Saturday Hike (Not!)

For this Saturday’s hike, I chose an entirely different venue.

The Seattle premium outlet malls. Needless to say, more side-tripping got done than actual hiking, and that was ok. My husband not only accompanied me voluntarily – he actually suggested the outing.

He is a Big Dogs fan, and picked up new t-shirts for everyone. He got me a new sleep shirt that reads “It’s cute that you think I’m listening.” ;)

We finished up the date day with dinner at ubiquitous mall-chain-restaurant staple PF Changs. Yum.

It wasn’t Olympic National Park – but in many ways was just as good for body and soul.

17 Responses to “Saturday Hike (Not!)”

  1. John the Scientist Says:

    Oh no, no PF Changs!

  2. Jeri Says:

    I admit a weakness for their completely inauthentic, but still yummy lettuce wraps. What can I say. :)

  3. John the Scientist Says:

    Heh. Good thing you don’t live with a Chinese person. Esepcially one who was ever connected with the restaurant business.

    :p

  4. Jeri Says:

    I will confess that I dislike 3/4 of what is on PF Changs’ menu – everything is overly *sweet*. :( But, on the plus side, they don’t use MSG, which I’m sensitive to, and they do use fresh ingredients. It all comes down to ordering carefully. Last night – ginger soy steamed salmon over sauteed shitake mushrooms & bok choy with brown rice, and a side of garlic snap peas. And it was a good dinner, if not very *Chinese* – just Asian fusion.

    If you’re ever in Seattle, I will ask you to be my lunch guide for a good, non-stinky-tofu Chinese meal. (My favorite restaurant there is also Asian fusion – Wild Ginger).

  5. John the Scientist Says:

    The sugar is used instead of MSG, and believe me, there’s MSG in it, just not as much. All the prepackaged sauces have some in them, just not enough to trigger a reaction.

    I usually look up the local Chinese message boards to get an idea of good places to go in a new city. That’s how I avoided the tourist traps in San Fran.

  6. Janiece Says:

    Hmmm…Coach!

    One of my favorite stores, alongside Cole Haan.

    And don’t feel guilty about PF Changs. I love it, too. I just don’t confuse with “real” Chinese food, which I also enjoy.

  7. Nathan Says:

    Never heard of PF Chang’s…something regional? And as someone who previously ordered from Dominos (when there’s perfectly good authentic stuff available), I’ll refrain from commenting on anyone else’ choice of dining venues. :D

  8. Jeri Says:

    Janiece, I’m a very odd duck because I just don’t *get* Coach. Maybe I’m missing something in my genetic makeup? My sister loves their stuff but I look around and don’t understand why their bags are worth hundreds. I like Brighton (on the spendy end) and Fossil – both are colorful and practical and have great organizer type features.

    Nathan, PF Changs seems to be national, but it’s very suburban mall/town center strip mall oriented, and doesn’t seem to have many urban locations. Although – there is one right across the street from my office, in the heart of downtown Seattle, so go figure. It’s extremely genericized, Americanized Asian fusion, heavy on the noise and vanilla ambience, emphasizing sugary sauces over flavor, and completely missing the boat on authenticity. Still, the food is fresh and can be tasty and even healthy, depending on what you order.

  9. Jeri Says:

    John – what would ‘real’ Chinese food be?

    Most of the Chinese restaurants I’ve been to are run by Korean or Vietnamese families, and the quality varies wildly. The core menu items are always the same – also Americanized chow mein, sweet and sour, kung pao, egg foo yung, etc. (BTW, I consider sweet and sour completely gross – those colors have never been found in nature.)

    So, would those same restaurants have the ‘other menu’ you and Nathan mentioned – and in a Korean-operated restaurant wouldn’t that second menu be focused on their cuisine? Or would ordering from the specialty dishes get you a better quality meal, or would that be hit & miss? I usually do that anyway, just to avoid fried rice and sweet and sour fried glop.

  10. Tanya Says:

    LOVE PF Chang’s – they have great garlic noodles. I miss the outlet malls – we would usually go to the one in Marysville. I especially miss the baby stores there (Osh Kosh & Carter’s) since they had great clothes at really good prices. I guess now I just have to find my bargains at the local garage sales ;)

    BTW – the cabinets are installed so one project can be crossed off the list.

    No plans for a deck this year, thankfully ours is a nice size :D

  11. Tania Says:

    Outlet Mall. Sigh…. Retail Mecca. Chico’s outlet – belts, scarves, and shirts in fun colors.

    My mall food staple is the Thai Lettuce Wraps at Cheesecake Factory. Yum.

  12. Beast Mom Says:

    Funny, the lettuce wraps are the only thing I’ve ever had at PF Chang’s, and I liked them a lot. I’ve even tried to replicate them at home b/c they’re very refreshing and light as a meal. But I never thought of the dish as Chinese, more that fusion stuff you speak of…

    -bm

  13. MWT Says:

    “Real” Chinese is where you go to a restaurant where the menu comes in Chinese, the waitstaff speak Chinese, and all the food gets put in the middle of a table to be shared with everyone. Everyone drinks hot tea out of these tiny little cups, and it’s frowned upon to drink anything else, including water. Virtually nothing on the standard American-Chinese restaurant menu is on the real menu. If your meal ends with a small bowl of split-pea soup and/or slices of oranges, you may have eaten a “real” Chinese restaurant meal.

    Best way to eat it: make friends with Chinese people and hope they’ll invite you to a family outing. ;)

  14. MWT Says:

    Oh, and I think PF Chang’s might only be a west coast thing. I did see one in Honolulu also, but don’t recall seeing them elsewhere. (Not that I’ve looked very hard, mind you.)

  15. John the Scientist Says:

    What MWT said.

    Nathan and I are going to a real Chinese restaurant tomorrow. My best advice for finding a real Chinese restaurant is “go to FLushing”, which is what we will be doing. :p

  16. John the Scientist Says:

    OK, taking my tongue out of my cheek, here are some things to look for that indicate a real Chinese restaurant:

    “Chinese” eggplant – thinner and better tasting than the European kind. If they go out of their way to note it’s Chinese eggplant, then they have non-ABC Chinese customers who care about that.

    Beef tripe – need I say more? Same goes for organ meats such as kidney.

    Rabbit

    Conch

    Jellyfish – mmm mmm good.

    Fish heads in any form.

    (Red) Bean paste in anything.

    The duck tongue at Spicy and Tasty was a new one on me, but, I think, authentic.

    Pork blood / intestines as an ingredient in anything.

    Carp – I do stinky tofu. I don’t do bottom-feeders.

    The use of specific place names such as “Chengdu style” instead of generic names known to Westerners such as “Sichuan Style”.

    Bitter melon.

    Ginko nuts.

    Chow Fun.

    Lychee flavored anything.

    Funny, but all the authentic restaurants I go to in NY also feature Frog. That was not true in San Francisco.

    If the chicken or fish come with the heads on, it’s an authentic place. Although you can’t tell that until after you’ve ordered.

    Note the absence of certain things at a real restaurant as well: General Tso’s, Kung Pao, Mu Shu, Egg Foo Young (my favorite American Chinese dish).

  17. MWT Says:

    If the fish are swimming in barebones aquariums at the front of the store and you get to pick which one you want, the chances are high that it’ll come to the table with its head still on. ;)