|7th Avenue & McDowell location|
“Eat in Five Languages: Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese”
Pei Wei is casual dining mixed with fast food, the type of restaurant where you seat yourself (unless it’s really crowded), order at the counter and get your own drink. But, they will bring your delicious food to you, and the interior is decorated nicely. So, it’s a step above fast food joints. A small, nicely decorated step, but a step above nonetheless.
The menu is varied, obviously, if you can "eat in five languages". They offer many menu items as vegetarian, and even offer a Gluten-Free menu. There are only 3 salads on their Salad menu, but I’ve never thought of Asian food as having a lot of salads anyway. The stars of the show are the Noodle/Rice Bowls and Signature Dishes, which have many options. You pick your base dish and choose your protein source (chicken, beef, pork or shrimp, or veggies).
I’ve been to Pei Wei several times, to several different locations here in Phoenix, and only had a few dishes. I found a dish I love (Pad Thai) and tend to order that each time. Call me boring - I know what I like! My hubby is a little more adventurous and has tried several dishes, one of which (Dan Dan Noodles) we started making at home – well, his own version – since he liked it so much and it seemed really simple to do a semi-raw version. The last few times I’ve been to Pei Wei, the atmosphere was loud and annoying. It would be less annoying if we weren’t there at the same time as everyone else. We were attempting to beat the lunch crowd by meeting at 11:30, but it seems we were not the only ones with that idea, and we found ourselves right smack dab in the middle of the lunch crowd. Line out the door, music and chatting noises increasing in volume with each minute. Not my idea of a pleasant, relaxing lunch.
Some people love Pei Wei and others think it’s nothing to write home about. It probably depends largely on what you have. I would say Pei Wei is good Asian food, and it is kind of cool to go to one restaurant and be able to try a Japanese dish, or a Thai dish. If you have limited lunch time, it can also be very fast. But, if you, like me, want to enjoy your lunch break, I would not recommend going to Pei Wei between 11:30 and 1pm. It is too loud to enjoy any conversation with your lunch companions. And, I don’t know about you, but I can’t sit and enjoy my meal when there’s a line of people staring at our table to see how soon we might be leaving so that they might grab it. Of course, you could always call ahead or even order online now and just pick it up and go. Go to a nice, quiet place away from work where you can really enjoy the taste of the food. Soon it will be such nice weather here in Phoenix that I would love to eat lunch outside, maybe at a park with some water so I can watch the birds!