Okay, go ahead. Go right ahead and laugh. In fact, throw some tomatoes at me. Wait, save those for a nice sauce... Panda Express. Need I say more? Considered the antithesis of real Chinese food by many while ridiculed for its non-Asian staff, I personally think it is often misunderstood. You see, there is no reason to compare it with an authentic Chinese restaurant. C'mon. Really. It's North American Chinese fast food. It is what it is. If you really needed to compare with anything, you'd have to look at places such as Manchu Wok, Flaming Wok, Famous Wok and the sort. So why on Earth did I end up with Panda Express food despite the plethora of really good eats in Portland? How about visiting the food carts and my son not wanting to eat any of it. I had to practically force him to eat the fries from Potato Champion! For the love of... What kid doesn't like fries??? Thus, it forced my hand. I resorted to visiting a place which would most certainly lead to my ancestors rolling in their graves. But hold it right there. As mentioned, I don't come to Panda Express looking for a 10-course Chinese meal, unless I wanted fried meat slathered in every colour of the rainbow.
It was getting late and we pulled up and walked in. Other than the one Asian employee, we were the only Asians in the place. We ended up getting a 2-item and 3-item meal each. Viv went for steamed rice with Mushroom Chicken and Veggies. I went for the triple crown of fried with Chow Mein with Beijing Beef, Mandarin Chicken and Sweetfire Chicken. The Chow Mein was mainly for the kiddies and yup, they ate it. Well, it was Americanized chow mein, what can I say? The Beijing Beef was actually pretty decent compared to other "ginger-type" beef dishes. Large slices of meat that was not fried to a crisp combined with lots of flavour, it was alright. I wasn't so fond of their Mandarin Chicken. I've had it in the past and when done right, it's moist with a crunchy exterior laced with a sweet and tangy sauce. This time, it was dry. The Sweetfire Chicken was essentially the same with a different sauce.
On the other hand, the Mushroom Chicken was quite good. The chicken was tender and cooked right while the zucchini was still a bit firm. The Mixed Veggies were really crisp and still had life in them. Too bad that there was no flavour whatsoever. Yah, yah, I'm sure some of you are snickering at me as you read this. But once again, let's not look at this as real Chinese food. On a side note, I've had "Chinese food" that has less in common with the actual cuisine than Panda Express. I'm in no way, shape or form implying that Panda Express is something that I would frequently eat. However, in a pinch and with reasonable expectations (or low expectations), it is your typical North American Chinese food. It's too bad that they advertise it to be "gourmet" Chinese food though... Makes for an easy target to ridicule...
- It's convenient
- If you are expecting North American Chinese food
- If you are expecting authentic Chinese cuisine
- Some of the stuff looks to be sitting out too long
- Lots of fried stuff with sweet and sour sauces