I was surprised to see a picture of some of my running friends eating at the Panda Express Restaurant/Fast Food on Facebook and I have to immediately research on the exact location of the place. I found out later that the Fast Food Branch is located at the SM Megamall Shopping Center. At the first chance that I went to Metro Manila to have a meeting and transact some business with my financial investment offices, I had to make a schedule to actually see and dine with the said restaurant.
For the past years that I have been visiting the United States, it was always Panda Express where I would eat a fast Chinese cuisine. Actually, I was in the United States for the first time when I went on a military schooling in Fort Benning, Georgia that I was able to find out and ate at the first branch of the said restaurant in Glendale, California. After my schooling, I stayed for almost a year in Los Angeles, California as part of my academic leave. During this brief period, I have seen how the franchise grew in Los Angeles and most parts of California. Since then, Panda Express is my first choice for a fast Chinese Cuisine whenever I would stay and visit the United States. And it is so funny that whenever I leave Los Angeles Airport for my trip back to Manila, Panda Express would be my last meal before boarding the plane. However, it is not necessary that I would crave for the said restaurant as soon as I arrive in Los Angeles.
Intrigue if their first branch in the Philippines have the same taste as the food they serve after 38 years that they had been in the United States since it was founded, I would not let my next opportunity to visit Manila to pass without having my meal at the Panda Express at SM Megamall. And so, on February 26, 2021, I had my lunch with my favorite Panda Express Meal consisting of Fried Noodles (Chow Mein)/Half, Friend Rice/Half, Orange Chicken (Small), Beef Broccoli (Small), and Coke. The whole Panda Plate Meal was priced at P 275.00 (less 20% of my Senior Citizen’s Discount which is P 50.00). So, I paid P 225.00 for the Plate Meal. Not bad! As far as I can remember, this Panda Plate Meal would cost me $ 11-12.00 to include the Softdrinks based from my experience on my last visit to the United States last November 2019. From the pricing alone, the serving is very cheap.
Now let us go to the taste of each of the food I have ordered. They got the taste of the Orange Chicken at 100% the same as what is the taste in the US. For the Fried Rice, Chow Mein, and Beef Broccoli, they need more some soy sauce for a more salty taste. Maybe, it is just me but my taste prefer more of the salty side. When I asked from the waitress for some sachet of soy sauce and hot sauce which are normally present and readily available as condiment in the US, the waitress said that they don’t have any. So, those are two things that the restaurant should improve on: tastier fried rice/chow mein/beef broccoli and the availability of soy sauce and hot sauce or any condiments in sachets. Overall, the service is very fast! Lastly, the restaurant don’t have a trash bin where the customers could bring their used trays and styro packs/plates. It is always my practice to throw the styro pack/plate to the trash bins and leave the serving tray on top of the trash bin. McDonald’s Fastfood outlets have this kind trash bins where each customer are encouraged to clean their table after eating.
For those who have not experienced eating at Panda Express, it is highly recommended for you to experience how the food is served and how their food taste as a Chinese Cuisine. Finally, I am glad that Panda Express is already in the Philippines. Will it prosper or be successful here for the locals? Only time will tell!