Monday, January 20, 2014

P.F. Chang's: Greasy fingerprints, water spots and more

Spinach Stir-Fried with Garlic was the best dish I had for lunch today at P.F. Chang's in Hackensack.

I asked for Garlic Snap Peas, above, and Sichuan Asparagus, below, to be stir-fried with garlic like the spinach, but got two different preparations.

The asparagus were overcooked, and made with onions and bits of pickle.

Editor's note: Today, I discuss a mediocre lunch at P.F. Chang's China Bistro, the opening date for the all-you-can-eat Port of Call Restaurant, and where to go for great Chinese food, all in Hackensack.  


Water spots on both silverware and small plates on the table were unappetizing enough when I sat down for lunch today at P.F. Chang's China Bistro in Hackensack.

But I had to send back a large plate with a greasy thumb print the waitress set down in front of me, and saw more greasy fingerprints and food stains on a soy sauce container.

On top of that, an inexpensive lunch I have ordered at other P.F. Chang's here and in California wasn't as good as I remembered it, because the kitchen didn't get it right.

Utensils were wrapped in a cloth napkin, but the water stains on them and on small white plates were a turn-off. I asked for and ate with chopsticks.

Stick with Lotus Cafe

I should know better than to go anywhere in Hackensack for Chinese food but Lotus Cafe, a BYO at 450 Hackensack Ave., in the Home Depot Shopping Center.

But I've enjoyed ordering three side dishes of bright-green vegetables stir-fried with garlic at P.F. Chang's, a good deal when eaten with a complimentary bowl of brown rice.

However, what could go wrong did go wrong: 

The snap peas and asparagus weren't stir-fried simply with garlic, the asparagus were overcooked and the separate kernels of brown rice were difficult to eat with chopsticks.

Water spots on utensils and plates, and greasy fingerprints only added to my misery.

There is plenty of salt in the food. So, it's a mystery why soy sauce is on the table.

Small orders of vegetables are $2.50 each. A pot of green tea was $3.50, but it didn't appear on the check. 

Green tea was served in a traditional pot.

A friend ordered Mongolian Beef ($15.95) and a lunch portion of fried rice with pork and vegetables ($8.50), and liked them both. He took home most of the fried rice, and paid the tab.

I'm looking forward to the special Chinese New Year's Menu that will be served at Lotus Cafe, starting on Jan. 30.

My friend demolished the Mongolian Beef at P.F. Chang's.

When my friend asked to take home his largely untouched fried rice, the waitress brought a container and crammed the rice into it as we watched, instead of taking it away to be packed up in the kitchen.

The exterior and dining room, above and below.

Port of Call , which has three all-you-can-eat buffet restaurants in Florida, is expected to open this week in the Home Depot Shopping Center in Hackensack.

Delayed opening

Port of Call Restaurant is promising more than 200 items will be "served daily."

An employee said the all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant is expected to open on Wednesday. 

The food is described as American fusion and sushi, and there is enough variety for a dozen restaurants.

Lunch will be served Mondays to Fridays for $13.69. Saturday and Sunday brunch will be $17.69. Dinner will be served 7 days for $24.99 to $27.99.

These "introductory prices" are good until March 31. The buffet restaurant, which is opposite Lotus Cafe, was to open on Dec. 7, 2013.

P.F. Chang's China Bistro, The Shops at Riverside, 390 Hackensack Ave., Hackensack; 201-646-1565.

Lotus Cafe, Home Depot Shopping Center, 450 Hackensack Ave., Hackensack; 201-488-7070, BYO, parking lot.

Port of Call Restaurant, 450 Hackensack Ave., Hackensack; 201-488-0888. BYO, parking lot.

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