Chain-ease

So it was Monday night and all I wanted was decent Chinese food. And by decent I mean no Shanghai Express. That’s reserved for 2 AM when nothing else is open. Plus who doesn’t like egg rolls, fried dumplings and General Tso’s after a few beverages? Not anyone I associate with. As much as Raleigh’s food scene has improved over the years, still no great Chinese food. Peace China? Red Dragon? Ehhh. Not terrible by any means, but not good enough to keep me coming back. David’s Noodle Bar is tasty, but I miss his old place, Mandarin House in Cameron Village. I remember going there as a kid with my dad, eating wonton soup, thinking it was cool to drink hot tea out of those little teapots they would leave on the table so you could pour your own. Plus my dad would always get the special fried rice with the Chinese sausage. He still talks about that fried rice today. So whats’s a guy to do? Visit P.F. Chang’s obviously. Nothing says authentic Chinese food more than a chain at the mall. Plus as many of you have read before I have an affinity for visiting chain restaurants.  See Chain Reaction or I Did Not Eat Olive It. So being inside PF Chang’s you do feel like you are at the mall because it’s big and shiny, full of giant statues of horses and samurai, and a whole lot of gringos. A Chang’s Mai Tai and lettuce wraps seemed like a great way to start the meal. Tiki drinks are all the rage now, so i figured why not. I was actually expecting it to be super sweet because most of the cocktails  I have ordered at chains have been overly sugary and fake tasting. This Mai Tai, not too bad my friends. I think it contained real juice. After eating the lettuce wraps at Bida Manda a hundred times, I have been spoiled in the world of lettuce wraps. There is something about their crispy rice and crunchy peanuts that makes me order is every single time.  The PF Chang’s version although flavorful,  pales in comparison. They used watery iceberg lettuce which I love for my wedge salad, but not for wraps. Shit. Now I want to go to Bida Manda. So for an entree, I got the Dali Chicken, a favorite of mine from the last time was at Chang’s, maybe 10 years ago? Yeah, it’s been a while. Sauteed chicken with potatoes, scallions, and red chiles. As my better half put it, tasted kinda like Chinese buffalo sauce. Spicy and filling, what else could I ask for.  The verdict? A fruity cocktail and some spicy chicken later, I satisfied my craving for Chinese food. Would I have liked to spend my money at a local establishment? Of course, but sometimes a visit to a chain is all you need. It’s like the Saturday morning trip to Bojangle’s or the late night Taco Bell visit. There is something soothing about the sweet tea and seasoned fries, or the crunchy taco with fire sauce. You hate yourself later, but at the time it’s all you need. Until the next chain, cheers foodies!

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