook at their homes (like my meat eating friends) and I don’t eat things “made in the facility with…” something non-vegan. People think I’m crazy, but to each their own as I said previously. We all have our own way we live out veganism and this is mine. Can’t we all just appreciate each other for the fact that we’re vegan? 

  • “I went to the PFC at the Promenade with omni friends and asked the waitress about whether the vegetarian items contained dairy/egg/fish and she responded, “Oh, are you vegan?” Ha, I love LA.”

    You really take it for granted and assume that everyone knows what that word means, especially food service people. Let me tell you, that is not necessarily the case. Spend some time in a place like Florida, or wherever, and you’ll have to explain the word to waitstaff constantly. Not that it’ll get you anything, because they have no food for the likes of you, silly vegan.

  • We recently went to the PF Chang’s in Thousand Oaks, and our super awesome server told us (after checking w/ the manager) that the curry has dairy (specifically cream/heavy cream) in it. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

  • I’m a manager at PF Chang’s, and there is no dairy in the coconut curry. Anything listed as vegetarian on the menu doesn’t contain dairy.

  • NO coconut milk based curry worth its salt has dairy in it. I’ve never seen it done, it’s ALWAYS safe, there’s no way there’s dairy in it.

  • Back when I lived in VA and we had limited vegan options, PFC was a go-to. Buddha’s Feast was always disappointing, but Ma Po Tofu was delish and the vegetarian lettuce wraps (which I swear I’ve double triple checked are vegan…I’m surprised no one’s mentioning them) are to die for.

    I don’t pay attention to bone char sugar when I’m out or in products that are otherwise vegan. I hardly use sugar at home, but I guess if I were to buy it, I would buy truly vegan stuff.

  • I used to go to PF Changes all the time until a recent visit when I was informed all the vegetarian dishes use a “oyster sauce” including the tofu lettuce wraps, and vegetable dumbplings. and the maanager also informed me of the milk used in the coconut curry. He said the only thing that didnt have dairy or oyster milk was the buddhas feast, which i then ordered, and was reaaaaaaly plain.

  • Hate to break it to you, but the coconut curry in Disneyland’s California Adventure has dairy in it.

    So, it does exist, but I’m sure it’s not worth its salt. ;p

  • I’m confused now. When I wrote to them they told me the dumplings have egg in the dough used for the wrapper.

  • I worked at PF Chang’s about a year after going vegan. I pored over their recipe books for months to find out exactly what I could eat. Their menu is ridiculously veg-friendly and can be altered to make even more delicious dishes! My fav? Order the “Crispy Honey Chicken” (which is actually honey-less) and substitute five-spice tofu for the chicken (Tip: Ask for the tofu to be battered in potato starch for extra crunch!) A great companion dish to the Honey Five Spice Tofu is “Orange Peel Chicken” substitute five spice tofu. Ask for it without chicken stock and to substitute veggie oyster sauce instead. Lastly, the “Singapore Street Noodles” are made of rice and are amazing once you remove the chicken and shrimp and substitute (you guessed it!) five spice tofu. For anyone who isn’t familiar with five spice tofu, it’s just like regular tofu but it’s extra firm and infused with five spice powder, making it extra tasty.

    And to clear up the confusion: The dumplings don’t have egg, and the oyster sauce used in all the vegetarian meals is vegetarian. It’s actually what’s in the white ramekin that the waiter uses when mixing up your “special sauce”. Their curry certainly doesn’t contain any dairy, either.

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