Steve's Gastronomic Home Page

P. F. Chang's China Bistro

760 Sunland Park Dr.
El Paso, TX
(915) 845-0166

You know the state of Chinese food in El Paso is pretty pathetic when P. F. Chang's is one of the better restaurants in the city, but that is the case. It's not that Chang's is really good, but at least it is fairly consistent in providing upscale meals that taste pretty good, provide a pleasant experience, and do not pose the danger of giving you stomach or other problems that you might encounter at some of the other establishments.

Still, this is not enough for me to give it a very high score. I ordered the Ma Po Tofu because the menu stated that it was "Sichuan's famous dish of crispy silken tofu in a spicy vegetarian sauce with steamed broccoli." Actually the tofu was quite good, it was more than enough food, and at $6.95 it was a bargain by Chang's standards (the hot tea, though, was almost half the price of the meal). But the ma po tofu was so different from the authentic version I ate in Seattle that I did not even recognize it as the same dish. I also thought the broccoli was over the top in the amount they served, making the tofu look miniscule in comparison.

They also serve a Pot Sticker Sauce mixed at the table that was quite curious-- made of the base sauce, hot sauce, and mustard mixed together, along with vinegar if you want (you decide what proportion of each ingredient to mix), the server said it was "good on almost all the dishes to provide extra flavor." Hmmm...I thought Chinese food already had good sauces and didn't need a "standard sauce that is good on all dishes to provide extra flavor." I really thought the pot sticker sauce was terrible, and was a very poor substitute for putting a good sauce on the entrée to begin with.

The hot tea was very good-- it was almost worth what they charged for it.

There is about one server per four tables, so the service is very good. I thought the restroom needed cleaning, something surprising for an upscale restaurant.

In a sense it it a shame P. F. Chang's is so popular because there is a limited market for ethnic food (other than Mexican), and when all these restaurants offer non-authentic food (such as Chang's and the Grand China Buffet across the street), it just makes it less likely that we will ever see any more really good Chinese places. Although I liked P.F. Chang's in Orem, Utah, I was not impressed by the one in El Paso.



Cuisine: Chinese
Cost: $$$
Hours: Open Daily
Tea: Green (bags)
Smoking: No Smoking
Buffet: No

Most Recent Visit
Feb. 3, 2005

Number of Visits: 1

Special Ratings
Ma Po Tofu: