Surrey’s Premier Lifestyle Magazine

My month in food

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Stephanie Brookes, foodie expert and BBC Radio London contributor, offers her pick of an eating establishment for this month: P.F. Chang’s Asian Table in Great Newport Street.

As we fast approach the end of the year, I often find my culinary appetite changes with the season, and on those cold, wintry days, I’m all about comfort food. I’m even looking for the kind of food I can share with family and friends, which I admit, in the past, has not always been my strongest point. I’ve mentioned in a previous column my aversion for sharing plates, however, exceptions can be made, especially in the case of the newly-arrived US import, P.F. Chang’s Asian Table in Great Newport Street.

In the US, P.F. Chang’s is an already well-established and beloved chain for its unique take on Asian food, combining traditional dishes with a modern, street food influence. This is what would be called relaxed dining, with an emphasis on comforting, familiar classics, yet there is a genuine dedication to the finer details, with locally-sourced produce and all components of the menu being freshly made on-site.

As you dine, you can even observe as some of the chefs carefully prepare the dumplings, egg rolls and wontons. On the basement level of the restaurant, head pastry chef, Helen Clark, creates a tempting array of desserts right before your eyes, which is more than enough to encourage diners to save a little room for after the main feasting. This devotion to quality is what instantly makes this particular chain stand out, not forgetting head chef, Deepak Kotian, who previously worked at the perennially popular Nobu. This is a restaurant with its attention focused on all the right elements, while never forgetting its roots in relaxed, casual dining.
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Photo copyright: Stephanie Brookes
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For those more organised than myself who book ahead of time, request a table towards the back of the restaurant – close to the open kitchen – as it offers a more social, energetic atmosphere, perfect for larger gatherings. If popping by for drinks and nibbles, have a seat at the bar which is a much more intimate affair, and order the FIZU cocktail: a fresh concoction of sparkling Sake, cucumber and lemon oil.

The menu is a head-spinning offering of small and larger plates, however, the knowledgeable staff can assist on choosing the right food ratio for a table. As is the case with a greedy food writer, I ordered with abandon, first requesting one of their most popular dishes, The Original Dynamite Shrimp. This ‘starter’, if you could call it that, is a generously stacked dish of golden-hued tempura battered shrimp, glazed with a spicy, Sriracha aioli. The fleshy, moist shrimp encased in the lightest, crisp coating left us all in an increasingly heated debate as to who should have the last piece. To save any food related quarrels, just order an extra portion...or two.
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Another great addition to the small sharing plates was the arrival of the Pan-seared Pork Dumplings. These sticky parcels wrapped a tender pork filling, which was made all the more gratifying with the seared, slightly chewy outer layer.

A generous, tumbling mound of Kung Pao Chicken was the centrepiece of the meal. This classic Sichuan dish has long been a favourite of mine for its wok-fried crispy outer layer, matched with the fiery hit of fresh, red chilli and the buttery crunch of peanuts. The chicken was unanimously crowned dish of the day, but only by a small margin.

The side dish of Chilli Aubergine was a triumph, not least for our bafflement on how this cooked aubergine still retained its vibrant purple outer skin. The sweetness of the aubergine combined with the gentle heat of the Fresno peppers and the herbal hit of Thai basil was the most perfect celebration of the humble aubergine – a thoroughly exceptional side dish.
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Photo copyright: Stephanie Brookes
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As my nana used to say: “Your eyes are bigger than your belly” rang through my ears as we endeavoured to conquer every last dish on our table. I didn’t think I could have eaten another morsel, but then the glorious dessert menu was swiftly placed on the table, despite our faux protestations. Our server had told us at the start of the meal that should a little room be spared after the savoury element, the Apple Dumpling was the perfect way to end. Well, I suppose it would be rude not to...

A delicately crisp filo parcel encased the softest poached apple, spiced with warming cinnamon and fragrant vanilla. A sticky toffee sauce laced the entire plate, with a final accompaniment of pillow-soft vanilla ice cream.

Dining over the festive period can often be a minefield with so many culinary persuasions from which to choose. It’s safe to say that P.F. Chang’s extensive menu kept my particular party happy. Just a word of caution though to save on any potential food quarrels, always order that extra portion. It is Christmas, after all.
essence info
P.F. Chang’s
10 Great Newport Street, London WC2H 7JA
Websites: and 
Telephone: 01923 555161
Twitter: @stephbrookes