PF Chang’s Asian Table in Covent Garden: Popular flavours in a relaxed format
Popular family-friendly restaurant brand PF Chang, first opened in 1993 by Paul Flemming and Philip Chaing, quickly spread out across 210 US outposts and 95 restaurants around the world, dominating the market with its farm-to-wok ethos. This chain eatery opened its first London premise near Leicester square in 2017, relying on its established worldwide reputation and proximity to the many theatres and tourist attractions for its heavy footfall.
Slick black awnings and smart signage mark our arrival. We are welcomed into an enormous dining room with a bar flanked by stools and higher sharing tables nearer the front. Lower seating dominates the space further in, as does the open kitchen. Provocative murals appear on the whitewashed brick walls, with stairs leading down to The Pastry Lab, where the desserts are created in-house, the space often used for special events.
For an early Monday dinner, the place is heaving with an eclectic mix of birthday parties, dates and after-work dinners. We start our own festivities with two of their speciality cocktails. Luck + Fortune blends a savoury fusion of gin and Thai basil over mandarin liquor, while Miyamoto with Ginsing and grapefruit is zesty and refreshing. Both work well alongside our choice of starters: homemade vegetable spring rolls plumped up with julienne vegetables and a delicious sweet chilli sauce followed by a crispy stack of tempura green beans paired with creamy aioli.
Unfortunately, the lack of vegetarian and vegan main dish options here is a shame given the current food awareness and trends. The Lo Mein vegetable noodles do not dazzle and it would be nice to have a tofu option to bulk it out and add texture. A side of silky, flavoursome Chinese chilli aubergine was a better veggie alternative, served with a bowl of the tasty, fluffy jasmine fried rice – which also went well with the main of tender sesame chicken with broccoli (although our plate was missing the red peppers which were pictured on the menu).
For dessert, we opted for the show-stopping white chocolate bombe filled with sickly pieces of honeycomb. The waitress poured over warming toffee sauce whilst we grabbed our camera phones and watched the chocolate slowly disintegrate. The chocolate flourless mousse cake was made to share and needed the vanilla ice cream and sprinkle of blackberries to mute all that gooey richness.
As a chain, PF Chang is capable of bringing people together to enjoy fresh, homemade ingredients and Asian decor, and in this regard, it doesn’t disappoint. However, if there are plans for a UK expansion, there’s probably a few tweaks that need to be made in order to continue the brand’s notorious success.
Photos: Matthew Pull
To book a table at PF Chang’s Asian Table, 10 Great Newport Street Covent Garden London WC2H 7JA, call 019 2355 5161 or visit their website here.