I had heard people talking about Panda Express but I had never personally tried their food until a couple of weeks before this past Christmas. My daughter and I were shopping on a Monday and my husband wanted us to stop at our usual Chinese restaurant for take out. Unfortunately, that particular restaurant is closed on Mondays. My daughter suggested Panda Express, which had newly opened in the area.
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Since Chinese food sounded wonderful after a long day of shopping, I agreed. We went inside and checked out what they had to offer. Glancing at the menu, I was pleasantly surprised by their prices in comparison to our usual Chinese restaurant.
Side Dishes: Mixed Veggies, Fried Rice, Steamed Rice, and Chow Mein
Entrees: Orange Chicken, Beijing Beef, Sweet & Sour Pork, Broccoli Beef, Kung Pao Chicken, Chicken Egg Rolls, Veggie Spring Rolls, Crispy Shrimp, Mandarin Chicken, and Mushroom Chicken.
Two Entree Plate - includes any two entrees and one side
Three Entree Plate - includes any three entrees and one side
Kids's Meal (for those age 11 and under) - includes a junior size entree, side, 12 ounce drink, and dessert
Panda Bowl - includes any one entree and one side
A La Carte - any entree or side can be purchased separately
Panda Feast - any three large entrees and two large sides
They also sell party trays if you are having a large group of people over. As an example, a party tray for 16 people includes two party tray entrees, two party tray sides and fortune cookies for 16 people for $80.00 (which equates to $5.00 per person). They also have party trays for 24 people ($115.00, or $4.80 per person) and 32 people ($145.00, or $4.54 per person).
Since we like to have leftovers of Chinese food for lunch the following day, I opted to purchase the Panda Feast. This comes with the three large entrees, two large sides, fortune cookies, and chopsticks. We like food that is on the spicy side, so our choices included the Orange Chicken, Beijing Beef, and Kung Pao Chicken. For sides we chose Fried Rice and Chow Mein.
We have since eaten there several more times, and have also tried the Mandarin Chicken. Spicy foods are clearly marked so you can choose non-spicy if you prefer.
We always get take out, but you can eat inside the restaurant if you choose.
All I can say is wow. The food is absolutely delicious. It is not only flavorful, the presentation is excellent and is yummy to the eyes as well as the tummy. I give this restaurant extremely high marks for producing a quality product. The food is made on-site as needed and it is an incredibly popular restaurant, which means the food doesn't sit long enough in the warmer to get tough or stale.
The employees at our local Panda Express do an excellent job of customer service. Every time we have gone there we have been treated very well. The employees are friendly and courteous. They smile and they make each customer feel like a welcomed guest.
We inevitably have to wait for our order while they cook up new batches of items, but the food is well worth the wait.
I think the prices are very reasonable. For example, the Panda Feast is $27.00. This will feed us dinner one night and lunch for a couple of days afterwards. A two entree plate is $5.75, a three entree plate is $7.00, and a panda bowl is only $4.75. The kid's meal sells for $3.95. Individual entrees are $2.90 for small and $8.90 for large. Individual sides are $1.90 for small and $2.90 for large.
Note: small shrimp entrees are $1.00 extra, and large shrimp entrees are $3.00 extra.
Restaurant Design and Cleanliness
Panda Express is set up as a buffet-type serving line. You start out with the side dishes at the front of the line and move your way around past the entrees until you finally reach the cash register.
Every time I have been in the restaurant it has been spotlessly clean. The tables are cleaned as soon as they are vacated. The restrooms are spotless and well-stocked. The floors in the entire place shine.
To my husband's dismay, I actually prefer Panda Express to our usual Chinese restaurant. The food tastes better to me and is far less expensive. It has become a frequent occurrance for me to stop and get take out when I pick my daughter up at her dad's on Sundays, and I can't see us changing our pattern any time soon.
If you haven't tried Panda Express and there is one in your area I highly recommend it.
For more information, visit www.pandaexpress.com
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