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.

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.

REVIEW: Panda Express SweetFire Chicken Breast

I sometimes wonder if Panda Express would exist if it didn’t have its Orange Chicken. Despite it being one of the unhealthiest items to come out of their gigantic woks, there’s something about the lightly battered chicken that radiates a hot coal-like orange glow that makes people yearn for it, like a baby yearns for a nipple. I’m not sure what draws taste buds to it, but perhaps it is its sweet sauce; or it lacks the nuisance of vegetable or fruit chunks; or because it’s the least Asian sounding dish.

If their Orange Chicken just happens to disappear from their menu or the serving tray is currently empty and you don’t want to wait a few minutes for the wok handlers to whip up another batch of the non-authentic Chinese dish, the new Thai-inspired Panda Express SweetFire Chicken Breast makes a great replacement.

The SweetFire Chicken Breast is made up of crispy, white meat chicken with red bell peppers, sliced onions, and pineapple chunks tossed with a sweet chili sauce. Panda Express says their new dish is “an exotic fusion of flavors.” But I say it’s “an obvious fusion of a few of their existing dishes.” The breaded white meat chicken is like their Orange Chicken, red bell peppers and onions are found in their Beijing Beef, and pineapple chunks are also in their Sweet Sour Pork.

It’s like they used the Taco Bell Technique, which involves taking their existing ingredients, placing them around an empty bottle, spinning the bottle to pick ingredients, selecting enough ingredients to have a regulation orgy, putting all of those ingredients in a room and letting nature take its course.

The Sweet Fire Chicken Breast’s sweet chili sauce is quite tasty, although I wish its flavor was a bit more punchy. The sauce has red pepper flakes in it, but don’t let them fool you because they don’t make the sauce very spicy. I felt a very light burn, but I wish it was a bit spicier. I also thought the sauce’s sweetness could be kicked up a little.

The chicken was tender and crispy. The onions and bell peppers gave the dish some crunch, along with a little flavor. As for the pineapples, I always find it odd when they’re added to a heated dish, like a “Hawaiian” Pizza or Panda Express’ Sweet Sour Pork, because I think it’s weird to eat hot fruit. But the pineapples in this dish helped make up for the sauce’s lack of sweetness.

If the Pandapocalypse happens and Orange Chicken is taken away, don’t fret my fake Chinese food loving friends, because the tasty Panda Express SweetFire Chicken Breast will satisfy your hunger for a sweet crispy chicken dish that’s just as unhealthy as Orange Chicken.

(Nutritional Facts – 5.8 ounces – 440 calories, 18 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 370 milligrams of sodium, 53 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 27 grams of sugar and 17 grams of protein.)

Item: Panda Express SweetFire Chicken Breast
Price: $6.50 (2 choice plate)
Size: 5.8 ounces
Purchased at: Panda Express
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Tasty sweet chili sauce. Contains vegetables, which give the dish a crunch. Makes a nice replacement for Orange Chicken.
Cons: I wish the sweet chili sauce was a bit spicier. Pineapples seem weird in the dish. The Pandapocalypse. Just as unhealthy as Orange Chicken. An obvious fusion of a few of their existing dishes. The Taco Bell Technique for creating new dishes.

Panda Express Beijing Beef

If you’re not of the Asian persuasion, you might have a hard time determining the differences between all of us Asians. There’s Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai, Filipino and the list goes on. If you have a hard time with the various Asian ethnicities and just lump us all together, don’t feel bad because we Asians can’t determine what specific ethnicity you are either. But if there’s one thing that you can determine much more accurately, it is the authentic cuisine from each culture.

Sushi and ramen are authentic Japanese dishes. Pansit and bagoong are real Filipino recipes. Kimchi and bibimbap are genuine Korean courses. However, Panda Express’ Mongolian Beef and their new Beijing Beef are fucking made up.

The Beijing Beef, which is made up of crispy strips of marinated beef, with bell peppers and onions in a tangy sweet and spicy sauce, is as authentic as the boobs on Daisy from Rock of Love 2 or the love any of the women on Flavor of Love have for the imp-ish Flavor Flav.

I know it feels like I just punched through your chest and ripped out your heart, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom-style, but I have to tell you that Panda Express isn’t real Chinese food. Heck, while I’m stabbing you in the heart with chopsticks, I also have to tell you that P.F. Chang’s is also not authentic Chinese food. Also, Miley Cyrus is Hannah Montana.

Despite not being an authentic Chinese dish, I have to say that I really enjoyed the Panda Express Beijing Beef. Crispy beef sounds weird, but it was not crispy like fried chicken, instead its coating had a slight crunch. The meat inside the coating was also tender and the bell peppers and onions were nice and crisp.

If you like the Sweet & Sour Pork from Panda Express, you’ll like the Beijing Beef because they pretty much taste the same. They even look the same since both dishes have bell peppers and onions. The sauce was supposed to be spicy, but it seemed as mild as the Sweet & Sour Pork sauce, which disappointed me because I love the mui caliente.

If you’re disappointed to find out that Panda Express isn’t authentic Chinese food, take solace in the fact some genuine Asian dishes can either kill you, make you consume an embryo, or get you to eat something that most people consider a pet.

(Nutrition Facts – 5 ounces – 420 calories, 25 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 730 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbs, 1 grams of dietary fiber, 15 grams of sugar, 14 grams of protein, and 0 grams of Chinese authenticity.)

Item: Panda Express Beijing Beef
Price: $6.50 (2 choice plate)
Purchased at: Panda Express
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Oishii desu yo! (It’s tasty!) If you like Panda Express’ Sweet & Sour Pork, you’re going to like this. Vegetables were crisp. Sushi. Rock of Love 2 The Flight of the Conchords album.
Cons: Not really spicy. Crispy beef seems kind of weird. Not authentic Chinese food. Eating pets, chicken embryos, or things that can kill you. Not being able to determine different ethnicities. Having to make out with Flavor Flav.