P.F. Chang’s: Nice & Spicy

In honor of Celiac Disease Awareness Month in North Carolina, Sweet Tea & Wheat-Free welcomes guest blogger and Founder of Custom Choice Cereal, LLC, Hajo Engelke.

In 2008, Hajo, along with a group of students from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, took on the challenge of creating a variety of delicious gluten-free cereals. At Custom Choice Cereal, you can design your own cereal from a lengthy list of gluten-free ingredients. The following information is taken from their website:

How It Works:

  1. Choose your cereal base.
  2. Add up to 11 ingredients.
  3. Name your mix.
  4. Receive your cereal at home.
  5. Indulge.

All naturally gluten-free ingredients are subject to rigorous testing for gluten to ensure our high quality control standards are met. For our customers’ safety, all cereal and ingredients are stored and prepared in a dedicated gluten-free facility.

Brilliant! Now that you know what’s for breakfast, here is Hajo’s post on what you might have for lunch or dinner…

Dining out gluten-free: P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Renaissance Center at Southpoint location, 6801 Fayetteville Rd, Durham, NC 27713

GF Menu: Yes. Click HERE to view this menu.

Dining out still poses an enormous challenge for anyone on a gluten-free diet, but the options increase almost by the day.  Still, just because a restaurant has realized the need to have a gluten-free menu does not mean that the staff is familiar with all the implications for the operations in the kitchen.  That’s why I never tell the waiter that I need to eat gluten-free, but instead ask them if they know what that means. Trust me, it can be very revealing…

Fortunately, there are restaurants that really understand their gluten-free customers’ needs and go out of their way to please their guests.  One of these awesome places is P.F. Chang’s.  I recently went to their Southpoint location, and I was truly impressed.

First impression

The lady who showed me to my table saw the “Gluten-free” button on my shirt and immediately turned the menu to the gluten-free side. And what a menu it was!  Everything was clearly labeled and they had notes about the gluten-free menu, which clearly stated that the guest should ask for gluten-free soy sauce.

When I asked my waitress about the term “gluten-free”, she immediately knew what it meant and explained to me that the P.F. Chang’s kitchen has a separate preparation area for all their gluten-free meals, uses separate oils, separate grills, and different dishes for easier distinction.  She finished by saying “Trust me, we take gluten-free very seriously and know your needs.”  Wow, the first impression definitely gets 5 out of 5 stars!

The food

I was very hungry and decided on the Gluten Free Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps as a starter, and then went for their Gluten Free Chang’s Spicy Chicken for an entree.  I was torn about the entrée for a while though just because I liked the name “Moo Goo Gai Pan”…

Chicken Lettuce Wrap

The lettuce wraps came with four pieces of lettuce, which turned out to be the perfect number. The lettuce was chilled and the chicken had the perfect temperature. It needed to be spiced up, though…


Fortunately, the waitress had brought a tray with sauces and spices so that was easily done. Another plus: the red bowls contained the gluten-free sauces, again clearly marked.

Spicy ChickenOn to the spicy chicken entrée.  I thought that it came to the table a little early. Having grown up as the youngest of four children, I learned to be a very fast eater, but even I can’t finish four lettuce wraps in 2 minutes. But when I turned to this dish a little later, it was still hot.  If I had tried to eat it right away, it probably would have been too hot, so I give P.F. Chang’s the benefit of the doubt and say they did this on purpose. The chicken was very good and deserved “spicy” in its description.  It had a decent kick to it and was tender.  Overall the food gets 4 out of 5 stars from me.

Green Note + Conclusion

Besides the really good food and the knowledgeable staff, I really liked that they use washable cloth napkins and have absolutely no throw-away items on the table.

The staff knows the needs that gluten-free guests have and can explain the measures taken to minimize the risk of cross-contamination in the kitchen.  At the same time, they aren’t entirely unrealistic and warn that all dishes are prepared in the same kitchen. Overall, I highly recommend P.F. Chang’s to anyone who has to eat gluten-free.

Many thanks, Hajo, for this post! We appreciate your commitment to gluten-free excellence.

For those who don’t know, Custom Choice Cereal is located in Durham, North Carolina, and distributes its gluten-free cereal to consumers throughout the United States. Support your local gluten-free business!

P.F. Chang's China Bistro on Urbanspoon


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4 CommentsLeave a comment

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