When Chinese People Try Panda Express for the First Time

I was going to wrote something and setup the questions, but then maybe it is better we all watch this video as it is. Panda Express is an American-Chinese Fast food restaurant chain.

Actually, I don’t know if this should belong to “General”, “Food Media” or Chain". Although this is from youtube and buzzfeed (media) and they are discussing Panda Express (a chain), I feel the interesting part is really how different Chinese people react to American-influenced Chinese food. Please feel free to move it to a more fitting location

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Only goes to show that simply being of a particular nationality doesn’t automatically make one a culinary snob/protector of authenticity.

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I saw that article a few days ago in the Times, Panda’s 2nd attempt in NYC. If places like dominoes and pizza hut make it, not surprised if Panda does too

This video is part of an article? I didn’t know. I just stumbled it on youtube. and thought it is funny and to be honest a bit unexpected.

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From your article:

<Korean-American chef David Chang, who estimates that he has succumbed to
Panda Express a half-dozen times in the last two years. This usually
happens, he said, when he’s waiting at an airport and “it’s like I’m
stuck on a desert island.”…“Do I gnaw on my own thumb, or do I get orange chicken?” said Mr. Chang>
< “After 1,800 locations, to be that consistently mediocre is unbelievable. It’s something we can all aspire to.”>


To be honest, most airports have more than Panda Express. David Chang should have more choices than Panda Express and his thumb.

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That was fun! It doesn’t convince me to try Panda Express, though. :smile:

Me either. However, what I took from the video is that the old generation Chinese were less picky (minor criticisms), and the young generation Chinese were more opinionated. I wonder if it is a young vs old thing, or a generational thing or others.

Funny…I saw it as a young vs old thing too

By the way, just want to be clear. When I said young vs old, I mean exactly what you said. People who are in their 17-25 vs people in their 60s. What I meant by generational is something else. I meant people who were born in 1950-60s vs people who were born in 1990-2000.

it was featured on CH some time ago (no, I can’t remember when)

I think it was on BuzzFeed – actually, I was kind of impressed that the older folks approved of most of it.

The younger guy mostly seemed to be impressed with the sound of his own voice – I have a hunch he lives on peanut butter and ramen noodles.


I wondered if their preferences had anything to do with how “Americanized” their eating habits were.

Sometimes it amazes me that with all the great restaurants NYC has to offer – on every street, in every neighborhood, in all price ranges – places like Olive Garden, Dominoes and TGI Friday’s are continually mobbed. Chic-Fil-A was set to open their first NYC outpost this week, too. Maybe it’s mostly tourists who are afraid to break out of their home eating habits who are supporting the chains. What I mean is, they opt for something predictably safe, rather than try something new. Have you ever seen the lines at the Olive Garden across from the TKTS booth at Times Square? How else can you explain it???

I haven’t been there in a few years, but the last time I went through Penn Station to the LIRR, the independent pizza joint was now a chain, either Dominos or Pizza Hut. No tourists there to speak of.

I’ve given them up. Every thing I tried was unrelentingly sweet.

I think thinking that the younger people (in the video) has more to prove about their Chinese knowledge and heritage. The older folks won’t be judged the same. Yes, you may say the older Chinese (in the video) has poor taste, but you won’t able to say that they are Americanized or “not Chinese” enough. The younger crowd looks to be born in US or Canada, and therefore has more to prove.

NPR sometime ago have something on air something about children born from a black and a white parent have more to prove about their racial identity.

Near Times Square, yes, those are tourists, but let’s be honest: There are McDonald’s, and even worse, Subways (what a horrible smell always wafts from them!) all over town. They are not surviving only on tourist dollars.

Interesting. The Chinese people they asked to try Panda Express are a LOT more forgiving and tolerant than I am. For me, Panda Express is to Chinese food as a marshmallow is to calamari. You don’t want to go there!

Interestingly, last night I was browsing global Chinese restaurant menus on line. (okay, when you’re bored you gotta come up with something to do, you know?") I found a really interesting Chinese restaurant in London with a pretty exhaustive menu and one of the categories was a whole section of “CHINESE AMERICAN DISHES.” That category is the first I’ve ever come across on an actual menu, but there’s always the chance I simply wasn’t paying attention. Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me to book mark the page. Sorry. I hope it catches on on a global scale beccause I like a little warning when a place is going to serve me Panda Express! :panda_face: :disappointed:

That is a bad example for me because I like marshmallow. :smiley: , but I can understand what you are trying to say.

I think the older Chinese in the video were not exactly saying Panda Express is great. It is just that it is fine. Maybe they go in with a lower expectation, like I am fine with eating McDonald, but I certainly want to eat McDonald quality of food at a high end or even medium range restaurant.

Nice, a Chinese-American section in a British restaurant. There is probably cult following. Wow, you even have a panda icon.

And YOU have a panda icon too! :panda_face: And a bowl of rice :rice: or ramen :ramen: Gee, CK, you gotta learn to play with your new toys! You’ll find them when you click on the smiley face when you’re writing a post. :older_woman:

Lately I’ve been thinking about how people define what they like (or judge) certain foods by, and especially ethnic foods. It occurs to me that the older a person is, the more likely s/he is to have been exposed to “old fashioned” or “traditional” ethnic foods. For me, this is especially true of most Asian cuisines, but especially Chinese and Japanese. My childhood exposure to Chinese food from the time I was a pre-scholer until I was in high school, was on regular extended visits to my paternal grandparents in San Francisco, where we always had at least one or two meals in the very exotic China Town of Grant Avenue (etc.) of the City by the Bay… And that included the occasional Chinese banquet meals, though my favorite was always dimsum at lunchtime with all of the passing carts with small dishes of incredible and delicious variety! One of the (non-dimsum) banquet dishes I adored (and have NO idea the name of!) was crispy chicken skin wrapped around a lucious shrimp, then combined in a wok with exotic vegetables and a mind blowing sauce! But beyond exotic dishes like sea cucumber and bird’s nest soup, the “marker” for good Chinese food was always that NOTHING was overcooked! Not raw, but still enough “crispness” left in the vegetables that they didn’t taste like they were cooked in the same pot as my mother’s pot roast! And based on my experience, that’s how I would have to classify Panda Express. It lacks “finesse.” (sigh)

As for Japanese food, Well, I could stay up all night writing about this, but… I’ll let it go by saying that there is a LOT more to good Japanese food than sushi, AND that any nori used in making sushi SHOULD be freshly toasted, and you should eat the sushi within two minutes or less of the time the sushi chef makes it. No, I’m not a big maki fan. And to the world’s great loss, in the 21st century it is damned difficult to come by a good kaiseki meal in America.

The end result is that I have pretty much given up holding any hope for “good” Chinese or Japanese food from restaurants. I CAN (and in the past, frequently did) make it all at home. But these days I’m lazy. Ces’t la vie… As I’ve lamented before, the great ethnic foods of the world are being homogenized! I even found bulgogi tacos in a London pub last night, and a Mexican restaurant called “Wahaca!” (Calling all Oaxacans, stay out of London!) It’s all more fun if you can keep your sense of humor. But for me, it’s a stretch sometimes. :rice: :bento: :cactus: