Thursday, April 2, 2009

Why #10: P.F. Chang's Special Sauce

Why?

Why is P.F. Chang's still carrying on with this sauce charade?

If you aren't familiar with the sauce, let me explain. When you arrive at PF's your waiter is required to mix up a "special" sauce for you. I've been there dozens of times and I'm not really sure what the sauces even are. There are 3 kinds of gooey sauces in the little white bowls (mustard? soy? something red and probably spicy?) and then there are 3 bottles of sauces; again have no idea what they are (vinegar? more soy? another unidentified red product?). The waiter asks if you want mild, medium or hot. One person at the table is awkwardly forced to answer (even though we ALL know no one is actually going to be using this sauce). And then the waiter mixes a little bit of the 3 gooey sauces together and voila, culinary delight!

Except it isn't a delight. It is a waste. If someone wants the sauce, they can mix their own. According to their own taste, not the taste of whoever actually answered the waiter.

Is it part of the interview process? Along with the ability to carry a fully loaded tray of Moo Goo Gai Pan and Beef and Broccoli, do you need to be a sauce mixing master???

And what do they do with all the leftover sauce? Is each little (untouched) bowl thrown away after the meal? Do they re-use the bowls that don't contain the specially mixed sauce?

So I'm taking a stand. Next time I go to PF's I am going to refuse the special sauce. I just hope the waiter doesn't spit in my sauce-less entree.

30 comments:

Emily Holcombe said...

hahahahaaaaaaaaa!

as i said last night (between mouthfuls of rice covered in special sauce - eff me), i would rather they reduce each menu item by $1, and offer the sauce as an OPTION, than waste countless dollars on sauce that is untouched and thrown away by 90% of the customers.

i cant believe you found a picture of the sauce. you kill me. :)

Matthew said...

i LOVE pf changs sauce. i guess we won't be dining there together any time soon.

but, i do agree... just let me mix it myself. i'm not at a retirement home. i'm capable.

Anonymous said...

Is the sauce really worth complaining about. If you do not want then just tell them. I love the sauce, spicy, and just about everyone I have dined with at PF Changs or Pei Wei, like the sauce too. I only found your page because I was actually looking to buy some or acquire a receipe for it. Get a clue.

Leslie said...

I used to work there. The Chinese don't put salt and pepper on their food (supposedly) so that's what the sauces are for. Red: Chili Oil acts as a pepper and adds a smokey flavor to your food. White: rice vinegar. It nuetralizes spice/heat. Add it to tone down spicy dishes. Black: Soy sauce. It acts as a salt. As for the sauces the red paste is chili paste to add heat. Yellow is spicy mustard. It has a horseradish taste. The sauce in the middle is the "special sauce." Its made by the chefs and includes soy sauce, sugar, water, garlic, vinegar, chives, and some other ingredients. They used to only provide the sauce for the lettuce wraps but people kept asking for them to add to rice. It was such a popular request that the restaurant decided to have servers present it upon greeting the table. If someone doesn't use the sauces in the ramicans they throw it out. But, I'll attest to the fact that people for sure eat them. I had to refill those sauces countless times. People LOVE them.

The first thing you learn in training are the sauces. Your Server is supposed to explain everything I did to you. I was craving the sauce actually and googled it. That's how I found your blog.

Leslie said...

PS. Any more questions? They train their servers in terms of knowing the food better than any restaurant I have ever worked at.

Anonymous said...

Yes! Gotta say... I love this sauce. Have NO clue why anyone would say "NO one eats it". I have been trying to find this sauce forever! Thanks to the person that at least explained why it's not that easy to duplicate. It is DELISH on the lettuce wraps.

Jake said...

I was looking for the recipe also and that's why I googled it...the only reason I go to PF Changs is for the sauce!!! I LOVE IT!!!!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE the sauce. I was looking for the recipe when I found your blog... And it is the main reason we go to PF's in the first place!

Anonymous said...

Same with me as it is with so many other people... the main reason I go to PF Chang's (I usually don't frequent chain places) is the AWESOME sauce! The only reason NOT to like it is if you don't like SPICY -as many chain places will not do. I LOVE the sauce! Thank you PF Chang!

Koflan said...

The bottles are vinegar, chili oil, and soy sauce. The bowls are mustard (to my recollection something like a chinese wasabi mustard), chili paste, and ginger soy sauce.

The idea is that certain people who may not even know what the sauces are on the table wouldn't really know to mix their own, so they have the wait staff do it.

Also, when I have been there I have put the mixed sauce on my rice, lettuce wraps, and used it to dip vegetables.

Rachel said...

Then why do you even bother going to PF changs?
The sauce is actually pretty tasty. That's why it's so popular, moron. Something about you post makes you sound ignorant.

Anonymous said...

My husband has double chang sauce with his rice! There are so many critics making comments that aren't worth reading, just say no sauce, thank you.

Anonymous said...

wow, such negativity and hyperbole- "even though we ALL know no one is actually going to be using this sauce".
Here's a tip- don't like it? don't go there.
I'm not a fan of most chain restaurants, but i do enjoy the chang sauce, so don't include me in your "No One".
Take a stand- see if anyone cares.

Oh, and to answer your question as to why they offer the sauce? They make money off of it.

Anonymous said...

What an idiot!!! you go to PF Changs because it is a classy place with awesome waitstaff that make you feel important when they mix the sauce to YOUR perfection. they are hands down the best customer service restaurant!!! maybe you should find a wimpy place to go

Katie said...

I completely agree with Lindsey! The Chang Sauce is down right wasteful. I am also SO GLAD that there are this many people in the world who feel the need to go home, google the sauce, and then post OUTRAGED comments about it on a blog. And you have the nerve to verbally abuse someone just because they don't want to bath in it like you do? Seriously people RELAX and realize that you are getting riled up over 3 cups of condiments. Pathetic! And while I realize that my comment will probably infuriate you even more, because let's face it - you're insane - deep down I hope you continue to post your comments because they never fail to bring humor to my workday.

Anonymous said...

I tried PF Chang's sauce for the 1st time today when they catered to my job. Love the sauce. It was my favorite part of the meal!! I found this blog by trying to google the receipe!

esspeajay said...

LOL get over yourself...P.F. Chang's sauce is AWESOME!! If you don't like them mixing it for you ask them not too, or ask for a seperate bowl for yourself, otherwise perhaps you should dine somewhere more to your liking. McDonald's has a special sauce.

Anonymous said...

I frequent PF Changs and am I fan of the sauce, but I now just ask if I can mix it myself. I used to always end up with a waiter/waitress who says "I like mine a little spicy" and it ends up tasting like fire. I can handle spicy but they tend to go overboard. If you like it, cool. If you don't and think its a waste, just tell your waiter/waitress before they mix it you don't want any. Then it won't be wasted.

Anonymous said...

YOUR JUST JEALOUS BECAUSER THEY MAKE SAUCE BETTER THAN YOU EVER WILL

Anonymous said...

Uhm, wow, haters gonna hate. The sauce is awesome. If you're not using it, you're just a chicken. I agree with the anon who says that they ask to mix it themselves. Then I drizzle a little plain sauce on my lettuce wraps, mix up some medium spiciness sauce for my Mu Shu, and I'm good to go.

By the way, the yellow stuff in the bowl is Hot Chinese Mustard, the red stuff in the little bowl is Chili Paste, the black stuff in the bowl is a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, and a little cooking sherry. The red bottle is chili oil, the black bottle is plain soy sauce, and the white bottle is vinegar.

They chuck the leftover sauce, which costs maybe 25 cents to produce. Seriously, whoever said that they're rather have a dollar off each menu item instead of sauce is a cheapskate.

Oh, and I found your whiny blog by googling for the recipe too. Find something better to complain about, like world hunger. I bet they'd appreciate the sauce. :P

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say I LOOVVVEEEE the sauces. That is why i am here today because I was looking how to make them. And as Leslie pointed pointed out I like it on my rice.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame that this whiny tirade is what comes up for those of us in search of this culinary delight...Lindsey needs a hug or something. This is hardly worth "taking a stand" over...

Anonymous said...

So you don't have the recipes for the sauces? Lol

Jessica said...

Haha, I agree w/ the second to last Anon- is this really an issue to take such a hard stance on? Such vitriol over some sauce!

Having said that, I like it, I also found this site by Googling for ingredients for the sauce.

However, even though I disagree with your "sauce stance", Lindsey, I did enjoy the quirky, personable way you wrote this post :)

Fitz said...

Hey Lindsey, My name is Chris and I work for Changs. The "special sauce" is made up of three differnt sauces wich are served in small white cups or ramekins on a small plate. 1st the base suace as I call it, the one that looks like soy is a made from scratch "potsticker" or dumpling sauce wich I call sweet soy cause its a better description. The red sauce is a spicy chili paste. The yellow sauce is hot mustard wich I call wasabi mustard again because its a better description. The sauce is made for you according to how spicy you like your food... Special Sauce 101.

Derek Miklos said...

What's the recipe for the Hot n Sour soup? It's much different than any other I've had, something with the stock I suspect.

ToddFideaux said...

I really find pf changs sauce addictive. Its like im a lab rat and its the drugs they test on me. I never waste a drop i even drink it after the meal. No joke. I get some funny looks but that doesnt stop me from getting every last drop of sweet sweet changsauce!

Anonymous said...

I love the sauce so much, I actually can drink it right from a bottle at the table. It's mean in a good way.

Anonymous said...

Thanks came here looking for the sauce recipe, something you can do with that boring flavorless white rice that 90% of customers just throw away. Now I can stop wasting rice! It's like what ketchup and salt does for French fries!

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh...I am laughing so hard. I at at Changs yesterday and I was so confused by the sauce. I found your post because I googled "what the heck is with those sauces at PF Changs?" They brought them before we even ordered anything. What if we were just having dessert? What a waste of sauce.