Monday, September 10, 2012

GF: Good Food, Gluten Free, Great Friends, your choice.

Happy Fall!  This is my favorite time of year! 

As we jump into September, all the birthday dinners start lining up.  This should be a busy month for us!  My dear friend, CandyRed, has the honors of having the first dinner this fall of many.  We'll call her CandyRed because, when we growing up I noticed she always had candy around.  Then we decided to be roomates for a while.  Yeah, she always had candy in the house.  Red, well, that's for obvious other reasons...

So SILiac and I want to go to dinner for CandyRed's birthday.  Her request is for the ever popular P.F. Chang's.  I smile at this choice.  First off, Chinese food may be my biggest weakness.  Secondly, location-wise, it makes sense for all involved - no parking issues, easy to get to, no wait on a Tuesday.  And thirdly, I must add, I think its a great value.  You can get yummy food, and a good amount of it, for not-a-lot of money. And lastly, even the pickiest eater can find something that they can get into it.  Who doesn't like lettuce wraps???? 

Now, most people have been to P.F. Chang's, so how is this assessment going to be any different? Well, this is the first attempt a group dinner with a gluten-free necessity.  Seriously, SILiac is so sensitive now, and we were doing our best not to ruin her night.  She would like me to add that the GF menu was impressive for a chain with plenty of options.  So we ended up doing some comparisons - GF vs. regular Lettuce Wraps and Mongolian Beef.  Suprisingly, for both, we preferred the GF versions.  The lettuce wraps, however awesome they are anyway, the GF were a little less saucy and tasted fresher.  The difference here was minor, but noticed. GF Mongolian Beef was tangy and had more flavor than the regular.  Texture was awesome on both accounts, absorbing just the right amount of suace.And a side note, an outside source is telling me that the GF noodles are all better than regular.  Something to consider.

Here's the line-up:

Apps ~ Crab Wontons, Lettuce Wraps (GF & Regular), Egg Drop Soup, Hot & Sour Soup
CDO ~ Crispy Honey Shrimp
IPA-hole ~ Kung Pao Shrimp *winner
SILiac ~ GF Mongolian Beef
Zig ~ Caramel Mango Chicken
CandyRed ~ Chang's Spicy Chicken
Bearded Palate ~ Mongolian Beef

For our line-up, we did the P.F. Chang's for Two.  We decided that if one was going to order the Crispy Honey Shrimp and the Kung Pao with Crab Wontons anyway, then itshould probably just be.  I go back to the great value idea.  Two of the three couples (not Siliac & Zig) jumped on it.  Soups were satisfactory.  Crab Wontons are always a crowd pleaser with tastable crab! GF Lettuce Wraps win on the apps, but not overall.  The winner for the night, by a landslide, was IPA-hole's Kung Pao Shrimp.  Spicy, crispy, flavorful.  It had heat, but not too much, it had flavor, but not overpowering; just right.  Crispy Honey Shrimp is my go-to, being sweet and sticky and crispy, perfect with rice, but I did prefer the Kung Pao. 

The Caramel Mango Chicken and the Chang's Spicy Chicken underdelivered.  Caramel Mango somehow managed to lose the caramel-mango flavor, and Thai basil may have taken over. It was decent, don't get me wrong, but was more like a sweet chicken and maybe would do better as a shrimp??  Chang's Spicy seemed to overdo the spicy just a smidge.  Kung Pao's spice was spot on by comparison. 

And lastly was dessert.  When you do the dinner for two, dessert is part of the deal.  Just to be aware, take a look , that's what they are.  For me, that's the right size for dessert. I don't need the Great Wall of Chocolate that makes my stomach ache just looking at it.  Aching because its huge, and tasty, and so big that you feel like you have to meet the challange and finish it.  SILiac chose the Flourless Chocolate Dome, which was also tasty.  Apparently, it's difficult to find decent GF pastries.  However, this is not marked as GF, and SILiac noticed something was off, so I'm thinking that this bad boy was the culprit. 

I wish I spoke Chinese, I'd say something cool here, like a fortune cookie.  I'm not that clever.  GF stands for what?  Good Food? Gluten Free?  Great Friends?  Your choice.

P.F. Chang's China Bistro - Waterfront on Urbanspoon

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