Friday, September 25, 2009

Girl Foodies' Night Out at... PF Chang's?

For a moment I think I’m going to be the only one. I timidly extract my Nikon Cool Pix digital camera from my clutch and glance nervously around the table at my dining companions -- Sonja from Active Foodie, Sook from Yutjangsah and Krissy Lefebvre, the woman LA Weekly food writer Jonathan Gold recently accurately described as “the Lucy to @chefludo's Ricky” on Twitter.

It’s a serious table of “foodies.” Sook recently dined at Providence, a two-star Michelin restaurant, Sonja has been making the rounds at LA Essential's Animal and Bistro LQ, and Krissy regularly noshes on foie gras terrines and fettuccini carbonara with duck bacon courtesy of her husband, Chef Ludo Lefebvre.

I know I’m about to embarrass myself in front of them, but I can’t seem to stop myself. A spread like the one before us is too impressive not to capture for posterity.

“I can’t resist.” I stammer, my cheeks burning with shame, and then I begin readying my camera for action.

I hear some riffling to my left. Sonya and Sook are digging for their cameras, as well, and seconds later are following my lead. Flash bulbs light up the dark space of our booth table as we position and reposition the dishes for optimal images. Krissy smiles in amusement and takes a picture of the scene on her iPhone. Moments later the image appears on Twitter.

One would think that the four of us are dining at one of the top restaurants in LA or, at the very least, an exclusive eatery with an impossible reservation system (oddly enough, this turns out to be slightly true for our location). Instead, we are at PF Chang’s, the Americanized Chinese chain restaurant that is conveniently located at many a mall across the United States.

The circumstances that brought us together aren’t really important. There was some tweeting, some very un-foodie confessions, and then, quite suddenly, I had myself three Sunday night dates for Girl’s Night Out at PF Chang’s. I didn’t know whether to be excited or repulsed.

I chose excited.

While the food was, predictably, just okay (twas a bit over sauced and tasted like it had been prepared factory-style), I couldn’t help but enjoy the process of eating it. I liked chomping my way through the lettuce wraps with ground chicken and water chestnuts, and I found myself going back for seconds of Sook’s favorite lemon pepper shrimp with bean sprouts, leeks and transformative chunks of lemon (rind attached). I was also happy to claim portions of my previous favorite – the crispy honey shrimp, the restaurant’s signature dish – the Mongolian beef, the slightly spicy Dan Dan Noodles with ground chicken, and the cleansing Buddha’s feast of stir-fried veggies and tofu.

Lettuce Chicken Wraps

Dan Dan Noodles

Mongolian Beef
Lemon Pepper Shrimp
Buddha's Feast
Crispy Honey Shrimp

I wasn’t ashamed to fill (and clear) my plate, and later, I wasn’t ashamed to eat both my complimentary bowl of coconut ice cream that our server brought each of us and a significant hunk of the New York-style cheesecake we ordered for the table. The coconut ice cream was delightfully chock full of chunks of coconut, and the cheesecake was more than “just okay” with its raspberry and white chocolate sauces and fresh berry accompaniments.

Ultimately, however, the food wasn’t really the point. The point was to eat, drink and be merry that Chef Ludo was conveniently on a plane to France so that Sook, Sonja and I could steal his lovely wife away for an evening. I hope the next time we dine together we’ll be toasting our wine glasses (filled with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc) for a different reason – a new location for the dearly missed Ludo Bites. (I call dibs on the first foie gras croque monsieur.)


Ashley said...

i love moments like these when you can indulge your inner high school eater self.

Jenn said...

Though, I'm not of a fan of PF Chang's You did pend a night with a few awesome people. So the night was worth it.

weezermonkey said...

I'm a firm believer that company is far more key to a good time than food. :)

glutster said...

everyone has to give in sometimes :)

Diana said...

Ashley - This was definitely my favorite place to go in HS. Well, that and Cheesecake Factory. ;)

Jenn - Totally worth - and relatively inexpensive too!

Sharon - Me too! Hope we can share a meal together soon. (But I wouldn't mind if the food was really good too!)

Javier - Hah, yes! Hope you had a nice time in Indonesia!

mattatouille said...

haha a hilarious angle you took. sometimes it's okay not to be a foodie and just have a good time. yes, i just said that. :)

Heather said...

sometimes going out is fun, no matter where you go. i like their lettuce wraps. they're predictable and good. not great, but you know what you're getting. i hope you're doing well :)

Derek Thomas said...

That cheesecake looks crazy delicious.

Kristine said...

Diana, for some reason I missed this before - sorry. Thanks for memorializing "girls night out." It was fun and YES I like PF Changs!! Best part was getting to know you ladies better without the pressure of hoping you are going to like our foie gras :)
See you soon - we hope.