REVIEW: P.F. Chang’s Home Menu Shanghai Style Beef

I don’t dine regularly at P.F. Chang’s because the horse statues in front of their restaurants freak me out. I swear they’re watching me with their blank stone eyes. I’m also afraid, while during the 30-45 minute wait time to be seated, the statues will start glowing, come to life and then chase after me like I’m in an episode of Scooby-Doo.

But I don’t have to face possible horse spirits anymore because I can now enjoy P.F. Chang’s at home with only my personal demons, thanks to their Home Menu line of frozen meals. There are eight varieties: Beef with Broccoli, Orange Chicken, Sweet & Sour Chicken, Ginger Chicken & Broccoli, Shrimp in a Garlic Sauce, General Chang’s Chicken, Shrimp Lo Mein and Shanghai Style Beef.

However, with the Shrimp Lo Mein and Shanghai Style Beef, you won’t be experiencing the frozen versions what you would get at a P.F. Chang’s restaurant since they don’t appear on the menu. The Shanghai Style Beef contains slices of beef with a sweet and savory sauce, onions, string beans and red bell peppers. Unfortunately, unlike the Wanchai Ferry frozen meals, the P.F. Chang’s Home Menu Shanghai Style Beef doesn’t include a starch, like rice or noodles.

To prepare the meal that foolishly doesn’t include rice, you have the option of either preparing it on the stove top or in the way that would’ve made Percy Spencer elated. Since he’s dead and I don’t expect what’s left of his body to start glowing, come back to life and chase after me, I decided to shun Percy Spencer’s invention and kick it stove top style, which involved dumping the contents of the bag into a skillet and letting everything cook for several minutes.

When prepared, the P.F. Chang’s Home Menu Shanghai Style Beef is a very pretty dish. The string beans are a healthy green, like alluring green eyes; the bell peppers are a nice bright red, like luscious red lips; and the beef comes in an edible shade of brown, like perfectly tanned skin. It’s so pretty that if it were a woman in a nightclub, I’d go up to her and say, “You have a beautiful face. I hope it’s the first thing I see when I wake up tomorrow morning.” After that line, I’d expect her to pour her Cosmopolitan on top of my head, laugh at me and yell “jerk” as she storms away.

While it looks pretty on the outside, making out…I mean, eating it out…I mean, consuming it helped me discover that it might be better to look at than eat. The sauce is supposed to be sweet and savory, and it is. But it’s also too mild for my tastes. As for the beef, the slices are a nice size, but I was disappointed I couldn’t really taste the flavor of the beef.

The only things the P.F. Chang’s Home Menu Shanghai Style Beef really has going for itself are the serving sizes, which I thought were ample for two people, and the fact I don’t have to make eye contact with eerie stone horses to eat P.F. Chang’s food.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 package (312 g) – 320 calories, 12 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 1010 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 23 grams of sugar, 17 grams of protein, 10% vitamin A, 10% calcium, 20% vitamin C and 30% iron.)

Item: P.F. Chang’s Home Menu Shanghai Style Beef
Price: $7.00
Size: 22 ounces
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Quick to prepare on the stove. Looks really good. Good sized portions for two people. Allows me to eat P.F. Chang’s food without having to make eye contact with scary stone horses. Knowing who the inventor of the microwave oven is. Scooby Doo.
Cons: Sauce is too mild for my tastes. Lacks rice or noodles, which other Asian frozen meal competitors have. Can’t really taste the flavor of the beef. Awesome source of sodium. Waiting for a table at P.F. Chang’s. The horse statues outside of a P.F. Chang’s restaurant.

15 thoughts to “REVIEW: P.F. Chang’s Home Menu Shanghai Style Beef”

  1. I had a crappy evening out one time at a P.F. Chang’s and I don’t think I’ve ever been back to one. I like Pei Wei all right, though.

  2. Absolutely loved the shout out to Percy Spencer. I am kicking myself for not knowing the inventor of the microwave oven. I will be sure to use this fact in every conversation I have today so I will not forget it. I plan on having lots of awkward non-sequitor conversations today. Well played.

  3. Bland food from a chain restaurant designed to appeal to a demographic who find “real” Chinese food unpalatable? How surprising.

  4. i haven’t tried any of these yet… but i was actually really happy to hear they don’t include rice or noodles. i just feel like that’s such an inexpensive item to add on your own. at $7 a pack, I definitely wouldn’t buy it if it were half full of white rice.

  5. I don’t get the no rice or noodles thing either. For 50 cents you can quickly make a mountain of rice or noodles … why pay $18 a pound for rice? It’s like you’re complaining about not getting ripped off …

  6. @Chuck: Pei Wei > P.F. Chang’s > P.F. Chang’s Home Menu. I like Pei Wei (although I only had it once), so I don’t know why P.F. Chang’s is so lame.

    @Tim: This is how you should do it. Get a unpopped bag of microwave popcorn, point at it and say, “I’m gonna Percy Spencer yo’ ass.”

    @Review Spew: I don’t eat TGIF frozen stuff because it doesn’t come with an overly energetic server wearing flair.

    @Molly: If the scary horses outside their restaurants were real and they cut them up for meat, that would be a little bit closer to “real” Chinese food.

    @Erika: True, while rice is an inexpensive item to add on your own, I think having to cook your own rice kind of defeats the purpose of this product being a quick serve meal.

    @rob: I’m complaining about the inconvenience. The purpose of frozen meals is all about convenience. Don’t have to chop vegetables. Don’t need to slice meat. Don’t need to chop chicken. Basically, one doesn’t need to prepare ingredients beforehand. The instructions for most frozen meals is either stick it in the microwave or conventional oven for a certain amount of time, or put it in a skillet for a certain amount of time. Then BOOM! Dinner is ready. Having to make your own rice, may be cheap, but it’s that extra step that makes it inconvenient. If I’m at store and I see the Wanchai Ferry frozen meal, which comes with rice, and the P.F. Chang’s frozen meal, which doesn’t, and they both cost the same, I’m going to buy the Wanchai Ferry one because it’s more convenient. It has everything I need, so I don’t have to bust out a pot or rice cooker to cook rice and then wash the pot or rice cooker after dinner. The Wanchai Ferry meal fits my lazy mofo lifestyle.

  7. It looks better than most frozen Chinese food. But yeah, since it really takes a few minutes to cut up a bit of steak and drop in the peas at least I know I can cook the same dish pretty quickly without the extra chemicals. I gave up on frozen food a while ago except for the occasional frozen pizza since you can easily take a cheese one and add all the toppings you ever wanted. Making pizza dough takes an hour or so and I really limit making my own to when we’re out of food.
    In regards to this one, luckily it’s quick and easy to stick some rice in the rice cooker and just let it cook for 15 minutes. No effort. I’ve never liked the taste of frozen rice. Closer to eraser bits than to rice in my opinion. MMMM horse meat. A lot leaner and tastier than beef, but not as delicious as lamb!

  8. Pretty good if you’re trying to cut back on fav foods but otherwise just go to the resteraunt

  9. Just bought the Shanghai Style Beef and we’re really looking forward to trying it tonight. I live in a city where the closest P.F. Changs is 50+ miles away, and I dearly miss going there when I lived in Colorado. Never been disappointed with any of their dishes. I Am SO glad that rice is not included with the entre. That just grosses me out cause you know what, I like my rice freshly cooked and with Asian, the rice is always Jasmine rice.

  10. Hello,

    Tonight I tried the orange chicken and was very disapointed. The sauce and vegetables were not good. I am skeptical to try any other entre. I love the food at PF Change. I will still attend.

  11. This was one of the worst frozen meals I have ever purchased. The “beef” was like chewing old tires. The sauce was boring…the beans tough… No thanks to PF Changs.

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