I took my first trip to Panda Express a few days. Two locations have opened in Tallahassee – one on Tennessee Street near FSU’s campus and one on Capital Circle NE near Lowe’s. I went to the one on Capital Circle, which is the newer of the two. The first thing I noticed about Panda Express was the bright colors of the building and exterior sign – “Gourmet Chinese Food.” My initial thought was, “gourmet?” My next thought was, “Yeahhhhhhh!”
Well… upon entering Panda Express, gourmet became the furthest thing from my mind. There’s no menu, just basic pricing (I got “1 side and 2 entrees”) and a long cafeteria-style a la carte hot bar with a register at the end. Even though I was taken back by the set up, the idea is pretty neat. I like seeing what my choices are and being served instantly. The servers also offered me the opportunity to taste the entrees before selecting. After you select your side and entree(s), you pay, grab a drink and it’s time to eat. The prices are on par with other fast-casual places – under $10 for a meal and drink.
I decided to order the Kung Pao Chicken (without sampling first), cream cheese rangoons and fried rice. My friend ordered the Shanghai Angus Steak with chow mein and cream cheese rangoons. The servings were plentiful – a heaping scroop of both rice and the entree plus three rangoons. They had just ran out when my friend ordered so she only got 2 with the promise of a fresh one being brought to her. She never ended up getting the third one but didn’t mind because she had plenty of food.
I wasn’t too blown away with my food. The Kung Pao chicken only had one flavor: spicy. The rangoons tasted like they had been sitting for a while. The fried rice was fine. My friend’s Shanhai Angus Steak was delicious, though (she let me sample). Overall, I wouldn’t agree with Panda Express’ slogan, “Gourmet Chinese Food,” but I would definitely give it another try. I really like the hot bar concept and the food options. I prefer Tan’s Asian Cafe down the street for Chinese food, but Panda Express is good for a meal in a hurry.
Have you tried Panda Express? What do you think?
Price: Under $10
Atmosphere and cleanliness: Fast-casual seating, clean, family friendly, colorful and bright
Food: So-so. Need to try more.