Monday, November 17, 2008

Panda Express Premier Proves Pitiful

Sorry, I was trying to see how far I could go with alliteration. Apparently, that far. I don't know when Panda Express opened at Cross Creek, but Nick noticed today that it was open, so we stopped in for dinner. I have never experienced a Panda Express, but I was hoping against all odds that it vaguely resembled Pei Wei. No such luck. First of all, the presentation of available meals was confusing. Basically, you can pick 2 or 3 entrees and 1 side for a set price. Everything else is a la carte. The menu board only listed the available combinations, but not the entrees themselves. I asked someone cleaning the tables if she could tell me what the entrees were. She gave us a brochure, but when we got to the serving line, there were at least twice as many entrees as the brochure listed. I really wanted the Orange Chicken, which is supposed to be their signature entree, but the brochure indicated this was spicy, so I chose the Mandarian Chicken instead. Besides not even remotely resembling the picture on the brochure, this dish had a strange spice that I despised. I think it was allspice. I chose to get two vegetable spring rolls and chow mein to complete my meal. The spring rolls were not very flavorful, even with a liberal dousing of duck sauce, and the chow mein was awful. Nick got the Orange Chicken and Bejing Beef dish. The Orange Chicken was not spicy at all, so we traded, and Nick ate the Mandarian Chicken. I tasted his fried rice which was okay. If I were to try this again, I would get the Orange Chicken over white rice in a bowl. Because Fayetteville has so many excellent Asian themed restaurants, I seriously doubt that the Panda Express will be able to survive. It's really a shame because the concept is a good one and the Panda mascot is adorable.