Let me share a little secret to all my loyal QE readers – I hadn’t really gotten into the whole craze of a Doha PF Changs. Don’t get me wrong – it is a beautifully designed restaurant, and their exterior horse figure is rather striking. But I didn’t get the social media fervour for the upcoming Doha branch, despite having eaten at a PF Changs in Dubai.
For my Doha PF Changs review look further below, as the following is my review of my Dubai PF Changs dining experience:
I visited the Mall of Emirates restaurant a few weeks ago and whilst the food was good it was not overly spectacular to warrant the fandom. I went with a friend and we ordered a few dishes, and because my dining companion had dietary restrictions we requested gluten-free versions of the Shrimp Lo Mein and Dynamite Shrimp. I also ordered the normal version of the Dan Dan Noodles for myself.
Even my dining companion had raved about PF Changs and insisted I try the Dynamite Shrimp. The batter was seasoned well but…I wasn’t really blown away. I was expecting a big bold explosion of flavours. I did get flavour, it was lovely and crisp and sticky but, after all the rave reviews, I was expecting something…more.
I actually enjoyed my Dan Dan Noodles more than my starter. Although I did not like the texture of the ground chicken, I loved the sauce and the spicy heat. Even better it was rather theatrically mixed at our table, and who doesn’t enjoy food served with flair? The Lo Mein was good but not very memorable (I enjoyed my Strawberry Citrus drink more than those noodles).
I do have to recognise the quality of service in the Dubai branch, and I was very impressed that the manager even came by to personally assure that the special orders would indeed be prepared and cooked in a gluten-free zone. Gluten-free items come served on special flat plates with the PF Changs logo on them to signify to the kitchen and serving staff that this is a gluten-free item. I have asked at the Doha branch and they do indeed offer gluten-free, however I would suggest that you make sure the server understands your requirements exactly – and if in doubt do call the manager over. And, I am sure you are already aware but make sure you request gluten-free options for the accompaniment sauces too.
So there you have it, my little tale of why I wasn’t really hopping with excitement when I heard PF Changs Doha was finally opening. The Doha branch had its soft opening about two weeks ago and officially opened a few days ago. Mr Philip Chiang, one of the founders of the chain, even attended the Grand Opening and had an exclusive dinner with guests to introduce them to the brand and the food.
The following is my Doha PF Changs restaurant review:
Last night I decided to make a special trip to the Doha branch and taste some of the other dishes available, with a particular intention to scoff the well-named ‘The Great Wall of Chocolate’ dessert! The Doha branch does have a fantastic interior with sophisticated colour choices and subtle references to co-founder Chiang’s Chinese heritage.
Now, everyone has heard about the long wait times for a table with reports of hour-long waits so I made sure to go there before the dinner rush. My dining companion and I did have a 20 minute wait for a table, but it’s not unusual to wait that long for tables at most of Doha’s popular in-mall eateries. However once inside we ended up waiting twice as long for our mains despite being assured by our server that our food would arrive in 20 minutes – come on guys! Personally waiting for food annoys me more than waiting for a table.
PF Changs has seating capacity for up to 320 guests and so one would assume they would have the kitchen and front of house staff to be able to deal with the restaurant size. But even with two of its floors closed for a private event, service was slow and there was an air of what I like to call ‘contained chaos’ – where the wait staff are moving swiftly in order to keep on top of orders but there’s still something very hectic about this apparent calm. To be fair, the servers at PF Changs did exhibit a better version of this than I have seen at other restaurants.
We ordered the Mongolian Beef, the Singapore Noodles and the Dynamite Shrimp. Yes, I gave them a second chance because the whole world and his aunt were still raving about them. When our food did arrive my colleague said the Mongolian Beef was overcooked before the dish was even placed on our table. We queried with the waiter and he said it was okay, and meant to be that way due to the caramelising. Upon tasting the meat it was very chewy and definitely overdone. I managed to catch the attention of the manager and told him my issues with the dish. He was quick to offer a replacement and brought a new plate to us within 3 minutes – colour me impressed!
The difference between the new dish of Mongolian Beef and the over-done one was apparent from the first bite. The sauce was less harsh, the meat was not tough, and the balance of sweet/sour was spot on. The accompanying brown rice was cooked perfectly too. The flavour of my Singapore Noodles was like meeting a long-lost relative – there was a feeling of comfortable familiarity due to its curry sauce, with some undefinable element from its Chinese preparation. Quite frankly it was excellent, and I enjoyed the leftovers for lunch today!
So onto the Dynamite Shrimp…and before I go on, please do compare the two images below. One is a picture of the gluten-free version and the other is the regular version. There definitely is a world of difference in the two dishes – I will let you figure out which is the regular version.
These pictures are my defence for what I am about to say next…well done PF Changs, well done! All I can say is there is a big difference between the two versions I have tried, and now I understand why this starter is raved about. Although messily presented those battered shrimp were encased in the most beautifully rich sauce – it wasn’t explosive, but boy it was pretty darn good!
Lastly, we had The Great Wall of Chocolate – a dessert recommended for 4 people, but that wasn’t going to stop us. Although the chocolate used was not of a high cacao percentage, it was lovely without being overly sweet or intense. I particularly enjoyed the ‘wall’ element of it – and best of all, I took the left-overs home for seconds!
You could say that I now understand the delight people have for this chain, and I really did enjoy my food. However, I would probably still be a little careful about planning a return visit based on the overly long wait times for a table and for your food – which all dampens the meal experience. A good restaurant to try if you don’t mind the wait – but plan smartly if you are bringing hungry children with you.
PF Changs Opening Hours: Sat to Weds: 12pm until midnight; Thurs and Frid: 12pm until 1am
Telephone Number: 4452 8541.
EDIT – For those of you who wanted more information about the average menu pricing:
Starters: approx 40-50 QR
Mains: approx 60-80 QR
Desserts: approx 30-60 QR
We spent between 200-250 QR (without drinks) but our order did include two of the more expensive dishes.