Monday, January 7, 2013

Last week, we had the best Chinese food we’ve ever eaten in Istanbul!

Normally, any type of Asian food here is what I would call tolerable. Apparently, if you just sauté meat and veggies in soy sauce, you can call it Chinese food. That’s why I just cook Asian-inspired dishes like this soup recipe at home.

But the newly-opened P.F. Chang’s restaurant, located on the high-end entertainment street of Nispetiye in Etiler, opened up my taste buds with spicy chili oil, Chinese mustard, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil and more! My husband and I were unexpectedly surprised and satisfied as we ate ourselves into a delightful foodie coma.

Normally, I’m not a fan of big-box, national chains like this one. I prefer the small, local places. However, when I lived in Kansas, I would frequent the P.F. Chang’s every now and then in Kansas City with friends. The chicken lettuce wraps were always my favorite appetizer; and they still are!
Chang's signature chicken lettuce wrap mixture served on top a bed of crunchy rice noodles.
Our Turkish server, who spoke a bit of English, mixed together a fun assortment of sauces and vinegars to make a slightly spicy condiment that we used on the (messy, but sooo good) chicken lettuce wraps and the pan-fried chicken dumplings. The portion sizes are quite generous compared to what you normally get in Istanbul. In fact, we made 7 lettuce wraps between the two of us!
Bad lighting via my cell phone - a pan-fried chicken dumpling before I popped it into my mouth.
We washed down our meal with a cocktail each (25 tl). I had the Platinum Pom Margarita with nar suyu, Tequila and Cointreau while hubby had the Chinese 88 Martini with gin, lemon juice and sparkling wine. The cocktails also were potent and delicious!

For our entrées, we ordered Chang’s Spicy Chicken, Dan Dan Noodles (scallions, garlic and chili peppers stir fried with ground chicken served over hot egg noodles) and the Spicy Pepper Steak. I preferred the spicy and sweet flavors of the sesame chicken over the beef, which seemed like the sauce had been uber-thickened with cornstarch.
Chang’s Spicy Chicken and Dan Dan Noodles.

Note: the entrées did not come with plain rice, and it wasn’t listed on the menu. However, we saw rice being served at many of the tables, so I guess you must ask for the rice.
Spicy Pepper Steak at P.F. Chang's

In total, we ordered five dishes because we wanted to have leftovers to eat at home. We got two more meals each out of the generous portions, and I made some plain noodles to serve with the entrees. Our bill was 200 tl with 70 tl for the cocktails, a beer and bottled water. By no means was this a cheap meal; but we stretched out the food, and I feel like we certainly got our money’s worth!

In my opinion, the prices are just as comparable as to eating at Quick China or Sushico in Istanbul, and the portion sizes at P.F. Chang’s are much better.

For a couple dining at the P.F. Chang’s in Istanbul, you could easily get by with sharing two appetizers and one entrée. I highly recommend the chicken lettuce wraps!

I’m definitely happy to have a real option for Chinese food in Istanbul…besides my own kitchen!
These 11-foot tall horses always grace the entrance of the P.F. Chang's restaurants.
The horse symbolizes the original Forbidden City in China, which was built for China's first emperor.
Etiler Mah., Nispetiye Cad. No. 94, Istanbul

How to get there:
Many of the IETT buses heading towards Akmerkez or Rumeli Hisarustu will pass by the Etiler bus stop right in front of the restaurant. No. 43R, 559C, 59K, 59R, 59RK and 59RS.

Information about P.F. Chang’s:
  • P.F. Chang’s was developed by Paul Fleming (P.F.) and Philip Chiang (Chang) so both names were incorporated into the name of the concept.
  • There are over 200 locations worldwide. It’s also the biggest operator of Asian full-service restaurants in the U.S. by market share.
  • The Istanbul location is the first one in Turkey, but there are plans to add one or two more restaurants in the country, according to this news article.

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Kim, Living to Seas the Moment said...

I've been wondering if Changs was open yet. I was with Sheryl when she got THE word and we were both super excited! It is our go to place when we are both in OK. Hopefully, they will be hightly successful and you will be able to return as often as you wish.
Just curious, did they offer fortune cookies?

jaz@octoberfarm said...

we have those places here too. we used to have tons of chinese places but they have all been replaced by thai and korean now and i think we have only a few left now. they are not very authentic either. it seems like more and more variety is showing up in turkey?

Joy said...

@Kim, yes, it's the PF Chang's in Sheryl's neighborhood. We even got fortune cookies in English/Turkish. They are made by an expat with a Turkish partner right here in Istanbul. Just met them recently at a party. Very cool!
Forfun Fortune Cookies Istanbul

@Joyce, there definitely has been an increase in variety since we've been living in Istanbul. I just heard about a new Ethiopian place that just opened too. I'd love to have soon good Korean and Thai though! :)

Kim, Living to Seas the Moment said...

I so enjoyed reading about the fortune or forfun cookies! Thanks for always sharing such great information. It truly makes me feel like (almost) I am in Istanbul again!

Alyson said...

We lived right down the street from there (close to Sheryl if we're talking about the same one!) and I can't believe we moved out and missed it! Hopefully it lasts - nothing stays on Nispetiye long

Anonymous said...

Where is the new Ethiopian place?



Anonymous said...

We went a few weeks ago and also really liked it. The hot shrimp cocktail was amazing. The starters I would say are much better than the main courses. The duck was rather horrible. Have yet to find a chinese restaurant in Istanbul that has good duck.
The desserts were also great

Joy said...

@Alyson, I bet it is, and hope you are enjoying the variety back in London!

@Stephanie, here's the info for the Ethiopian restaurant:
Habesha - A Taste of Ethiopia in Istanbul
Located in Taksim on Ekrem Sokak, on the second floor above She-va Club. Look for the She-va sign — the restaurant doesn’t have its own.
@ Anonymous, good to know about the desserts! Thanks!