Fast-casual gluten-free Chinese without all the substitutions and blandness- Pei Wei Asian Diner (Aventura)

Last Sunday I was hanging out with my little brother and we had made plans to go to the beach. I was leaving for Portland on Tuesday so I wanted to get a lot of sun (I’m held to a high standard of being tan when I go back home). Unfortunately the summer weather did not cooperate and it was very very grey and then rainy at times. So instead we went to a movie at Aventura (Guardians of the Galaxy, which was pretty hilarious).

Afterwards I was looking around for places to go for lunch and saw Pei Wei Asian Diner. I had been there once before with my aunt and uncle. I remembered thinking it didn’t have as many options as PF Changs (review here). It’s more fast casual and less expensive than PF Changs so I think I was being overly harsh on my first visit. My little brother was good with Chinese so we went to Pei Wei for lunch.

Pei Wei Asian Diner is owned by PF Changs and has similar food. What separates it from PF Changs is that you order at the counter, it has less menu options, and is overall more fast casual. However at least on the gluten-free end the food is very similar to PF Changs just cheaper.

Pei Wei unfortunately doesn’t have the gluten-free lettuce wraps that PF Changs has, but they do have gluten-free Vietnamese chicken salad rolls. I got that and an order of the spicy chicken. My little brother got the regular sweet and sour beef with rice on the side.

I’d had the spicy chicken at PF Changs before and this was very similar. I love that you get the spicy kick and the “breaded” feel, but it’s gluten-free! You pretty much can only get this at Pei Wei or PF Changs. All other Chinese restaurants can really do is the meat and vegetables without soy sauce (in my experience). I hadn’t had the spicy chicken in a while at PF Changs, since they added their beef dishes, so this was a nice change. This time around I was much more grateful (rightfully) to have Pei Wei as a gluten-free option. I also really enjoyed the the Vietnamese chicken rolls. Similar to the spicy chicken it almost makes you think you’re eating gluten and shouldn’t stop eating. But it’s made with rice paper and gluten-free! It’s not as crispy (in a fried way) as an egg roll, but it somewhat starts to fulfill cravings people might have for egg rolls (plus there is some crunch with the rice noodles). I really liked that it was more put together (in a roll) and lighter than the chicken lettuce wraps at PF Changs (which is a little more messy and kind of heavy on the soy sauce). They’re two pretty different dishes so I’m hesitant to pick a favorite, but I might surprisingly have to go with the Vietnamese salad rolls.

My little brother was open to getting Chinese, but I know his tastes are a little bit more simple, so I was curious to see what he thought. He loved his regular sweet and sour beef (raved about it) and so I know it won’t be hard to convince him to take a return trip.

The only downside is that I do wish they had some gluten-free beef options (especially since PF Changs has so many delicious ones). My other gluten-free options were sweet and sour chicken, sweet and sour shrimp with chicken, or spicy shrimp. I’m not a big shrimp fan, but I do think next time I’ll try the sweet and sour chicken. It’s not a big deal they don’t have beef, because Pei Wei is still a great gluten-free option.

Pei Wei is another great chain to have on hand for gluten-frees (celebrate!). If you’re looking for more fast casual/cheaper it’s a great alternative to PF Changs (which in Aventura is right down the street from Pei Wei). For non-gluten frees it’s a nice step-up from places like Panda Express and you know what you’re getting with fast casual chains like Pei Wei. Gluten-frees take a look at the pics below (although it might induce some cravings!).

Pei Wei Asian Diner- 18801 Biscayne Blvd Aventura, FL (over 10 other locations in South Florida and a national chain)

www.peiwei.com

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Vietnamese chicken salad rolls

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The inside of the salad roll

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Gluten-free spicy chicken

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