Merrill Shindler - Senior Zagat Editor

Merrill Shindler

L.A. Senior Zagat Editor

For Whom the Bell Chang’s

To survive in the highly competitive world of nationwide restaurants, you have to strike a careful balance between consistency -- and a willingness to change. A Big Mac is a Big Mac is a Big Mac. And yet, with regular irregularity, fans of Mickey D's show up for McRib sandwiches -- a break from routine, that makes everything taste that much fresher. In the case of PF Chang's, diners can always count on Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps, their Salt & Pepper Calamari, their Northern-Style Spareribs, their Crispy Honey Chicken. But these days, there's something more -- more for those who crave something more.

Gently, carefully, PF Chang's has begun to explore the very tasty world of the cooking of Southeast Asia with a handful of dishes from Thailand -- and an acknowledgement of the flavors of Vietnamese as well. These days, the menu includes such temptations Thai Basil Greens Salad, Vietnamese Crab Salad, Thai Chicken Noodle Salad and, for a limited time, Pad Thai Noodles (with chicken, shrimp, or both). Very tasty stuff -- and hopefully a harbinger of more to come. At the same time, there's also a Gluten-Free Menu, with 16 "GF" dishes -- including Crab Fried Rice, Chang's Spicy Chicken, and Singapore Street Noodles. Making what was already America's most popular family-friendly Chinese restaurant -- that much more family-friendly.

With dozens of branches from coast to coast, from Boston to Boca Raton and Bethesda to Bellevue (including several dozen in California), it's time to stop viewing the PF Chang's China Bistro chain as a clever novelty (born in the very non-Asian enclave of Scottsdale, Arizona in 1993) – a clever attempt at creating an authentic Chinese restaurant in a user-friendly setting that won't scare away those who find Monterey Park a little too real. In a very real sense, PF Chang's is how many American perceive Chinese food. It may not be as ubiquitous as the Panda Inn chain. But it also comes across as more serious in terms of its cuisine. Chang's is the bellwether for where we're going, en masse, in terms of the diverse cooking of China.

The menu is large at Chang's, even though it's something of a greatest hits list, offering about 130 dishes – minimalist in terms of local Chinese restaurants, but still plenty to choose from), with a Pan-China selection of dishes from Canton, Shanghai, Szechwan, Hunan and Mongolia. This is a Chinese restaurant for those who want cloth napkins, waiters who ask if they're enjoying their meal, a glass of something other than generic white wine poured from a gallon bottle.

At PF Chang's, the style is brisk, breezy, open, light and very, well, California. If anything, this is a child of Chinois on Main, with its seats at the kitchen counter, allowing diners to spend a pleasant evening watching the chefs do what they do.

In terms of food, PF

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2801 N. Pacific Ave. #101
Atlantic City, NJ 08401
(609) 348-­4600 See the location of P.F. Chang's - Atlantic City on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese
Services: Affordable Dining, Family Style, Online Take Out , Private Dining, Catering, Takeout, Reservations
10 Port Imperial Blvd.
West NY, NJ 07093
(201) 866-­7790 See the location of P.F. Chang's - West NY on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese
Services: Affordable Dining, Family Style, Online Take Out , Private Dining, Catering, Takeout, Reservations
500 Route 73 S., Space G1
Marlton, NJ 08053
(856) 396-­0818 See the location of P.F. Chang's - Marlton on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese
Services: Affordable Dining, Family Style, Online Take Out , Private Dining, Catering, Takeout, Reservations
390 Hackensack Ave., Suite 50
Hackensack, NJ 07601
(201) 646-­1565 See the location of P.F. Chang's - Hackensack on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese
Services: Affordable Dining, Family Style, Online Take Out , Private Dining, Catering, Takeout, Reservations
3545 US Hwy 1
Princeton, NJ 08540
(609) 799-­5163 See the location of P.F. Chang's - Princeton on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese
Services: Affordable Dining, Family Style, Private Dining, Catering, Takeout, Reservations
3710 Rt. 9, Suite 2817
Freehold, NJ 07728
(732) 308-­1840 See the location of P.F. Chang's - Freehold on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese
Services: Affordable Dining, Family Style, Online Take Out , Private Dining, Catering, Takeout, Reservations
 
301 N Harrison St - Princeton Shopping Center
Princeton, NJ 08540
(609) 924-­8001 See the location of Shanghai Park on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese
Services: Affordable Dining, Authentic, Takeout, Reservations
 
6915 Boulevard E
West New York, NJ 07093
(201) 861-­0268 See the location of Asian Hudson Chinese & Japanese Cuisine on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese Cuisine
535 Old Marlton Pike
Marlton, NJ 08053
(856) 489-­8818 See the location of China Express - Marlton on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese
Services: Affordable Dining, Authentic, Takeout
450 60th Street
West New York, NJ 07093
(201) 868-­0630 See the location of China Town on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese Cuisine
336B Main St.
Hackensack, NJ 07601
(201) 343-­5533 See the location of Green Apple on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese
Services: Authentic, Takeout, Delivery
238 Hudson St.,
Hackensack, NJ 07601
(201) 342-­1718 See the location of Hackensack China House on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese
Services: Authentic, Takeout, Delivery
1225 Rte 206
Princeton, NJ 08540
(609) 921-­0995 See the location of Hunan Chinese Restaurant on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese
Services: Affordable Dining, Authentic, Takeout, Delivery
157 Witherspoon Street
Princeton, NJ 08542
(609) 921-­6950 See the location of Hunan Chinese Restaurant on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese
145 Rt. 73 S.
Marlton, NJ 08053
(856) 985-­1551 See the location of Joe's Peking Duck House on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese
Services: Authentic, Takeout
179 South St. (Rt 79)
Freehold, NJ 07728
(732) 303-­1883 See the location of Jumbo Kitchen on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese
Services: Authentic, Takeout, Delivery
795 Rt 70 E.
Marlton, NJ 08053
(856) 596-­8990 See the location of King Wong - Yolasite on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese
Services: Affordable Dining, Authentic, Takeout, Delivery
450 Hackensack Ave.
Hackensack, NJ 07601
(201) 488-­7070 See the location of Lotus Café - NJ on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese
Services: Authentic, Takeout, Delivery
4437 Route 27 # 9
Princeton, NJ 08540
(609) 252-­1688 See the location of Ming's Garden on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese
Services: Affordable Dining, Authentic, Takeout
Monmouth Mall
Eatontown, NJ 07724
(732) 389-­8860 See the location of Old Town Buffet on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese Cuisine
Hwy 33
Englishtown, NJ 07726
(732) 308-­9700 See the location of Peking Pavilion on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese, Chinese Cuisine, Asian, Szechuan, Cantonese, Hunan
Services: Authentic, Private Dining, Catering, Takeout, Reservations
301 N Harrison St - Princeton Shopping Center
Princeton, NJ 08540
(609) 924-­8001 See the location of Shanghai Park on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese
Services: Affordable Dining, Authentic, Takeout, Reservations
3338 US-9
Freehold, NJ 07728
(732) 431-­2323 See the location of Subway Sandwiches & Salads on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese
Services: Authentic, Family Style, Catering, Takeout
311 Nassau Park Blvd.
Princeton/West Windsor , NJ 08540
(609) 987-­9168 See the location of Super Star East Buffet on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese, Chinese Cuisine, Asian
Services: Affordable Dining, Authentic, Family Style, Catering, Takeout, Delivery, Reservations
21 Belleville Avenue
Bloomfield, NJ 07003
(973) 748-­6669 See the location of Taste Restaurant & Lounge on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese Cuisine
260 Nassau Street
Princeton, NJ 08542
(609) 252-­0663 See the location of Tiger Noodles on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese, Chinese Cuisine, Asian
Services: Affordable Dining, Authentic, Catering, Takeout, Delivery
1167 State Highway No 27
Highland Park, NJ 08904
(732) 572-­4246 See the location of Wang GA TOFU & BBQ Restaurant on a map Map
Cuisine: Chinese Cuisine