Sometimes you just can’t avoid going to the mall and, as I noted recently, P.F. Chang’s is a bright spot in the food desert that is the typical American mall. In its favor it has vegan and gluten free meal options and it sells beer, even some local and regional beers, and it is an alternative to the carbohydrate or protein smothered in cheese approach to cuisine of the other apostrophe S corporate chain restaurants. In short, it beats the other options in a typical mall. This time out we tried the pan-fried pork and the pan-fried vegetable dumplings.
The Dumplings: The pan-fried pork dumplings were a decent example of mass produced, frozen gyoza style dumplings. The wrapper was slightly thicker than I think is optimal, but the pork filling was flavorful, with enough scallions that you could actually taste their contribution to the dumpling. At the last P.F. Chang’s outing the steamed vegetable dumplings came slick and glistening with oil, which seems to defeat the purpose of getting steamed dumplings. So this time we went for the pan-fried vegetable dumplings which were actually less greasy than the steamed dumplings. However, like last time they suffered from an overpowering amount of ginger in the filling.
The Dipping Sauce: The dumplings came with a trio of dipping sauces, Chinese Mustard, Sambal chili paste and Soy, all of which were atrocious. The mustard was runny and had a limp flavor, not enough nasal passage clearing mustard kick. The Sambal was over the top salty and had a slight fishy flavor that made me think fish sauce or anchovy paste had been added to the Sambal, basically it was inedible. The Soy dipping sauce was cloyingly sweet and was close to inedible. Also they didn’t bother to wipe the rims of the sauce dishes, so it looks like the sauces are just slopped into the dishes.
Luckily there are bottles of soy sauce, white vinegar and chili oil on the table so you can make your own sauce, but unless you ask, they don’t bring empty sauce dishes for you to mix the sauce in.
Location: A mall or hotel near you.