You certainly won't miss it with its entrance flanked by two grandeur terracotta horses. I used to see a row of terracotta warriors in front of the bistro, though recently they're nowhere to be found save for a couple inside, standing high above on altar-like structures overlooking the main hall. A reception desk greets you as you walk in, a bar overflowing with cocktails and bottles of liquor just beyond. The two-storey structure was magnificent with red circular decors overlapping across the high ceiling. Rows of black stones engraved with floral designs bejewel an accent brick wall, while a variety of vases balance on geometric shelves against one painted panel.
The waiter graciously ushered us to our table where a tall lighted mural of an ancient Chinese setting served as a backdrop. Peering overhead, different-sized dark brown abaca balls each imprisoning a drop light sporadically adorn the lofty ceiling. I'd like to express my thanks to my cousin Bianca for these two photos taken while I busy wrestling with my younger daughter.
The staff was basically accommodating (well we had to make them rearrange quite a few tables and chairs to accommodate a wheelchair and two high chairs), courteous, and patient (I think we capriciously changed our minds about dining upstairs or down three times). As we were studying the menu, I noticed a section dedicated to gluten-free dishes. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that their food does not contain MSG, pretty unusual for a Chinese cuisine.
Just like how it is in CPK where the staff gets your preferred beverage first (apparently, the group that brought P.F. Chang's here in Manila is also the same company that brought the CPK franchise locally), the waiter asked us to choose between two variants when we informed him that we wanted iced tea. He suggested the Tamarind Iced Tea (P95) which had a bold tamarind aftertaste; certainly a new unconventional flavor. I still opted for the Jasmine Iced Tea (P95) though, which had a more mellifluous taste albeit I was outvoted by my cousins by a significant landslide. One instance of their stellar service was when they would replace your glass of iced tea with a new one instead of just refilling your glass. This, according to the waitstaff, was done in order to maintain the quality of the drink.
I liked P.F. Chang's Fried Rice (P200) which consists of a motley of wok-fried rice, julienned carrots, bean sprouts, ribbons of eggs, soy and chopped scallions. Though usually there's a minute difference between those offered in the usual Chinese restaurants, this one sets itself apart by having a certain fusion of spices which exudes a sapid flavor that still manages to meld well with the meat dishes.
The quintessential Sweet and Sour Pork (P365) was a little disappointing. Not to say that it was bad, but for something that is ubiquitous in Chinese eating houses, I expected them to perfect this dish. I would have liked some more sauce, not just enveloping each chunk of pork but spilling over to the platter itself, allowing one to smother a piece with more of that sweet-sourish taste.
The Kid's Chicken (P145) brings what every normal kid loves -- chicken fillet in crispy fried batter. My cousin (yes, my cousin ordered this, not my daughter) chose the Honey sauce over the Sweet and Sour one, and admittedly it goes well together. Nonetheless, I'd still rather spend on another dish.
It was actually my nephew's birthday so we had to have noodles on the table according to old tradition. The long strand of noodle symbolizes long life and we chose to represent it with their Lo Mein (P225). A heap of stir-fried egg noodles attempts to hide a melange of treasures that span from bean sprouts and mushrooms to carrots and slices of celery.
The heat combined with sweetness in this Chang's Spicy Chicken (P320) definitely leaves one hankering for another bite. Each dice of chicken is coated with a glimmering tangy sauce flecked with chopped scallions, simply perfect with P.F. Chang's fried rice.
I wasn't particularly fond of the Northern Style Spare Ribs (P650). It was good -- quite savory with the tiniest hint of sweetness that borders on the imaginary, but for the price, I found myself gnawing on more bone than meat. A small ceramic containing a five-spice salt rub sits quietly in a corner, with the intention of enhancing the flavor profile currently present in the wok-braised ribs.
I loved the Buddha's Feast (P295) which is a farrago of stir-fried vegetables like snow peas, broccoli, carrots, string beans, baked tofu and mushrooms sitting on a pool of saporous brown sauce. Each healthy element was bathed in that sauce providing a flavorful moisture in each bite. You can opt to have it just steamed but I plump for the sauce that comes with the stir-fry.
The Crispy Honey Shrimp (P425) is as engaging as the Spicy Chicken with its thin batter enshrouding tender pieces of prawns and a slather of honey sauce glistening against its surface. It proffers a lovely counter to the spiciness of the aforementioned chicken; perfect with the fried rice as well, if I may add.
I'm used to lemon chicken being served plain apart from the obligatory slice of lemon at the side so Philip's Better Lemon Chicken (P380) at first glance certainly came off as, well... better. Lavished with a citrusy yet dulcet sauce graced with broccoli and embellished with lemon slices, this version had the right tartness married with a gentle sweetness that appeals to and definitely satisfies the gastronomic senses.
My ultimate favorite (since I loved the others too) was the Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps (P285). Finely minced chicken mixed in a jumble with mushrooms, green onions, and water chestnuts lie on a bed of undulated snow-white crispy rice sticks. On the abutting plate rest cups of cool and fresh lettuce. I gingerly scoop a couple spoonfuls of chicken meat onto a crisp lettuce cup, fold one side over the other to form a nice, neat wrap and bring it slowly into my mouth. Ahh, bliss! The coolness of the lettuce preludes a warm bite of the mixed filling; my palate relishing its sweet savory taste riding on a glimmer of spicy note at the end. The flavors break into a symphony as I continue my consumption, with the rice sticks even lending a textural crunch. It was simply addicting that I would have hoarded the whole platter had I just let my manners fly out the window. My cousins requested that I make them some too, and each wrap that I handed out came with a litany of internal debate whether or not to give them some. In the end, goodness triumphed over greediness though I vowed to order my very own the next time I come here.
And lest I forget, I should also point out that when a lettuce cup was suddenly perched upon by a small fly, our waiter generously replaced it immediately with a new one, even offering to bring us more should we desire it. Talk about exemplary service.
To conclude my nephew's lunch celebration, we jokingly asked our waiter if they had something for the birthday boy. To our surprise, a few minutes later, they did manage to whip up a complimentary birthday ice cream complete with a mountain of ruffled whipped cream dotted with strawberry syrup, a slice of strawberry resting near the apex and a magic candle that doesn't get easily blown out. Some of the other crew came out to sing a birthday song before surreptitiously retreating back to the kitchen. Yet another testament to their exquisite service.
Spot: The Street (New Strip across Corte De Las Palmas) Alabang Town Center, Muntinlupa City
Contact No.: 687.5611 or 869.7837