The Reverend Eats … P. F. Changs Asian Table London, West End
A bit of a strange one this – how I found P. F. Changs. It all started one Sunday morning when I’m in bed watching Sunday Brunch (don’t judge me!). There was a feature on foods from the UK that a guest foodie person was covering and something took my eye.
One of the foods being ‘presented’ was some battered prawns. You’ll have seen from my blog that I do love a good battered prawn but this was different.
Firstly, they were served in a martini glass. A bit OTT, sure, but it was a big old portion of prawns and they were covered in a sauce. It wasn’t a sweet chilli sauce, my go-to prawn dipping sauce, so I was a bit hesitant at first.
Slowly, the guest on the show tried them, and everyone was waxing lyrical. You can tend to ignore Tim Lovejoy’s opinion on food (except coriander being awful!), but even Simon Rimmer was saying how amazing these prawns were. And he kept saying it. Far more often than they would usually enthuse about something being offered.
The prawns were being offered at a restaurant in London – P. F. Changs – and I immediately went online to book a table.
P. F. Changs Asian Table is near Leicester Square in London. The closest tube is Leicester Square Tube station and it is easily walkable from Charring Cross train station. Nestled down a street, it is not so obvious it is there but there is a sign above it so that should help.
Outside P. F. Changs
Its a restaurant in London. The road it is on is busy and dirty. The restaurant itself is clean and smart. From the outside you can see there are some tables in the front window but I’d recommend avoiding these.
Inside P. F. Changs
It has a modern feel with the first section of the restaurant being much more a ‘bar’ than a restaurant. Once you walk through this section you get to the main seating areas. Its a bit cramped in there but I have been to places where the tables are closer together.
The menu at P. F. Changs is certainly Asian. It is as mix where Cantonese meets Japanese. If you pick up the menu you’ll see that the Prawns (or ‘The Original Dynamite Shrimp’ to give them their proper name) are the first thing there. It then moves on to soups/noodles which are followed by Sushi/Salad before coming to the mains and then ending with the sides.
There will be something for everyone if you are a fan of Asian food.
We had to order the Dynamite Shrimp as a starter. We teamed it with the chicken and lettuce leaves. Main course wise we had the Singapore Noodles and Honey Chicken. Pretty middle of the road options for main courses but should still be fine.
This was why we were here! The Dynamite Shrimp!
The photo shows you how lovely they looked, but can’t share how tasty they were! If you are worried the sriracha mayo might be too spicy for you, don’t. If you are worried the prawns are drowning in the sauce, don’t. It is obvious that this is one of their house specialties and they really know what they are doing. The portion size is probably too much for one person but perfect to share if you both have a starter. If you like prawns then you will not be disappointed by getting the Original Dynamite Shrimp from P. F. Changs Asian Table.
To go with the prawns we had the other ‘Original’ offering from the menu – The Original Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps. Everything was as described on the menu but I wasn’t blown away by the flavour in the same way I was with the prawns. They also must keep the lettuce fresh by placing it in cold water as each of the lettuce leaves were soaking wet – perhaps this is the ‘style’ they should be but I wasn’t impressed.
So the starters were both a hit and a miss. I really did hope that the main courses would bring up the average for the meal.
The Mains Event
There was a big wish for the main courses to be more like the prawn starter than the lettuce chicken. With Singapore Street Noodles and Honey chicken on offer, it shouldn’t be impossible for P. F. Chang’s to bring out the big flavours. Lets start with the Singapore Street Noodles.
Personally this isn’t something I would order. I’m not a fan of generic ‘curry’ flavourings and having seen Singapore noodles in many a chinese restaurant, it never looks appealing. With all the presentation that goes in to the Dynamite Shrimp, this looks like it has just been thrown onto the plate. Sure, you have a number of good sized prawns in there, and pieces of spring onion. There are even some cherry tomato halves and a wedge of lime.
Unfortunately, none of this helps bring up the score of a mediocre Singapore noodle dish. You’d accept getting this served to you a generic chinese restaurant but at P. F. Changs I really did feel this let the side down. Moving over to the Honey Chicken, lets hope this raises the game.
To paraphrase the late Roy Castle – “Presentation… Presentations what you need! If you want to be a really good restaurant!”. Once again, P. F. Chang’s Asian Table really lets itself down here. How can you have a martini glass of Dynamite Shrimp and a portion of honey chicken that looks like the waiters hold the plate the other side of the kitchen from the chefs so the chefs have to just throw the food across to the plate and hope it lands successfully.
Taste wise it was actually quite nice. I’d not had Honey Chicken before and enjoyed the flavour. Would I have it again at P. F. Changs? Probably not – there are another 2 or 3 main courses that I’d like to try so I’d not rush back to ordering the honey chicken again.
We did have some cocktails so with the tip It came in at around £75. This might seem a lot for a meal for 2 however are in central central London in a very popular restaurant. The cost could be brought down a little by sharing the Dynamite Prawns as a starter however I’d be more inclined to suggest you just order two portions of it to start, regardless of the increased cost!
Only a short walk away from Chinatown I feel that if you were just after some Cantonese/Asian food there would be better and cheaper places to eat close by, however NONE of them will have The Original Dynamite Shrimp so you would have to make peace with that!
The Reverend’s Final Thought
While we were waiting to pay the bill, a table for two sat down next to us. They asked me what we ordered and I told them they must have the dynamite prawns. They said they were going to anyway as they’d seen them on Sunday Brunch! Great minds think alike!
Would I go to P. F. Chang’s Asian Table again? Sure I would. In fact, I have! But I would suggest you did what I did the 2nd time I went. I sat at the bar with a chum, had a cocktail and shared a portion of dynamite shrimp. We then left and grabbed food elsewhere. It isn’t cheap, but except for the Dynamite Shrimp, there isn’t much that would cause you to go back to P. F. Chang’s Asian Table.
Check out a great Vietnamese meal I had in Bermondsey
Or some Pan-Asian food I had hidden behind Oxford Street.
All my restaurant reviews can be found on this link.