6.20.2006

Dinner at P.F. Chang's

This evening was a last minute adjustment. Original plans to dine at Nuevo Leon in Pilsen were amended to congress at an eatery closer to Streeterville. It was an amendment of success. We were treated to P.F. Chang's China Bistro.

Located at 530 North Wabash, the northwest corner of the intersection of Wabash and Grand, it is only one block east of the Red Line Grand stop. With its friendly connection to public transportation, it is an easy choice for the pre-destination diner or the streetside walk up.

Moderately priced for the neighborhood, P.F. Chang's drew a casual after work array of guests. The kitchen was alive with orders and staffed by solid dining professionals. The food moves quickly from the refridgerator to your table. The wok preparation ensures a quick hot meal and still reserving time for a blending of flavors over intense heat.

Our waitress apparently skipped over the sauce demonstration to show guests the various blends they can generate with the base sauces available at each table. Rice wine vinegar, chili oil, soy sauce, hot mustard, spicy chili sauce and a mystery base product that had a salty, tangy taste to it.

I ordered the Sichuan by the Sea Calamari. My calamari binge continues as the seafood combines the texture of steak with the lightness of fish that I cannot resist. I'm dying to get my hands on some raw calamari fillets to experiment with my own combination of flavors. The Sichuan Calamari isn't fried calamari rings or fried baby calamari found in the appetizer section of a dozen chain eateries. It's squid fillets that are prime cuts. They're basted in corn starch and cooked in a sweet and spicy chili sauce to coat each piece of calamari with taste and texture. The crisp of the initial bite was complemented with the spice once the sauce hits your tongue.

I really enjoyed P.F. Chang's. It is on my list of returns. Other members of the party were already familiar with the joint, though they had not dined at this particular location before. They're expectations were high and their perceptions remain unchanged. P.F. Chang's is a great destination for Chinese cuisine.

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