Last Update
Aug 8th, 2019

Pei Wei Asian Diner

1730 N Federal Hwy
Fort Lauderdale FL, 33305
954 565-5881
Overall Rating
2.6
Food
Service
Ambiance
Value
Last Review
08/07/2019

Details

Hours: M-Th 11am-9pm, FriSat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-9pm
Dress Code: Casual
Parking: Private Lot
CC: Yes
Alcohol: None
Outdoor: Yes
Reservations: No
Delivery: No

Pros

Comfortable Dining Room
No Tipping

Cons

No Service
Mall Quality Food

Insider Tips

if you want a plastic cup and hot food to be delivered to your table, don't order online.

Critic's Review

The coupons keep coming; today's was 33% off any "regular entree". They've been advertising their new cauliflower rice so I thought I'd try it out. I first tried to order one of their new bento boxes, but the coupon code didn't work for it. Really? Everything is like $10; they don't really have "entrees"; they have bowls, bento boxes and small plates. I surmised that a "bowl" was an entree.

Pei Wei allows you to order online and pay at the store; something other restaurants should consider. If I get to the restaurant and they forgot to make the order I should have the option of just walking out and going somewhere else.

The entrance is laden with advertising; no rope lines here. They have a cheap, swipe-only pinpad here for CC that you'd see mostly in some stuck in the 80s diner and not a big chain like Pei Wei. It's rather amusing.

I scheduled pickup for 2:15 and the order was ready. I had to remember to use my dopey facebook alias that I used to create the account so I wouldn't have to spend 15 minutes typing in my actual info.

2 other tables in the restaurant with really bad music blaring. I really do wonder how they stay open. My order was $9.11 including tax with no tip.

I ordered the Kung Pao chicken, extra spicy with no carrots. One negative of ordering online is that there's no way to tell them you want to eat in, so you're eating out of a container rather than plates.

Asking for extra spicy made no difference; there was no spice. I figured there was no chance they were using the sichuan peppercorns required for the authentic dish, but I hoped they'd throw some extra chili peppers in. The dish isn't spicy at all.

I went for the $2.49 upcharge for the cauliflower fried rice, because it was the entire point of the visit. With the 33% off it ended up being a free addition. It didn't taste like cauliflower or rice, but it wasn't bad. It was totally edible. I've experimented with cauliflower rice myself, but haven't found it to be useful for anything other than Gumbo. This wasn't bad.

The Kung Pao chicken; aside from not being spicy; was one of the better things I've had at Pei Wei. The picture of the dish on their web site, the chicken isn't battered; while it is in the actual dish.

Chinese food is always a crapshoot. It's counterproductive to put pictures of food on your website that doesn't match what you serve.

Conclusion

Pei Wei has nothing on real Chinese food, but some of the dishes are perfectly good for fuel. While I love fried rice, eating 2 cups of fried rice makes you feel like you have to skip your next 3 meals; the cauliflower rice is guilt-less and for some reason made the entire eating experience less stressful.

Review 7/13/17

Pei Wei has been peppering their mailing list with coupons, and today I had to pick up some things at Trader Joe's, so I decided to grab something. The coupon was only good after 3pm for some reason, so I placed an order online with a 3:10 pickup time. I got here at 3:05 and the order was ready.

They don't have a dine-in or take-out option on their online ordering, so everything is prepared as takeout. One good thing is that you don't have to pay in advance; she subtracted the 15% coupon and I ran my card on their pinpad. No chip; swipe only at Pei Wei;

I took my cup to the beverage center and they're down to only 1 choice of Iced Tea. Green tea with a hint of orange.

They also have fresh lemons. Chopsticks, a straw, napkins and a takeout box and off to a table.

I took the box not realizing that the noodles were already in a takeout container. You get better takeout containers when you order to go, apparently.

The place is notably non-Asian. Brothers manning the Woks, with No Doubt, Little Scream and Jean Tonique filling the airwaves. Americanized Chinese food; the fact that Pei Wei isn't doing all that well isn't terribly surprising.

One thing you can't complain about is the portion. You get about 3 plates like this in a take out container. I had 2 plates and still took quite a bit home.

This is the "Japanese Steak, Shrimp and Chile Raman". The first thing I noticed was that it didn't look anything like the picture which featured fresh green onions tossed on top rather than stir fried in. The overall taste of the dish wasn't bad, with a good bit of spice. The meat was dried out; definitely not cooked fresh for the dish, and the shrimp weren't very good. I'm not a big noodles guy but I can occasionally enjoy some Lo Mein. This wasn't bad but I won't be having it again.

Conclusion

Pei Wei closed the 17th Street store and I figure this one may be next. The only plus is that it's a nicer dining room than most Chinese places and it's not as big a rip-off as their owner's PF Chang's restaurants. But if I'm craving Chinese food, this isn't where I'm coming.

Review 7/19/14

I didn't plan to go to Pei Wei today, but my plan to go to brunch got thwarted by 20yo hostesses. They have some new asian salads and sushi rolls and there's no 2:30 cutoff, so it's safe to wander in at any time of the afternoon.

I picked up a menu and noticed the spicy tuna rolls; you can get just 4 of them for $3.29 so I figured I'd try them. The salads didn't sound so good so I decided to get one of the "Wok Fresh" entrees for $6.49. I ordered the Kung Pao and took the $.99 upcharge for the fried rice.

The self-service experience starts with gathering your utensils, soy sauce and your drink. No regular iced tea here; it's all fancy stuff. I got the green tea initially and later went back just to try the cinnamon vanilla. I made the right choice, the cinnamon vanilla didn't taste anything like iced tea.

You grab a table and put up your number, and you wait. They have fresh lemon for the tea, and you don't have to ask for extra.

It's a comfortable dining room, with some jazzy music playing; the kind that they used to put on bad web sites. Not too crowded at 3:30pm on a Saturday. You can see the flames flaring up in the kitchen as the chefs do their thing.

The sushi rolls came out first. It comes with pickled ginger, wasabi and a smear of some sort of "Sriracha" sauce.

The rolls weren't bad, better than the soups at this place. I'd only had one piece when the chicken came out. There's no pacing here. The food just comes when it comes.

This is quite a haul for $6.49. They never gave me this much rice before. But as it turned out there wasn't much chicken. They put carrots in everything for some reason. The chicken was battered and not very spicy; it was a sweet sauce. Everything is tempered here; of course the entire point of Kung Pao is the spice (remember the Seinfeld episode). The rice was clumpy. The food is just average here.

I ended up eating the chicken and a small amount of rice, and took the rest home. Like everything else at Pei Wei, boxing up your leftovers is a self-service operation.

I took home about 1/2 a box; all in all a good deal for $14 with no tip. But it ain't Chinatown.

Review 2/14/12

I got a coupon to try Pei Wei's new Thai Basil dish; a BOGO so I had to buy something else, but getting 2 lunches for $6.25 is a good deal. I'm not eating rice, so it would make up for that. I'd been to the place when the first opened, so I figured I'd see how they were doing now that they've been open awhile.

If you don't know about Pei Wei, it's sort of an express concept by PF Chang's. It's semi-serve; you order and pay at the register and then they bring you your food. You have to fetch your own silverware and drinks and you put a big plastic number in a holder on the table. I'm not sure if your supposed to tip; I didn't see anyone else leave a tip so I didn't either. You don't have a dedicated server; there's just a bunch of guys working the dining area.

The dining room is pretty nice, with high industrial ceilings and a brick wall in the back. They have good music playing; it's pretty funky for an Asian place.

The coupon was good for a "dinner select" entry, which is a smaller size portion that's available for about half of the entree choices. It's fine for lunch. You get a choice of a cup of soup, a spring roll or asian slaw also. So I got the freebie Thai Basil with a cup of hot and sour soup and also the Pei Wei Spicy, which they claim is like General Chu's Chicken with a side of asian slaw, just to try it.

The hot and sour soup was really loaded with stuff; they must have fished a nice spoonful of stuff for me.

The soup isn't very hot or very sour; I've had worse and I've had much better.

I tasted the Asian slaw after picking out the parsley; it didn't seem very Asian to me. I couldn't detect any dressing. I guess for raw veggies it was OK, but I had enough food without it.

Next I tried the Thai Basil, which they've been touting for quite some time now. There's even a video on their site about how they make it; in fact they make you watch the video in order to get the coupon. I went and made a pot of coffee while it was playing I think.

The parsley garnish was just ridiculous, how about some basil? The dish is grilled chicken with a thickish sauce with lots of scorched cashews and red pepper squares. By itself, there was nothing particularly tasty about it. The chicken was better when dipped into some hot mustard. I didn't taste much basil or much spice at all. There were a lot of cashews; have you priced out cashews lately?

The "Pei Wei Spicy" (General Chu's) wasn't spicy at all; the chili sauce that the chicken was in was more sweet than anything else. The sugar snap peas were pretty good, but the carrot slices didn't work with the sauce as it was prepared.

They seem to temper the spice here to the point where there is no spice at all. There isn't an opportunity to ask for more spice, so it is what it is.

Not a bad place for a decent lunch, but the only thing that I really like is the Mongolian Beef. You can get the coupon on their website but you have to use it before February 19. You can't beat 2 lunches for 6.25 just to try it out.

Review: 5/26/2011

Pei Wei Asian Diner opened on Monday May 23 next to Chipotle at the old Lonestar Steakhouse location. Pei Wei is a part cafeteria, part restaurant concept from the owners of PF Changs. The food is very similar to PF Chang's. It's a casual eatery where you wait on line, order your food at the register and then sit down and they bring it to you. You fetch your own condiments and your own box for leftovers.

On their web site it says "Why Wait?", so I figured I'd order online so it would be ready when I got there. They have a pretty good online ordering system that's fairly comprehensive. You can place the order well in advance as you tell them what time you'll be picking it up. I've had the Mongolian Beef here and I'd probably order it every time if I wasn't doing a review; this time I ordered the Spicy Korean Beef. I ordered a few other things also.

When I got there I realized a flaw in my plan; when you order online they don't ask if you'll be dining in or taking out; they just assume its take out. So my order was all packed up in little plastic containers and in a bag. I was still going to try to eat in the dining room, but it was really too clumsy trying to unpack the bag on a table there, so I ended up taking it home. It would be cool if they had a way of placing your order in advance with an eat-in option; particularly when you're in a hurry. But I guess that's not what they had in mind.

The dining room is pretty nice, with high industrial ceilings and a brick wall in the back. They have good music playing; it's pretty funky for an Asian place.

Something else they have that's really cool is the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, a vending machine with over 100 different beverage choices. It has a menu like they have at the supermarket at the self-service for produce; you scroll through some menus and choose from all sorts of juices, sodas and flavored waters. You can get plain water also. I got a Barq Root Beer. I haven't had one of those in a while.

I ended up eating the spring roll in the car, so no picture. It's just a small egg roll; it's not really a spring roll. It didn't look anything like the ones they have on their website; it was mostly cabbage.

The soup is what they call Thai Wonton, so I expected it to be something like wonton soup with lime flavoring. The description says that it has Kafir Lime Leaves in it, but the soup had almost no lime taste at all.

This dish was very good; nice and spicy with a good amount of beef. This is a decent portion for the price. The sauces here are on the thick side. I could do without the sesame seeds; but I enjoyed this dish.

If you know PF Changs then you know what you're getting here. It's not terribly authentic and everything is made to a specific recipe; but as Asian food goes in Fort Lauderdale, it's a pretty good lunch. They don't have dumplings (which I usually get with Chinese Takeout), and they don't have Chicken with Black Bean sauce (a favorite of mine) so they're not going to replace any of my Chinese food cravings, but for a sit down lunch in a nice, air-conditioned dining room they're a nice addition to the neighborhood.

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BenG
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You've been saying the end is coming for 2 years. Lol. Mr. Nostradamus
Administrator
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Now serving cauliflower rice. The end is near for this chain.
Administrator
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Great news. The Giant Poke Bowl is now a permanent menu item. Their offers get more and more ridiculous. The end may be near for this concept.
Administrator
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Pei Wei is getting desperate; they've now put their standard dishes (rice plus item) into a bowl and calling them "Mongolian Rice Bowls". Bowls are in.
Administrator
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Pei Wei has added "Polynesian Poke" to their menu. Can the end be near?

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