When Chinese People Try Panda Express for the First Time

I actually have not dined at Panda Express, but I have walked pass them many times. If I am correct, they are mostly “cooked food under heat lamps”, right? If so, it is difficult not to lack finesse.

You got it! :trophy:

It’s the tourists. Same in Philly the Hard Rock Cafe near the convention center and Maggianos are perpetually mobbed as are the Olive Garden and the new Cheesecake Factory and there are tons of really great reasonable restaurants nearby these atrocities of cuisine

Some people love adventure when it comes to food and others really fear it - NYC is scary, cabs and subways are scary, half naked women who want to make you pay for taking a picture with them are scary, Homeless people are scary - walking into an unknown restaurant with NO IDEA what the food may be like and how it will arrive on your plate is downright terrifying. After a long exhausting day of Times Square and the Statue of Liberty and every other tourist attraction and entirely missing the point of NYC in the process settling into a comforting and familiar meal of breadsticks and pasta mush is a safe and familiar respite from the horrors of the big city. For an amazing number of people surprise is the last thing they want when it comes to food.

That was cute. I always wish they wouldn’t tell the people where it was from before they taste it though.

So true. Not to cloud their first impression, right?

Oh, yeah! I saw a line at the Cheesecake Factory and couldn’t believe my eyes - given the fantastic local culinary scene… as it was, we were on our way to current darling Vernick.

I’m just glad they hid it inside a modern building instead of putting up some suburban style schlock

Our Cheesecake factory is always busy too. I think the draw of the Cheesecake factory is the atmosphere and the very giant menu.

Atmosphere?? :stuck_out_tongue:

Well, the one near me is so busy between 5 and 7PM that almost very entree is pretty freshly cooked. Just sayin’.

My take FWIW:

  1. Panda Express isn’t trying to be great regional Chinese cuisine. They’re just a rather nicely priced place for REALLY Americanized Chinese takeout. Actually they’re food is better (IMHO) than Pick-Up-Stix (not sure how national they are) and a better value.

  2. Given the choice between Panda and one of the really good regional Chinese restaurants near me (Irvine, CA) I’d take Irvine 100% of the time. But, when I’m on my way home from work and need something inexpensive and filling, they’re just fine. Not every meal has to be great.

  3. Except for the Orange Chicken and Kung Pao in the video, everything else tasted is just ‘sides’ and I wouldn’t judge the place on them at all.

  4. I HAVE been known to ramp up the chow mein and fried rice with some extra saucing I get at 99 Ranch Market, so I guess I cheat a little.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


I have absolutely no problem with Panda Express, or any other Americanized Chinese takeout place; no, they aren’t “good Chinese food”, they’re inexpensive, consistent, decent Americanized Chinese food. Two very different cuisines with similar names. I recommend checking out the book “The Fortune Cookie Chronicles” by Jennifer 8. Lee; it talks a lot about the evolution of Americanized Chinese food, and how a completely new cuisine can evolve in a new country. Most of the stuff Panda Express sells bears no relation to food you’d get in China, and that’s OK. Two very different things.

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the giant menu is what makes all of those places work - everyone can find something to eat - with a work group of fussy extended family sometimes they are the path of least resistance - nothing worse than watching picky eaters nervously try to navigate a restaurant menu and end up unable to eat their meal due to an unexpected sauce or garnish


100% agree. When we have a large party, people will sometime suggest to go there, just so someone can have something. Anything from “Burgers” to “Italian” to “Fusion Asian” to even “Vegan”…

The problem … it seems that the very huge menu makes Cheesecake Factory a “Jack of All Trade, but Master of None”. I cannot pinpoint one thing which jumps out at me from the Cheesecake Factory menu. Even McDonald, I can say I like the Fish-o-Filet.

That maybe is a good thing afterall.

Yeah. :slight_smile: I mean it. Cheesecake Factory (the ones I have been to) have at least medium-ish or medium-high-ish atmosphere. Higher than Applebees or Uno or whatever,… so it is not a bad place for business lunches.

Did I tell you that I really like their bathrooms. :smiley: So pretty.

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At the risk of aiding the thread drift here I’ll insert that I usually order the lettuce wraps at CF. That sometimes even leaves room for dessert.

Does it look like this? I have never had it, but if it looks like this, then it is pretty awesome looking:

P.S.: Considering that I am the original poster… I am sure no one can accuse me of drifting away from my own post. :smiley:

I think the closest thing to a ‘signature’ item they have are the Avocado Egg Rolls, which are literally eggroll shells stuffed with gigantic amounts of avocado and not much else, and deep fried. I’ve had them, and the first bites are fantastic, but after that you sort of start to hate yourself.

And yes, Cheesecake Factory absolutely has atmosphere. The ones I get taken to by family are designed to look massively opulent, like a Las Vegas version of Rome.

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Ha ha ha. I laughed because there is a good deal of truth to this analogy.
How can something be so true and so mean at the same time?

“like a Las Vegas version of Rome.”

That’s all I needed to know to convince me to never set foot into that place. Not that I would’ve in the first place :smiley: