You may wonder why on earth I would agree to review a frozen food dinner when the concept itself seems to go against everything I stand for in the world of food. Well, I have some pretty good reasons and it’s not just the complimentary swag that I received as a gift from PF Chang’s or the fact that I wanted to be a part of National Noodle Day, a new National holiday that I’ve never heard of. So read if you wish my review of a new line of PF Chang’s frozen dinners and I hope you won’t be too disappointed in me.
Let’s just say, my kids can have a very strong influence on me.
When my packaged food starved 14-year old son got wind of the fact that I was asked to review some frozen Chinese dinners, he begged me to say yes. As I contemplated reviewing the product, reason number one “in favor” of a review came to me. So much of what I preach at Cooking With Friends is about cooking and freezing food, the do’s and don’ts, the methods and successes and failures. My curiosity about the taste of PF Chang’s new line of frozen noodle dinners and how well the freezing process worked to preserve their patented flavor caught my interest. Could it possibly be as good as the renowned PF Chang’s restaurant chain where people wait in line for hours to dine? (I myself have never eaten at a PF Chang’s so I am only able to review the frozen dinners without a comparison to the restaurant. Sorry folks!)
Back to my story. . .
My son was counting down the days until our dinners for two would arrive. So, the e-mail alerting me to be on the lookout for a dry ice package last Friday caused my son to dart immediately home after school. He couldn’t wait to taste for himself. He chose to sample the Pepper Steak with Chow Fun Noodles, and left the Garlic Chicken with Dan Dan Noodles for a later taste test. As per the instructions, we dumped the frozen noodles, beef and vegetables into a skillet, covered the pan and stirred on and off for 11 minutes. We watched (my son, simultaneously fidgeting and salivating by the stovetop) as the coils of frozen noodles softened along with plump pieces of beef into smooth thick sauce — 11 minutes on the dot, some pretty precise instructions. We eagerly ladled two servings into our complimentary noodle bowls and began tasting.
So what’s the verdict? I know you’re dying to know. Well, I have to say, if taste and only taste is what we’re aiming for then they scored high marks for sure. In fact, it was way better than any take-out Chinese I’ve been able to find in my town. A few days later I heated the second meal, Garlic Chicken with Dan Dan Noodles for my son late one evening for dinner. Again, I dumped the frozen noodles, frozen sauce preserved in uniform rectangles, and chicken into my skillet. I did exactly what I did before with similar results although my son says he prefers the beef.
The ingredient list was very long but filled with fewer unpronounceable names than I expected. According to the Nutritional Facts table one serving had 420 calories, 14 grams of fat and 50 grams of carbohydrates. Not terrible at all. There were 21 grams of protein and 960 milligrams of sodium (40% of the recommended daily allowance). All in all, despite having a bit too much sodium, it didn’t seem that bad for you.
So, while I always try to encourage my readers to cook from scratch, on those occasions when you crave good take-out Chinese, it’s nice to know you can scratch that itch in just 11 short minutes.