(Photo via emirates247.com)
On Monday June 17, P.F. Chang's China Bistro welcomed the brand’s co-founder, who is visiting the Middle East in celebration of the brand’s 20th anniversary. At a special lunch, hosted by Philip Chiang, guests were invited to sample famous signature dishes at the restaurant in ABC Ashrafieh. Before the exquisite tasting experience, Beirut.com sat down with both Marketing Vice President Genero Perez and Co-founder Philip Chiang (who's name actually differs from the restaurant's) to try and find out what makes this number one Chinese bistro special to its Lebanese clients.
Beirut.com: Why did you decide to open P.F. Chang’s in Lebanon?
Perez: We've been open for almost a year now in Lebanon and it's one of our 240 restaurants internationally. I think what made this combination work was that we were lucky, successful, and blessed to be well received in Middle East.
When we first decided to franchise in the Middle East, we looked at Turkey and Lebanon, and giving the fact that we found the right partner, it was only a matter of time and location before we settled in Lebanon’s first branch. It’s clearly a combination of everything.
If we weren't as confident that the market will receive us well, we wouldn't be here. And this is because there’s nothing like us in the market: we’re a fine dining Chinese cuisine with a casual dining ambiance and we have a great value experience.
Beirut.com: What makes your food unique?
Chiang: It’s the whole process we take to produce the food: a combination of fresh ingredients that are prepped daily and cooked to order. We take all the steps that ensure the quality of the food and its consistency throughout the world. Our food tastes actually the same throughout the world. If you've been craving one of our beef recipes that you've tasted somewhere else, you’ll have it here too.
Beirut.com: What makes your Lebanese clients special?
Perez: Each country is different of course but the Lebanese consumers are very happy people who love to go out, see people, and of course be seen. So being part of that equation is something that we appreciate. Many people come here to have dinner and drinks and go out and party, or enjoy happy hour or spend time with the family. Lebanese are best described with the French expression “joie de vivre” and we all know that the vibe that Beirut has is very unique.
Chiang: I think Beirut is a very diverse town and we've become part of its diversity. We play a part of it now—being a new Asian cuisine choice. Lebanon is a country that loves food and that’s what we think makes our clients very special.
Beirut.com: What changed during the last 20 years since you first opened?
Chiang: We've set a foundation that hasn't changed. Obviously we’re bigger worldwide but the food side is still somehow the same. We all evolve with the needs of our customer and we try to listen to what they’re interested in service wise and food wise, only to keep up with today’s fast pace. We’re going back to basics for the moment being; there’s been a period of time where we expanded the menu but now we’re going back to the things that worked for us best in the past.
Beirut.com: Do you have any hobbies you’d like to share with our readers?
Chiang: I enjoy painting a lot; German artist Neil Rauch is one of my favorite artists.
Perez: I’m a travelling addict; I like travel and it’s both my work and my hobby. What I like the most about travelling is seeing how people behave and [being able to] ask them questions [and] share their culture. If I had to pick favorite countries that I've visited I’d say—in Latin America—Peru, for both its food and rich history and culture. In Europe—it’s a bit tacky—but I’ll pick Paris, and I’m biased to Barcelona because my family is from there. As for the Middle East, I’ll pick Turkey, and in Asia there’s so many to pick from and being a foodie like myself, the place where I love the food becomes my favorite country.
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