By Nadine Kam
P.F. Chang co-founder Philip Chiang is in town to celebrate P.F. Chang Honolulu’s fifth anniversary in at Hokua.
The restaurant is offering a $27.95 per person five-year anniversary menu for parties of four or more (inquire about smaller party options) today through Oct. 9, with Chiang in the house on Oct. 8, when there will also be a celebration lion dance.
The family style anniversary dinner will feature starters of Chang’s poke and hot and sour soup; entrees of Oolong Chilean sea bass, Mongolian beef, shrimp and candied walnut and Singapore noodles; Sichuan green bean vegetable course; and dessert of Emperor’s blackberry rolls.
The restaurateur hosted a preview dinner on Wednesday, and such is Chiang’s stature that there were so many food writers in the house, considering that the much bigger “Chopsticks and Wine” event was taking place the same time in Waikiki.
For me, after several days of festival dining, it was quite a treat to be able to sit down for dinner and chat quietly. Well, maybe no so quietly because PFC Honolulu CEO Dean McPhail wanted to know what more I wanted to see out of his empire.
As for the man of the hour, Philip Chiang was kept busy posing for photos all evening. Photographer Rae Huo made sure she got a photo she could show her husband, who wouldn’t believe there was a real Chinese namesake behind the brand.
Guess how many fortune cookies fill this Mini Cooper and you could win a $500 P.F. Chang gift certificate. I’m usually good at calculating jellybeans in jars with a mix of adding and multiplying, but I pretty much wild guessed at this one. The contest ends Nov. 1. You can submit an entry online at http://www.pfchangshawaii.com/news/fortune-cookie-contest
Chiang was raised in Shanghai and grew up in Tokyo, before moving to San Francisco where his mother opened The Mandarin in the 1960s, one of the first Chinese restaurants in the United States to serve Chinese food from regions other than Canton. The Mandarin became widely known for its high-end cuisine.
Chiang graduated with a B.F.A. at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, and ran The Mandarin for several years before opening the off-shoot Mandarette in West Hollywood, offering a grazing menu that caught the attention of fellow restaurateur Paul Fleming, who was looking for a new opportunity. In 1992, Chiang agreed to consult on Fleming’s Chinese restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona. One year later, the first P.F. Chang’s China Bistro opened and today there are more than 200 locations worldwide.
Chiang continues to work as a culinary consultant overseeing new dish development at P.F. Chang. His love of art and design is reflected in the ambience at each of the restaurants, including handpainted murals, terra cotta warriors and 11-foot horses that grace the restaurants’ entries.
Dining in the open air lanai. We were told it would be a four-course dinner, but that didn’t take into account that there were three appetizers and a sampling of three entrees, turning it into eight courses.
Philip was ecstatic to see the Sichuan green beans perfectly cooked to his specs, with plenty of garlic, ginger and pepper, but also done to a still verdant, pliant crisp. He said he wants his chefs to cook as much with their eyes, as with regard to time and flavor. I love green beans cooked this way.
Everyone was tasting a new dessert of Emperor’s blackberry rolls that evening, a cream cheese and berry mix in a crisp spring roll. It was a hit. I’d call it a Chinese cannoli, and being that I haven’t found a good cannoli in town, this makes a great alternative.