In a real ouroboros moment, P.F. Chang’s has opened its first location in Shanghai, where it serves Chinese-American food to citizens of China hungry for an authentic American experience.
C.E.O. Michael Osanloo told CNBC that the restaurant is already a big hit, saying that customers “love the concept that it’s an American bistro, serving some of their favorite American dishes for an American-style palette, which is heavy protein.” CNBC notes that the most popular dishes in Shanghai are also the most popular dishes in the U.S. (“chicken, lettuce wraps and shrimp”), but while the menu may not be all that different, the branding is another question:
The design, however, is slightly different. Written in Chinese, the logo reads “An American Bistro,” instead of the American version that says, “Asian Flavors.” The menu is also unique, with only one image per dish and new technology that allows patrons to view various videos of the brand while dining.
Like the earliest of P.F. Chang’s U.S. spots, the Shanghai Chang’s is in a mall. Osanloo, clearly believing that reports of the demise of malls have been greatly exaggerated, said that “the reason people go to malls is for entertainment and restaurants… We’re on trend.”
While Sweet & Sour Chicken and Surf & Turf may be big hits with the Chinese market, another aspect of the restaurant’s brand has yet to take off:
But the company’s “Farm to Wok” brand, or fresh foods made from scratch, doesn’t translate in China. “When we said that to [Chinese people], they said, ‘Of course. How else would you cook food?’” [Osanloo] said.
Let’s just let that marinate for awhile, like an order of Oolong Chilean Sea Bass. You can get a glimpse inside the restaurant here.