As you may know it’s hard work to review restaurants and
stay be slim. In order to get the best experience to share with you, my readers, I usually want to try as much of the menu as possible. Usually this is aided by going with other bloggers (e.g. the Love Pop Ups London gang!), where we can all share food. But I also wanted to challenge myself to make healthier choices when eating out. So the focus for this blog is Can you eat healthily at PF Chang’s? I went to their London branch in Covent Garden to find out…..
*Full disclosure my meal and drinks at PF Chang’s were free in return for this blog. I was invited via Love Pop Ups London. All opinions, as ever, remain my own!*
Can you eat healthily at PF Chang’s?
Location of PF Chang’s Covent Garden, London
PF Changs in London is in the Covent Garden area, however the nearest tube station is Leicester Square, literally around the block.
You’ll find the restaurant under the awning:
As you walk in, you go past the bar area, with high tables. Perfect for drinks and PF Chang’s renowned snacks. All the regular dining tables are towards the back of the room, where you can see the kitchen.
PF Chang’s: food
Having decided that I would attempt to eat healthily, I had already stalked their menu online. Find it here: PF Chang’s main menu
One of our group is eating veggie due to health reasons and she was concerned about the lack of vegetarian options. There don’t appear to be any vegetarian or vegan alternatives for the main dishes, and just one noodle dish that is vegetarian. However she was able to try several veggie side dishes, so enough to fill her up.
Read on below to see what we actually ate:
This is the first potential pitfall for PF Chang’s as they are known for their deep fried snacks! This includes their famous Original Dynamite Shrimp, Crispy Calamari, Spring Rolls and even Crispy Green Beans for the veggies.
Healthier options include Edamame, which are steamed soya beans. For something a bit larger, try what I had: The Original Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps.
With wok-seared chicken, mushrooms, spring onions and water chestnuts served with rice sticks and lettuce cups. If you leave the rice sticks out, then this is a healthy stir fry in a lettuce wrap. Whilst the wrap is healthier being lettuce, rather than pastry, I’m not sure that the sauces are gluten free (always ask the staff if you have allergies!).
So whilst the chicken lettuce wrap wasn’t the most elegant to eat, it was filling and on the healthy side.
For mains, the healthier options include salad (but who goes out for dinner and orders salad?! Also some salad dressings are the worst offenders in terms of calories!). PF Chang’s also serve sushi, for a lighter choice, however a lot of those dishes involve cream cheese or deep fried shrimp…. not so healthy.
However a lot of their stir fries are healthy – like the Ginger Chicken Broccoli, or Sesame Chicken – basically avoid the dishes with battered chicken and shrimp and you can’t go too far wrong. They also have dishes with grilled salmon, lamp chops or the Asian Marinated Rib Eye if you are feeling wealthy (£19!)
I wanted to get a dish that incorporated protein, veggies and carbs, so I wouldn’t be tempted with side dishes. So instead of the stir fry or grill, I chose a noodle dish, Singapore Street Noodles. This came with shrimp, chicken and fresh veggies with rice noodles and curry sauce.
The noodles were satisfying, with lovely large shrimp and finely sliced veggies. Whilst these were marked as spicy on the menu, they were on the low side of spicy compared to some of the other mains!
Eating Vegetarian at PF Chang’s
They also have a vegetable Lo Mein Noodle, but this is the ONLY veggie main. So my veggie friend went with a selection of the vegetable sides:
She let me try the aubergine and the cauliflower and they were great. The aubergine was cooked with Thai basil, ginger and spring onions and so was super fresh and fragrant. I’d eat this as a main dish for sure! The cauliflower mimicked chicken wings in it’s treatment and was also tasty with the sweet and spicy sauce, but less healthy.
With my noodle dish I managed to escape the trap of ordering extra sides. Some of my friends ending up taking food home as they had large portions when rice and other dishes were added. So a healthy win here too.
Drinks menu at PF Chang’s
Let’s pause for a minute and consider the drinks. Now if you are watching the calories then you really should skip drinks. However on a night out with friends, you’re going to have a drink. In that case I have 2 recommendations:
1 – Stick to spirits and light mixers, resist the cocktails with sugar in them. (In my case I just had a strong negroni – spirits mixed with more spirits. In my defense they have a cask-aged section to the cocktail menu that I couldn’t resist)
2 – Choose a dry white wine – PF Chang’s have a decent Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc depending on your price point (£25/£33).
With my negroni and then some wine, I didn’t do too bad here. But the healthiest option would have been to stick with water…
PF Chang’s Desserts
Yes readers, I feel off the wagon here…. oops! But look at the level of temptation:
The White Chocolate Bomb had the Instagrammers in us dying to video (as you can see!). The toffee sauce melts through to show the honeycomb, cocoa nibs, popping candy, chocolate soil and hazelnut ice cream. Pretty hard to resist!
I fell at the Flourless Chocolate Cake though. This is actually a mousse cake and was very well executed:
The chocolate mouse was rich and a great texture. The blackberry sauce went with it really well and despite it being a very tall portion (i.e. big) I wasn’t overwhelmed by the chocolate flavour.
There isn’t really a healthy option on the dessert menu…. I guess sorbet maybe?
Overall I felt that the UK menu was more limited than the US PF Chang’s menu and I was very surprised that they didn’t have any vegetarian or vegan main options. However when assessed for healthy options, these do exist and they are tasty and filling.
The key things to watch out for when ordering healthy at PF Chang’s is portion size, deep fried items and sauces. To eat healthy you want to stick to the stir fry options and avoid sauces with high fat, like spicy mayo or high sugar, like sweet and sour. Going with friends gives you the perfect opportunity to order sides to share, so that you don’t over order.
All I have to recommend is avoiding the cocktails and dessert menu, as they are too enticing and will let you down!
Let me know what you are ordering when you visit PF Chang’s in Covent Garden, London!
A big thanks to PF Chang for hosting us and to Love Pop Ups London for the opportunity!