A guy hugged me recently, then looked shocked. "After living on the West Coast," he confessed, "hugging someone with real breasts feels funny." Chain restaurants are the cultural equivalent of fake boobs. They used to be few and far between, but now, like breast implants, chain restaurants are everywhere. And while both look great, the plastic consistency that the masses crave is just never as rewarding as a true local flavor or feel. When a friend gathered several more friends -- all with their original tits -- for a birthday celebration at P.F. Chang's, I presented them with my chain/chest theory. But while Chang's is technically a chain restaurant, I couldn't help but enjoy my time there -- partly because of Chris the very sincere and engaging bartender, and partly because of Chris the birthday girl, who says that if she is ever on death row, she'll request the pan-fried shrimp dumplings for her last meal. I'd throw in an Asian Pear Mojito ($8.50), made with the traditional macerated mint as well as Bacardi Limón rum, DeKuyper Apple Pucker and pineapple juice. There wasn't a drop of pear-flavored liquor in the delicious drink, which just proves that sometimes faking it is best for everyone involved.
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