QUICK REVIEW: Panda Express Golden Szechuan Fish

Panda Express Golden Szechuan Fish

Purchased Price: $9.57 (2-entree plate with premium)
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Panda Express
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: It’s Panda Express’ first fish product that’s been rolled out nationwide (They’ve been testing other fish dishes over the past few years). Tender, flaky fish with a pleasant fishy flavor. Sugar peas were crispy. Made with 100 percent wild-caught North Pacific Cod. Edges of battered fish were still crispy even though it was sitting in sauce on the drive home.
Cons: Having to pay a $1.25 premium for it; doesn’t taste like it’s worth the additional cost. Szechuan sauce tastes watered down and is more spicy than flavorful. The fish itself has a stronger flavor than the sauce. Ugh…Enough with the red bell peppers; it seems like it’s in 75 percent of Panda’s entrees.

Panda Express Golden Szechuan Fish Closeup

Nutrition Facts: 320 calories, 140 calories from fat, 15 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 450 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 13 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Panda Express Shanghai Angus Steak

Panda Express Shanghai Angus Steak

With menu items like Beijing Beef and their new Shanghai Angus Steak, it’s safe to say Panda Express likes using alliteration and Chinese locations in their entree names, so I’m hoping the next item that pops up on Panda’s menu is Canton Chicken Feet.

If you’re a Chinese cuisine expert, or read Wikipedia entries about Chinese cuisine for 15 minutes, you would know Shanghai is not known at all for steak. Instead, Shanghai, one of the most populated cities in the world, is known for two other foods that begin with the letter S: seafood and stinky tofu. While I could see Shanghai Shrimp being served at Panda Express, I don’t think most American palates and olfactory organs could handle stinky tofu.

But back to Panda Express’ new Shanghai Angus Steak, which consists of thick slices of Angus Top Sirloin marinated with Asian seasonings, asparagus, mushrooms, and Panda’s new zesty Asian steak sauce.

PanEx wasn’t kidding when they said on their website that this entree has “thick cut slices” of Angus steak. (Yes, I’m going to start calling Panda Express, PanEx, like I call American Express, AmEx. Be one of the cool kids and do the same.) Look at the photo above. Then look at the photo below. Some of those chunks are the size of baby limbs.

Baby limbs!

Panda Express Shanghai Angus Steak Closeup

And they’re also as tender as I imagine baby limbs to be. Occasionally, there was some connective tissue or something else, which made part of the meat a little tough, but 98 percent of the time the thick steak slices were easy to chew. The Angus steak also has a nice flavor that wasn’t overwhelmed by the dish’s sauce, which I’ll talk more about in a moment.

The mushroom slices were also substantial. Their size made me wonder if any Smurfs are now homeless. As for the asparagus, the stalks were chopped into one inch pieces, but there weren’t any asparagus tips in the two Shanghai Angus Steak servings I purchased. The “zesty Asian steak sauce” tastes like a light teriyaki sauce with a slight kick at the back end. I could’ve done without the zesty part, but the rest of the sauce was pleasant and, again, it didn’t drown the flavor of the steak.

The Shanghai Angus Steak isn’t as tasty as PanEx’s Beijing Beef, but it’s significantly healthier. A serving of Beijing Beef has 690 calories, 40 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, and 890 milligrams of sodium, while a serving of Shanghai Angus Steak has 220 calories, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, and 910 milligrams of sodium.

Just like when you order a shrimp entree at PanEx, you have to pay an extra dollar for the Shanghai Angus Steak. Is it worth it? I say yes.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 serving – 220 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 910 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 21 grams of protein.)

Item: Panda Express Shanghai Angus Steak
Price: $9.69 (2-entree plate)
Size: 2-entree plate
Purchased at: Panda Express
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Baby limb-sized slices of Angus steak. Huge mushrooms. Tender steak. Pleasant Asian steak sauce. One of the healthier items on the menu. Good source of protein. Calling Panda Express, PanEx.
Cons: Not as tasty as Beijing Beef. Zesty part of sauce seemed unnecessary. Charging an extra dollar per serving. Around for a limited time. Not as tasty as Orange Chicken. Stinky tofu. Homeless Smurfs.

REVIEW: Panda Express Golden Treasure Shrimp

Panda Express Golden Treasure Shrimp

When I think of treasure, naturally, I think of pirates. There is such a strong, fundamental connection between massive hidden hauls of loot and buccaneering that it can be difficult to envision anything else. So you can understand my hesitation to associate pirates with panda bears when I first heard about Panda Express’s newest entry, Golden Treasure Shrimp.

As adorable as pandas in pirate costumes may be, I am tired of pirates. Like so many other North Americans who have been assailed by three (soon to be four) Pirates of the Caribbean films of gradually decreasing quality, numerous high-profile news stories of Somali pirate attacks, several thousand Captain Morgan commercials, and countless Captain Jack Sparrow Halloween costumes, I am so deep in the throes of Pirate Exhaustion that I didn’t want to experience anything pirate-y again for a while. But, by the Beard of Barbarossa, the Golden Treasure Shrimp demands a pirate-speak review. CURSES! Here goes nothing:

Avast ye mateys! Golden Treasure Shrimp ’tis representin’ an improv’ment upon th’ texture and flavor o’ Panda Express’s other tempura shrimp dish, Honey Walnut Shrimp. Accordin’ to th’ proud pronouncements on their site, Golden Treasure Shrimp be a “succulent tempura shrimp, wok tossed with fresh bell peppers in a zesty citrus sauce.”

Arrrr… ‘Tis true, th’ sauce be zesty, but that’s due in no small part t’ its spiciness, which be an unexpected and pleasant surprise. Since th’ coatin’ be so similar t’ PE’s SweetFire Chicken’s sweet chili sauce, I wonder why th’ scalawags dinnae just call th’ new dish SweetFire Shrimp. While only a wee bit citrus-y, th’ sauce has a bold flavor ‘n a nice “lip spiciness” that provides enough heat t’ make it interestin’ without becomin’ too overpowerin’ or painful. A smart sip of grog should cure what’ever lingerin’ heat ails ya.

Panda Express Golden Treasure Shrimp Closeup

Bein’ a lubber o’ tempura-style anythin’, I was pleased t’ find th’ Golden Treasure Shrimp’s batter was crispy despite o’ th’ fact that it be drenched in tangy sauce. However, if let sit for a while, I imagine th’ batter would smartly become soggy. Good thin’ I dinnae wait. Th’ tempura coatin’ be a wee bit heavy ‘n leaves a touch o’ residue on th’ tongue, since it be a tad oily, but th’ shrimp itself be tender ‘n tasty, ‘n weren’t overpower’d by th’ coatin’.

Th’ only downside be th’ sparse addition o’ chopped bell peppers. There were not that many peppers in me servin’ o’ Golden Treasure Shrimp, and they be tiny pieces t’ begin with, so they hardly added t’ th’ overall presentation. But if you enjoy flecks o’ color in your food, these peppers accomplish that job. Compared t’ th’ Honey Walnut Shrimp, th’ Golden Treasure Shrimp be a nice kick in th’ britches, says I. Yeeeaaaarrr!

(Nutrition Facts – 5 ounces – 390 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 115 milligrams of cholesterol, 500 milligrams of sodium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, 16 grams of protein.)

Item: Panda Express Golden Treasure Shrimp
Price: Free sample during promotion (normally $6.57 incl. tax for a Panda Bowl)
Size: 5 ounces
Purchased at: Panda Express
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Pandas in Pirate costumes. Shrimp is tender and tasty. Hidden hauls of loot. Spicy sauce is a tasty surprise and isn’t overpowering. Tempura-style anything.
Cons: Pirate Exhaustion. Bell peppers are rather sparse. Captain Jack Sparrow. Sauce isn’t all that citrus-y. Tempura coating is heavy and a little oily. Pirate-speak.

NEWS: Panda Express Golden Treasure Shrimp Is Not Considered A Treasure To Those With Shellfish Allergies and Pirates

PANDA EXPRESS

If I were a treasure hunter looking for sunken Spanish galleons and the sweet, sweet gold doubloons they may contain, and I came upon a wreckage filled, not with gold coins, but with Panda Express’ Golden Treasure Shrimp, I’m pretty sure I would be mad enough punch Poseidon in the face.

Panda Express’ latest dish combines crispy tempura shrimp, red and green bell peppers, and their new zesty citrus sauce. According to the press release I read from some site that posts nothing but press releases, Golden Treasure Shrimp received higher reviews than Panda’s Honey Walnut Shrimp during market testing across the country.

The new dish will make its debut on March 2. If you’re into free faux Chinese food, Panda Express will be offering a free single serving of Golden Treasure Shrimp on March 9 via a coupon from their Facebook page.

Image via flickr user inazakira / CC BY SA 2.0

REVIEW: Panda Express Kobari Beef

Panda Express Kobari Beef

In the Korean language, I’m pretty sure kobari is a swear word.

Okay, I’m not 100 percent sure. It could just be a completely made up name Panda Express wordsmithed to give to their new Korean Kobari Beef. I’m not Korean, nor do I have a Korean translator handy to ask, but kobari really does sound more like Korean profanity than a Korean dish. According to the internet, which I trust when diagnosing rashes on my body, the words jiral, shibal, poji, gaeseki, kochu and byungsin are all real Korean obscenities.

Don’t you think kobari would fit nicely in that list?

Actually, I have to admit, if those swear words were on a Korean barbeque menu, they would all sound delicious. I would especially want to put some kochu in my mouth to go with a bibimbap. As for kobari, I still think it sounds like a swear word.

And if it’s not, I think we should all start using it like one. But I’m not sure what it should mean because after doing Korean profanity research, they appear to have words for all the common swear words that English speakers have. So it’s going to have to be an uncommon English swear word.

Personally, I think it should mean taint licker, i.e. a level above brown nosing.

For example: Man, Bob wants that raise so badly that he’s being a total kobari!

Well, until kobari is added to Urban Dictionary, I guess for now it will be the name of Panda Express’ Kobari Beef, which is made up of thin slices of marinated beef with wok-seared bell peppers, mushrooms, onions and leeks and tossed with a sweet, smoky and spicy Kobari sauce.

While the previous sentence makes Kobari Beef sound delicious, I have to say that it’s quite possibly the most boring and blandish non-starch item I’ve ever eaten at Panda Express. I don’t have a beef with most of the ingredients, but I think the Kobari sauce is the cause of this dish’s lack of flavor. While it’s sweet, smoky and spicy, it’s also not a very strong sauce. It’s what makes Kobari Beef The English Patient of Panda Express dishes, and I’m surprised I didn’t fall asleep while eating it.

When I heard Panda Express was doing a Korean dish, it seems a bit odd to me because if you ask some people, they’ll say Panda Express doesn’t even do Chinese very well. But I’m a Panda Express fan and there is a very short list of their dishes that I won’t eat, most of which include shrimp, which I am allergic to. However, that list got a little longer because of Kobari Beef.

While I may not enjoy it, others probably will and if Kobari Beef becomes successful, it could encourage Panda Express to create menu items from other Asian cuisines and give them names that sound like profanity from their respective languages.

(Nutrition Facts – 5.3 ounces – 210 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 840 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar and 15 grams of protein.)

Item: Panda Express Kobari Beef
Price: $6.50 (2 choice plate)
Size: 5.3 ounces
Purchased at: Panda Express
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Uses leeks. Wide variety of vegetables used. Other Panda Express choices. Decent calorie count. Good source of protein. Knowing how to swear in other languages. Putting some kochu in my mouth.
Cons: The English Patient of Panda Express dishes. Boring and bland. Weak sauce. Not having a Korean translator handy. Awesome source of sodium. Kobari sounds like a Korean swear word.