Pei Wei: Honey Seared Chicken

Posted: January 26, 2012

Company description: Honey garlic sauce, chili oil, rice sticks, scallions, red bell peppers. (Recommended with crispy chicken or shrimp.)

Chain: Pei Wei.

Location: 4040 City Ave.

Order time: 5 minutes.

Price: $8.25.

Calories: The gang ordered the "30 percent less fat" version: 330 calories, 8 grams of fat and 430 mg salt. (Get it the normal way, without the "velvet stock" and it's 430 calories, 15 grams of fat and 640 mg salt.) Totals don't include rice.

Review: For a chain restaurant that's a cut above fast-food quality but close to equal in speed (assuming they have enough people working the registers), Pei Wei's new signature chicken dishes with the velvet stock substitute are reasonably healthy without sacrificing flavor. The Honey Seared Chicken is all white meat (not breaded or deep fried) and glazed with a sauce that's just sweet enough. One of our fellow gang members (a Pei Wei regular who loves her Pei Wei Spicy Steak - 660 calories, 30 grams fat and 1,130 mg salt - on fried rice) was nervous about trying the healthier chicken version (410 calories, 12 grams of fat, 730 mg salt).

While it looked incredibly bland, she was pleasantly surprised at how tasty it was. The sauce retained its sweet and spicy flavor; the chicken was juicy and tender. And there was enough left over for dinner.

One drawback: When we asked at the counter for the prominently displayed new, healthy versions, the befuddled cashier went into the kitchen to find out what we were talking about.

Every other Thursday the Chain Gang reviews the latest chain restaurant dishes.

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