• 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.

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