Healthy Options at P.F. Chang’s, Part 1: Appetizers

May 24, 2010 11:35 am
Posted in: Menu Mondays
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PF Changes Healthy Options

P.F. Chang’s China Bistro has become a popular “chain of full service upscale casual dining restaurants that feature a blend of high-quality, traditional Chinese cuisine and attentive service, in a high-energy contemporary bistro setting,” growing to 197 locations since they opened in 1993.

It’s definitely possible to make some healthy & delicious choices, though you”ll need to be very careful with portion sizes and sodium.

Part 1 covers P.F. Chang’s starters, soups, salads, and sides.  Part 2 covers healthy options at PF Chang’s for entrees, deserts, and the kids’ menu.

Oh, and yes, that fortune cookie pictured above is meant to be ironic.

The nutrition info below is for ONE SERVING of each item.  I’ll let you know if an order contains more than one serving, which is often the case.

Starters/Small Plates – Better Choices

IMPORTANT: The appetizers are meant to be shared, and the nutrition information they give takes that into account — most of the small plates should be split up into 2, 4, or even 8 servings. So if you get one of these for yourself (or split one between two people instead of four), make sure you do the math and know exactly how much you’re eating!

The best appetizer choices are the steamed dumplings — as long as you skip the sauce. The “Potsticker Sauce” (with the vegetable and pork dumplings) has 610mg of sodium in that 2-ounce cup, and the “Dumpling Sauce” (with the shrimp) has an outrageous 1,250mg.

Getting the dumplings fried instead adds about 2g of fat and 15 calories to each dumpling.

Steamed Vegetable Dumplings – 6 servings per dish
45 cal, no fat, 80mg sodium, 8g carbs, no fiber, 2g protein

Steamed Shrimp Dumplings – 6 servings per dish
45 cal, no fat, 160mg sodium, 6g carbs, no fiber, 4g protein

Steamed Pork Dumplings – 6 servings per dish
60 cal, 1g sat fat, 2g total fat, 125mg sodium, 6g carbs, no fiber, 4g protein

Salt & Pepper Calamari – 4 servings per dish
160 cal, 2g sat fat, 10g total fat, 208mg sodium, 11g carbs, no fiber, 6g protein

Spring Rolls – 2 servings per dish
156 cal, 1g sat fat, 8g total fat, 271mg sodium, 17g carbs, 2g fiber, 4g protein
Skip the 2-ounce cup of sweet & sour sauce, which adds 21g of sugar and 210mg sodium.

Dynamite Shrimp – 2 servings per dish
290 cal, 2g sat fat, 12g total fat, 285mg sodium, 6g carbs, no fiber, 5g protein

Egg Rolls - 2 servings per dish
174 cal, 1g sat fat, 8g total fat, 673mg sodium, 22g carbs, 3g fiber, 5g protein
The 2-ounce cup of Sweet & Sour Mustard Sauce adds 90 cal, 2g fat, 140mg sodium, and 17g carbs (mostly sugar).

Chang’s Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps – 4 servings per dish
140 cal, 1g sat fat, 7g total fat, 530mg sodium, 11g carbs, 2g fiber, 6g protein

Sichuan Chicken Flatbread – 4 servings per dish
195 cal, 5g sat fat, 10g total fat, 523mg sodium, 12g carbs, 1g fiber, 15g protein

Starters/Small Plates – Worst Choices

Crispy Green Beans – 4 servings per dish
260 cal, 3g sat fat, 18g total fat, 140mg sodium, 21g carbs, 2g fiber, 2g protein
The 2-ounce cup of sauce adds 310 cal, 32g fat (!!), and 520mg sodium.

Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps – 4 servings per dish
160 cal, 1g sat fat, 7g total fat, 650mg sodium, 17g carbs, 2g fiber, 8g protein

Seared Ahi Tuna – 2 servings per dish
160 cal, 2g sat fat, 11g total fat, 860mg sodium, 7g carbs, 1g fiber, 10g protein

Crab Wontons - 3 servings per dish
163 cal, 4g sat fat, 10g total fat, 303mg sodium, 13g carbs, no fiber, 5g protein
The 2-ounce cup of Spicy Plum Sauce adds 200 cal, 50g of carbs (sugar), and an insane 1,460mg sodium.

Northern Style Spare Ribs – 4 servings per dish
343 cal, 2g sat fat, 19g total fat, 985mg sodium, 11g carbs, no fiber, 31g protein

Chang’s Spare Ribs – 4 servings per dish
344 cal, 7g sat fat, 24g total fat, 336mg sodium, 7g carbs, 1g fiber, 26g protein
The three-ounce asian slaw that comes with these adds 170 cal, 3g sat fat, 17g total fat, and 280mg sodium.

Crispy Wontons – 8 servings per dish
45 cal, no sat fat, 3g total fat, 60mg sodium, 4g carbs, no fiber, 2g protein
Yeah, these are just bits of deep-fried dough. Are you really only going to eat just 1/8th of that plate?

Soups – Better Choices

The soup will add a ton of sodium to your meal, but some are better than others.  Like the appetizers, the bowls of soup are meant to be shared five ways.

Wonton Soup A 34-ounce bowl contains 5 servings, each with:
92 cal, 1g sat fat, 3g total fat, 482mg sodium, 9g carbs, no fiber, 7g protein

Chang’s Chicken Noodle Soup – A 32-ounce bowl contains 5 servings, each with:
120 cal, 1g fat, 4g total fat, 510mg sodium, 15g carbs, 1g fiber, 6g protein

Egg Drop Soup
You can get this in a cup (single serving) or a five-serving bowl.  Either way, each serving contains:
60 cal, no sat fat, 3g total fat, 640mg sodium, 8g carbs, no fiber, 1g protein

Soups – Worst Choice

Hot and Sour Soup
You can get this in a cup (single serving) or a five-serving bowl.  Either way, each serving contains:
80 cal, 1g sat fat, 3g total fat, 1,000mg sodium (!), 9g carbs, no fiber, 5g protein

Salads – Better Choice

Making a good choice here means you’d get the Asian Shrimp Salad and skip the dressing.

Asian Shrimp Salad - 2 servings, each with:
225 cal, 2g sat fat, 13g total fat, 635mg sodium, 16g carbs, 3g fiber, 14g protein
The 2-ounce citrus dressing adds 200 cal, 20g fat (!), and 140m sodium.

Salads – Worst Choice

Chicken Chopped Salad with Ginger Dressing – 2 servings, each with:
365 cal, 4g sat fat, 24g total fat, 640mg sodium, 13g carbs, 2g fiber, 24g protein

Sides – Better Choices

Their sides include 1.5 servings (small) or 3 servings (large), unless noted.  Nutrition info below is for ONE serving.  If you eat an entire side on your own, add 50% more to all these numbers.

Garlic Snap Peas
64 cal, no sat fat, 2g total fat, 107mg sodium, 7g carbs, 2g fiber, 2g protein

Spinach Stir-Fried with Garlic
53 cal, 1g sat fat, 3g total fat, 300mg sodium, 5g carbs, 3g fiber, 4g protein

White Rice (Steamed) - One order is one serving
220 cal, no fat, no sodium, 49g carbs, 1g fiber, 4g protein

Brown Rice (Steamed) - One order is one serving
190 cal, no sat fat, 2g total fat, 40g carbs, 3g fiber, 4g protein

Sides – Worst Choices

Remember, if you eat a small plate by yourself (1.5 servings), add 50% to all these numbers.  The sodium can hit 1,000mg… and this is just your side dish!

Green Tea Noodles
284 cal, 2g sat fat, 12g total fat, 163mg sodium, 37g carbs, 2g fiber, 6g protein

Wok-Seared Mushrooms
115 cal, 4g sat fat, 9g total fat, 645mg sodium, 6g carbs, no fiber, 4g protein

Shanghai Cucumbers
40 cal, no sat fat, 2g total fat, 743mg sodium, 3g carbs, 1g fiber, 2g protein

Spicy Green Beans
110 cal, 1g sat fat, 6g total fat, 720mg sodium, 13g carbs, 4g fiber, 3g protein

Sichuan-Style Asparagus
100 cal, 1g sat fat, 6g total fat, 730mg sodium, 10g carbs, 2g fiber, 3g protein

Asian Slaw
237 cal, 3g sat fat, 22g fat, 360mg sodium, 7g carbs, 2g fiber, 2g protein

Menu Mondays are my recommendations for the most healthful options at chain restaurants. Although it may be tough to find “perfect” options when eating out, it’s important to choose “better” whenever possible, and I hope these guides will help make that easier for you.

indicates the “best-of-the-best,” and X indicates the “worst-of-the-worst,” more or less.

Don’t miss part 2: Healthy options at PF Chang’s for entrees, deserts, and the kids’ menu.

P.F. Chang’s Nutrition Information

P.F. Chang’s Menu (there’s a small link at the bottom to their nutrition info)

Photo by comicstriptease.

3 Comments on "Healthy Options at P.F. Chang’s, Part 1: Appetizers"
  1. Comment left on:
    June 24, 2012 at 9:22 pm
    Jaime says:

    Ummm….so what you are saying is that the carbs listed on the PF Chang’s Nutrition Data for STEAMED DUMPLINGS (or anything else for that matter) is the listing for the WHOLE DISH, not just a serving? I find their data sheet a little confusing because it goes Servings per Dish, Calories per dish, but then the remaining columns do not specify.

    • Comment left on:
      June 25, 2012 at 12:37 pm
      Andrew says:

      Hi Jaime,

      The nutrition numbers I listed in this post were for one serving, so one order of the Steamed Dumplings appetizer has six servings, each with 45 calories.

      It looks like PF Chang’s has changed the way they list their nutrition information in their PDF since I wrote this post, but the numbers seem pretty similar. Doing a little spot-checking, it looks like the info they list is per dish for all the nutrients, not just calories. So really, you can just ignore the “number of servings” column, and then just divide by the number of people with whom you’ve shared the dish. :)

      Hope that helps!

  2. Comment left on:
    April 4, 2013 at 6:49 am
    Jess says:

    Thank you for this! I forgot to pack a lunch and had to order in through work, and this helped me decide on the shrimp dumplings.

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