So, as you may recall, I review more than restaurants. If it’s tasty and cheap it belongs on this blog. I was contacted by a person representing P.F. Chang’s Home Menu asking if I’d be interested in trying a variety of their flavors in exchange for an honest review. Of course, they had my yes at free. But as you will see, free food will not automatically buy a good review (though free food is more tempting to me than a flat out monetary bribe). I have already unofficially reviewed the Shanghai Style Beef in a previous post so I already had some preset expectations for their other selections. I have rated the meals by three categories: the sauces, other ingredients (noodles, veggies, etc), and the meats. I've also included smileys to further reinforce my opinions and, well, I like smileys.
We, Ms. Classy and I, were given three coupons, each good for one P.F. Chang’s Home Menu selection. We browsed through the freezer section of our local Giant and decided on the Orange Chicken, Sweet and Sour Chicken, and Shrimp Lo Mein. Each dinner’s retail value is $7.99 for two alleged servings. Obviously, this is much cheaper than heading out to your local P.F. Chang’s but as you will see, you get what you pay for. So without further ado, here’s my in-depth critical analysis in descending order of goodness:
The sauces for each selection were perfect. Strong, full flavors in the exact amount to fit the serving size. I could really taste the combination of orange, ginger, and spices in the Orange Chicken. The sweet and sour sauce in the Sweet and Sour Chicken ranks up there with dine-in restaurant quality. You can really taste the sweet and the sourness of the sauce. The sauces are what makes these meals. If they bottled these sauces for individual sale, I would buy them like I do the Nado’s Peri-Peri sauces.
These were mediocre at best. The bell peppers and carrot shreds were the best at staying crisp and flavorful through the process of being injected with preservatives, frozen for who knows how long, then cooked. The chunks of pineapple in the Sweet and Sour Chicken held on to their flavor decently, but the texture was not very pleasant to mush around in my mouth. The mushrooms, noodles, edamame, celery, and bok choy seemed to lose their flavors completely, which wasn’t immediately noticeable due to the enjoyment of the sauces that coated them.
Now we’ve come to the thoroughly disappointing part of the P.F. Chang’s Home Menu offerings. The chicken in the two selections were completely bland and the breading was soggy. The shrimp was tough, which I expected when the cooking directions instructed that I cook the already precooked shrimp for nine minutes. Again, the meats’ flavorlessness was not immediately noticeable due to the powerful flavor of the sauces.
Did I say “yuck” and not finish any of these selections? No. If you’re busy and on the go, they’ll work because they’re so quick and easy to prepare and the sauces are so good that you may not notice the other shortcomings. However, will I be purchasing any of these in the future? No.