Delicious cuisine with a unique difference...
We first discovered P.F. Chang's China Bistro about a year and a half ago,
while driving through a new shopping development in search of luggage. We realized we were quite
hungry, and the large (well, massive really) stone horses that stand guard at the door to this unique
restaurant grabbed our attention. It was a chance finding we've never regretted.
Written by Lora Ruffner for Low
The particular location we dined at that day, (as well as many, many times since) was their Cincinnati
area store located at 2633 Edmondson Road (in the Rookwood Commons Shopping Center) in Norwood, Ohio.
Though we've since eaten at locations in Charlotte, North Carolina, Troy, Michigan, Columbus, Ohio, and
Los Angeles, California. We still find the Norwood (Cincinnati) restaurant to be the best, and some
comments are specific to that location.
If you come here looking for standard Chinese fare, you'll be out of luck, but not necessarily disappointed,
as what you find is in many ways much better. P.F. Chang's is definitely in a league of its own, offering an
elegant menu with an Asian theme tempered by American hospitality served in a sophisticated, contemporary
A little history ...
P.F. Chang's was co-founded in 1993 by Paul Fleming (the P.F. part of the name), and Philip Chang. Their
first location opened its doors in Scottsdale, Arizona. Paul Fleming, who also started several other
successful restaurant chains, was looking for elegance and innovation. Philip Chang, known for his
fiery stir-fried spicy chicken, executed the cuisine. To this day, Chang continues to serve as "Chinese
Cuisine Consultant" for the restaurants.
Much of the chain's success seems to now be credited to CEO Rick Federico. Federico has worked 19 years
in the restaurant business. He was also co-founder and V.P. of Grady's Goodtimes restaurants until bought
out by Brinker Int'l (owners of Macaroni Grill, Chili's, On the Border.)
On Friday evenings, a good portion of Saturday, and Sunday afternoons, you can often expect a long wait
to be seated. I've seen waits as long as two hours, though most often it's around 15 to 30 minutes. The
very fact that these waits exist is a testament to their delicious food.
It seems wrong to even begin to discuss the food without starting with Chang's Chicken in Soothing Lettuce Wraps
(stir fried chicken, water chestnuts, green onions, garlic and a faintly sweet spicy sauce served with crisp,
cool lettuce "bowls".) It's become their signature dish, and with good reason. It's uniquely delicious. It's
crisp, and soft at the same time; spicy, and cool at the same time. This dish is large enough for two people to
share, but let's just say you might hesitate to let go of even a bite.
To keep them low carb, please remember to
ask them to serve them without the rice "noodles" they place the chicken mix on. Their website nutrition counter
lists the carb count on the lettuce wraps as extremely high, but that's because they include the rice noodles in
Also be aware they use a small amount of sugar in the sauce, but it really is quite small, and doesn't
add an inordinate amount to the carb count. Without the noodles, the dish comes in at a total of 16 NET carbs (after
fiber reduction), but since this appetizer serves 2, that means 8 net carbs per serving. Not bad at all.
Another favorite for us in their appetizer category is their Northern-Style Spare Ribs. Unlike the Chang's Spare
Ribs, these are not dripping with barbeque sauce, but rather are seared to tender extremely juicy perfection in a
wok, and served with 5-Spice salt. An appetizer plate generally yields 6 to 8 ribs (depending on size of the ribs.)
As for entrées, my personal favorite is a variant of their Moo Goo Gai Pan. I ask them to add celery (since it's
crisply exceptional), leave out the snow peas (because I'm not a fan), and to bring it with a small bowl of toasted
almonds on the side. Unlike standard "Chinese place Moo Goo Gai Pan," P.F. Chang's is a splendid mix of large
tender shrimp along with the usual wok browned chicken breast slices. The sauce is light in color and texture,
but deeply flavorful. It's why I order the almonds on the side (try it sometime!) The almonds compliment that
sauce to a tee, and the addition of celery gives the dish a welcome crunch. I've been known to order a second
dinner to go, and have it again at home the following night. Like other many other items in their nutritional guide, their
carb count includes the rice, and does NOT reduce for fiber. To keep this dish at bare minimum carb-wise, they will prepare
the sauce with no (or minimal) cornstarch. It's pretty thin anyway, and I've never had a problem with having it
All entrées come with a choice of brown or white rice. One of my friends always orders the brown, and tells
me it has a faintly nutty taste that he really appreciates. As low-carbers, of course we skip the rice on all
Then there's the Kung Pao Chicken. It's very tender chicken that's been
quick-fired with chili peppers and scallions, and then made crunchy with the traditional addition of peanuts.
Friends also love their Lemon Chicken (they call it "Philip's Better Lemon Chicken") and it's a tart citrus sauce,
rather than the candy-sweet stuff found in other Chinese dining. The dish is served with broccoli. This is NOT a low
carb dish. No matter what, it's good enough to recommend to your non-low-carbing friends.
The Orange Peel Shrimp is another must-try dish, made with hot chilis and fresh orange peel.
Our Cincinnati location has no problem with altering the dishes to suit your tastes, dietary needs,
or even whims.
While a chain restaurant, you'd be hard pressed to know or guess that unless you'd been told. It's a
warm, comfortable setting accented with hand-painted murals, Ming dynasty style art pieces, and low
lighting. It achieves a practically glamorous dining setting, and when not overly crowded, can be
downright mysteriously romantic.
The entire restaurant is meticulously clean, adding to the comfort level. In fact, the kitchen cooking
area is visibly open at the back of the restaurant, behind the bar.
P.F. Chang's China Bistro is a Hot Concept award winner, as well as snagging a Best Chinese
Restaurant Award. And it's easy to see why. It's a place like no other.
Honestly, service can be hit and miss here. I've had wonderful service, I've had slow service, I've had
friendly but inefficient service. My recommendation is that when you find an outstanding waiter here,
don't be shy about letting him know you'd like him/her to serve you in the future. They will be
flattered and pleased to share their usual work days with you. Then come in on those days and
request that server by name.
We've never seen any wait staff at any location who was Asian. Every single one has been quite American/European.
For the elegance and quality of the food served here, the prices are quite reasonable... low even, with most
entrées running between $7 and $13. All major credit cards are accepted.
Visit the P.F. Chang's website to learn more or find
P.F. Chang's China Bistro of Norwood,
Ohio is located at:
2633 Edmondson Road
Norwood, Ohio 45209