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REVIEW: Pei Wei Asian Diner

Louis Fowler / Red Dirt Report
The sweet chili sauce and crab wontons at Pei Wei.
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Rusty's Score
1.5
1.5 Rustys

I honestly don’t know why I stopped at the Pei Wei in Belle Isle. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Logistically, I was a mere mile or so away from the Vietnamese District of Oklahoma City, which as we all know, is filled with some of the most intriguingly delicious and indubitably delectable Asian food from any and all regions of that mighty continent to choose from, yet, for some idiotic reason, I decided to grab a quick bite to eat at this strip-mall P.F. Chang’s-lite.

The deadly sin of laziness, I guess.

Designed to feel like a cross between a new Chipotle and an Asian bistro café dreamt by a bleating Phillip K. Dick, the numerous flashing monitors display the latest menu items while others numbly televise the current menu, metallic silver mingling with a few Asian touches here and there; the only thing colder than the atmosphere was the waitstaff, rushing patrons along and even getting a tad huffy if your mind wasn’t completely made up by the time you got to the counter.

While my dining companion had no problem ordering the standard Fried Rice (with extra vegetables) ($8.69), I felt a little bit rushed and tried the Japanese Steak and Shrimp Chile Ramen bowl ($8.99) under mild duress, with a mildly thought-out appetizer of Crab Wontons ($4.99) to start, a selection that I was excitably sure would be the absolute highlight of the meal, number in hand, waiting for our food to be delivered.

(Louis Fowler/ Red Dirt Report )

Crab wontons are an absolute staple of my plate whenever I dine on Chinese food, whether it’s an a la carte starter or a part of a full, well-rounded meal. Either way, they are my go-to appetizer and just writing about the very idea of these puffy little wonders is delivering desperate crave-vibrations to my stomach and brain concurrently. They’re hard to screw up.

But somehow Pei Wei managed to screw these up. From the thoroughly bland mixture of crab, cream cheese and scallions to the absolutely overpowering sweet chile sauce that flooded my tiny plate, making a soggy mess that, if I was that guy, I would’ve sent back.

Sadly, I’m not that guy.

My companion’s Fried Rice was moist enough, but with only the slightest hint of that seasoned wok taste that makes fried rice so addictive. Plenty of available sauces were needed to add some flavor to the proceedings but, even more suspect than that, the vegetables, in particular, the snap peas, tasted far from fresh. With a rubbery texture and a definite freezer-quality to them, the heart fell into a soy-drenched malaise, knowing that right up the road, happier patrons were being served the real thing.

I very rarely take leftovers home, but I ended up packing up most of my Japanese Steak and Shrimp Chile Ramen bowl and letting sit in the fridge for two days before revisiting it. From the first bite, the “spicy-savory Japanese sauce” that covered the noodles tasted very…artificial. Plasticine, if you will. It didn’t mix well with the heavily coated shrimp and the rough bits of steak, problems in their own right. It didn’t make for a very pleasurable dining experience, so I just gave up and doubled down on my refill of ice water.

I could say that I was tired, that I had been shopping and running errands and just wanted something quick and easy—and yes, that’s true—but, by cutting culinary corners all I did was really make a busy day busier, both in my stomach and in my soul. With Fung’s, Grand House and numerous pho joints a mere drive away, I really should’ve known better. Really. ¡Cómpralo ya!

Pei Wei
1841 Belle Isle Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK 73118
Phone: (405) 767-9001
https://www.peiwei.com

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About the Author

Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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