"Lady, we ALL want PF Changs!" -Teletubby
As I took forever writing my soap opera columns last night, I veered from one food craving to another while not really feeling either 100 percent. At first, I was all about Pagliacci Pizza and their Pagliaccio Salad. Then P.F. Chang's crispy green beans dropped in uninvited.
P.F. Chang's won out. I'm still not entirely sure I really wanted the green beans. I just knew I was a little sick of the broiled chicken, rice and steamed vegetables routine for the past five days, but still wasn't out of the Asian kick. I wanted rice, with something.
I wasn't able to make it to P.F. Chang's last night. I finished my columns way too late for that. So tonight, I went to pick up those crispy green beans and Ma Po Tofu--their vegetarian item.
I've had and love mabo tofu with ground pork that you sometimes see in Hawaii's fast food Asian joints, with the soft tofu cubes and the mildly spicy, meaty sauce. So good with rice.
Maybe this Ma Po Tofu was the same deal. Here's hoping.
The tofu cubes were flash-fried or something, not soft and silken. Then, I realized mabo tofu can be Japanese. Yet, I've had mabo tofu at Panda Express in Honolulu! I think it can be both. In China, it's a Szechuan dish. There are variations of it in Japan and Korea, with flavors adjusted for the regions there. Maybe Mabo/Ma Po is like noodles in Asia. Noodles (or tofu) are the same, it's just how you prepare them.
P.F. Chang's does its Ma Po Tofu with the tofu blocks cooked up on the exterior, so that the feel is a little hard, textured. I prefer silken soft. Although I don't mind the gently flavorful sauce or the steamed broccoli that's still crunchy to the bite.
Next time, I'll try something different. I've usually just stuck to the same four dishes: crispy green beans, lettuce wraps, Singapore Street Noodles, and pan-fried shrimp dumplings. Maybe Chang's Spicy Chicken, Lo Mein Combo, Green Tea Noodles... Maybe even this Happy Hour I've heard so much about, with new items not found on the main menu. There's an Asian Pear Mojito, Lemongrass Chicken Dim Sum, and Spicy Shrimp Asian Street Taco with my name on it.
Don't ever order the Philip's Better Lemon Chicken, not if you've had better in Hawaii. P.F. Chang's "lightly dusted and quick-fried chicken served with broccoli in a tart, sweet citrus" is flavorless in the chicken and bland in the sauce.