A bit over a week ago, PF Chang’s invited me and a guest to taste their new Lucky 8 menu to celebrate Chinese New Years. Given that I have homemade Chinese food just about every night at home, I wasn’t going to go except that the invitation indicated that Philip Chiang, co-founder, would be there. In fact, he’d be hosting the entire event. So off I went, without any clue as to what would await.
I’d never been to PF Chang’s. All I know about them is that they have a bangin’ key lime margarita and some really glutinous desserts. The food ended up being quite superb. Overall, go with the Chinese Red Wine & Pepper Braised Beef and Orange Shrimp (I don’t even like shrimp…) but skip the Chilean Sea Bass. To give full disclosure, these dishes still came far from being the authentic homemade types of meals that you’ll find in Chinese households, although closer than your average takeout restaurant. They’re not meant to though. They’re meant to cater to Western taste, and on that criteria, the Lucky 8 menu delivers.
Here are a few random tidbits we picked up from Philip’s presentation:
- White wine pairs wonderfully well with Chinese food, and I can’t recommend highly enough how well their Evolution white blend did for this meal
- At PF Chang’s, prepping is the most important step and takes the longest. Cooking typically takes at max a couple of minutes under the hot wok
- A new concept/dish takes about about 6 months to fully develop and is typically decided upon by the executive team
- Dessert at PF Chang’s primarily much draws from Western influences since more traditional Chinese desserts have “exotic” ingredients (taro, red bean paste, etc)
PF Chang’s Lucky 8 Chinese New Year Menu
Flaming Pork Wontons (limited time only)
Shaped like gold and silver coins from ancient China, dumplings symbolize prosperity as they are stuffed and folded, sealing in wealth.
Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps
In Cantonese, the word for “lettuce” sounds like “rising fortune.” So, the more you eat, the more fortune you will have.
Firecracker Chicken (limited time only)
In a ritual called “opening the door of fortune,” firecrackers were lit at home to scare away evil spirits. The doors were sealed and not reopened until morning.
Chinese Red Wine & Pepper Braised Beef (limited time only)
Cabbage traditionally represents green, folded cash. As a symbol of affluence, it is said to provide prosperity and luck in a variety of ways.
Orange Peel Shrimp
Oranges are the most popular and abundant fruit during Chinese New Year, and are known to be a symbol of good luck.
Oolong Chilean Sea Bass
Serving fish is symbolic of prosperity, so having it at the dinner table is regarded as a promising way to start the New Year.
A bowl of noodles can shed light on your longevity. The belief states that the longer the noodle, the longer the life span.
The Great Wall of Chocolate
Cake’s sweetness symbolizes a rich, sweet life, while the layers represent rising abundance for the coming year.