Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Restaurant Review: Pei Wei Asian Diner

Happy {Chinese} New Year! For many, the new year began on January 1. However, last weekend was the celebration of the Chinese New Year, marking 2014 as the year of the horse. In honor of the Asian celebration, I decided to look at a popular American Chinese restaurant chain, Pei Wei Asian Diner, and evaluate their menu for Sans Soy. Chinese food is delicious, but it is also a well-known fact that the dishes oftentimes are full of additives such as MSG and soy sauce. 

Growing up, I enjoyed plenty of food from my neighborhood P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, only to sacrifice my health for the following days. It took me a while to connect (one of my slower moments) the swelling and crankiness I endured after Chinese food consumption to the ingredients. Now, I rarely consume Chinese food. However, a brand new +Pei Wei Asian Diner, the little brother of +P.F. Chang's, opened in my Dupont Circle neighborhood in the District. As I walked by the diner, I started to think about the ingredients which must go into their wonton soup, steaming noodle bowls and crispy spring rolls.

Reviewing the menu for Pei Wei is not surprising: almost every dish and condiment offered contains soy. However, the Chinese fast food restaurant does an excellent job clearly indicating allergens through its nutritional info chart. In addition to labeling menu items containing soy, other allergens that are marked include corn, mushroom, sesame and sulfites.

Overall grade: C-. The Chinese food chain gets major points for easily displaying food allergens to its customers. However, someone who wishes to avoid soy would have difficulty doing so at Pei Wei Asian Diner due to the limited number of soy free plates. The sweet chili sauce may be soy free, but it is hard to enjoy when the vegetable spring rolls, crispy potstickers and Vietnamese chicken salad rolls are laden with soy. I would gladly eat here if there were a wider array of soy free food choices.

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