P.F. Chang’s Brings Brand-Name, Gluten-Free Food to Chinese Cuisine

Every town, big or small, seems to have a Chinese restaurant these days. Usually locally or family owned, these restaurants serve up familiar dishes in those nostalgic, white rectangular take-out boxes. The food itself, however, varies widely; some places serve deliciously prepared entrees. Others  gain a notoriety for food poisoning and low standards of quality.

For such a ubiquitous type of cuisine, I expected there to be many name-brand chains where people could come to expect the same, consistent dishes and flavors served at a steady, high quality. But alas, P.F. Chang’s, listed in our restaurant guide, is among the very few major names in Chinese cuisine to open multiple, national restaurants.

And the restaurant shines as its gluten-free menu provides customers with many great options to choose from.

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Like their Chang’s Chicken. Who thought that would be gluten-free? It’s breaded, fried, sugary and sweet, and utterly terrible for you. Just the way I like it.

For those who don’t have as much of a sweet tooth as I do, maybe Chang’s Chicken isn’t the way to go. So try their lettuce wraps. Honestly, when I saw the huge bowl of chicken and peanut medley with a stack of lettuce palms planted on a plate next to it, I was completely baffled. What an ugly garnish! I exclaimed.

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Kay and Annette looked at me quizzically then scooped up this suspicious smorgasbord into one of the lettuce palms and rolled it up like a burrito. I’ve tried lettuce wrap burgers once before, at Elevation Burger in Falls Church, to great success. I enjoyed this lettuce wrap idea, but the salt was layered on a bit heavy, and for some reason this dish, though gluten-free, tasted strongly of soy sauce; perhaps they used excessive amounts San-J’s gluten-free tamari (listed in our grocery guide), a bottle of which they left on our table with the meal.

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Their fried rice was, well, fried rice, exactly how you’d imagine it. In moderate amounts, the aforementioned tamari suited the rice quite nicely, which tasted quite delicious beneath a healthy portion of Chang’s Chicken. Dessert provided us with a cone-shaped flourless chocolate cake that was more fudge than anything else. Only a smidgen of real cake lay at the base. It was delicious, but entirely unusual and unexpected.

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Have any of you been to P.F. Chang’s? What did you think of its gluten-free menu? Let us know!

12 thoughts on “P.F. Chang’s Brings Brand-Name, Gluten-Free Food to Chinese Cuisine”

  1. P.F. Chang’s used to be one of my favorite indulgences. Its location next to Powell’s in Portland made for a great ‘dinner and a bookstore’ date combination for my wife and I (who could ask for more!?).

    Unfortunately the last two times we went out to P.F. Chang’s, I spent the following days dealing with the consequences of some of the worst gluten poisoning I have experienced (and I have been diagnosed celiac for 20 years). Generally I do not experience any noticeable symptoms from small exposures such as cross contamination, so I’m not sure if we were just unlucky enough to have a careless chef or waiter, but we have not been back for a couple of years.

    I have not read of any similar experiences from other celiacs, and I still sometimes get the urge to give them another try. But still not quite over the trauma.

  2. I love PF Changs. They seem to take all the proper precautions to ensure a good gluten-free meal:

    – Separate plates that indicate the gluten free items
    – Well trained staff
    – Delicious entrees that they have made gluten free (not just steak and potatoes with no seasonings)

    I would highly recommend that any and all Celiac’s visit PF Changs and try it out just once – you won’t regret it!

  3. I eat at PF Changs about every two months, both sit-down and take-out and have never had a problem. The selection for GF diners is tremendous and food is very good. I always double check with the server that the food was prepared gluten-free when they bring out the food. Take-out food has GF written on the containers.

  4. I understand the founder’s (Fleming) daughter is celiac and any location that you have an adverse reaction to should be reported to the corporate offices, as that is majorly against their policy. Same goes for Outback and Fleming’s Steakhouses. They share the same founders. I have had good results at the restaurants, although I have found some variances- some will do a custom menu beyond the offerings- I am Vegan and my husband Celiac, so we try to accomodate both for the same items so that we can share, and they usually will go out of their way to make that work. Orlando will modify the lettuce wraps to be Vegan and GF while Newport Beach does not, etc. However, Newport did other things equally as caring. Do report any negative experiences. I used to be a member of the National Restaurant Association and was in major meetings with many chain execs regarding discussion of gluten free menus- the execs and owners are adamantly wanting that to be at their chains- they realize the need and importance of this issue. It not always gets carried down to staff, and they need to know.

  5. I finally went to a PF Changs a few months back. what a wonderful experience. Food was great and I had no problems. I agree that the dessert was more fudge than cake. I won’t order it again. But going back for dinner, you bet. I have to drive an hour to get to one, so its a special treat.

  6. Like Isaac, I used to go to PF Changs often, but stopped after being contaminated twice this year- at two different locations. I mentioned over and over to the server how important it was for my meal to be GF, that I had gotten sick at another location. She assured me she would take care of me. I wrote to PF Chang’s and told them they need to re-educate their staff…they sent me a gift card, which I gave to someone who can eat their regular fare.

  7. I love PF Chang’s GF options. Along with gluten and wheat I have other allergies: dairy, eggs, chicken, soy, and honey; and they very senstive to all my needs. Thanks.

  8. I can’t say enough good about the PF Chang’s in Salt Lake City.
    Awesome GF food, never had a problem.
    I eat there as often as I can. I also love their fast food version, Pei Wei.
    Both have been safe for me. Enjoy!

  9. I have been disappointed the times I’ve gone. They only have one vegetarian gluten-free option. Steamed veggies and rice. Now while I like rice and I like veggies, they don’t make for a very filling meal. And at their prices, it’s a bit ridiculous to get a “meal” that isn’t satisfying.

  10. My husband is gluten intolerant, and we went to PF Changs when we discovered they had a glutenfree menu. Food was great. We tried the chocolate cake; my husband loved it. It was way too sweet for me; I agree that it was more like fudge than cake, but the presentation was beautiful!

  11. I love the PF Changs’ and eat regularly at restaurants in St Louis and West Des Moines. With the server knowledge, GF menu, square rather than round plates to identify a GF meal, and never a bad reaction, I feel the safest eating at this restaurant chain. The food is delicious.

  12. Both my daughters can’t eat gluten so we have been eating gluten free for years. The one restaurant we have always turned to with complete security has been PF Changs. We have eaten at their chains in Ohio, Florida, Chicago, Tennesse and Never had any problems. They make a point of putting the food on distinct plates with a black border. I always ask the server when it’s brought to the table to double check it was made gluten free.

    The staff has always been wonderful and accommodating. They are a bit expensive but it’s one place we can take we can eat has a family. I would tell any manager or corporate office if you experience a problem. You owe it to yourself and to others that come after you. The owners would want to know! Don’t give up on them.

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