Panda House is a long-standing, family-owned Chinese restaurant that has been in operation since at least 2006, judging from the plaques on the wall of the waiting area at the front of the restaurant. It’s hard to miss the tall sign with the bamboo-eating panda in front of the restaurant at the corner of Highway 88 and Martell Road.
My mother and I eat at Panda House every two or three months because they give you a lot of good food at a reasonable price. In the past, we’ve usually eaten at the restaurant. This time, we decided to take advantage of Panda House’s takeout service by ordering directly from their website. Like Thai Siam, Panda House uses the Beyond Menu website to take and process orders.
On July 22, I placed an order on the website for Family Dinner A, which is one of their four family dinner specials, at $11.25 per person. Each person gets one egg roll and fried wonton with wonton sauce, the soup of the day or hot and sour soup, pork fried rice or steamed rice, and a choice of one entrée for each person.
My order was for hot and sour soup, steamed rice, broccoli beef, and vegetable chow mein. I also included a text message that said I would pick up the order between 6:15 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. When I arrived, there were several people sitting outside on stone tables and eating their dinners under a canopy outside the front of the restaurant.
I went inside and waited six feet behind one person at the front counter. I had the Beyond Menu site send me a text message with my receipt, so when it was time for me to talk with one of the family members, I showed the message to her. She already had the order on a nearby table waiting for me, and she was happy and conversational as she took my payment. I was on my way in a couple of minutes.
Our meals were packed in several Styrofoam containers within one plastic bag. We also received a lidded plastic cup with wonton sauce, two packets of soy sauce, and two fortune cookies in plastic wrappers.
So, the food stayed hot all the way home, as we discovered when we bit into the eggrolls. We usually don’t get hot and sour soup at the restaurant, but I ordered it this time and it was as advertised. The wontons were crispy and light, and the wonton sauce wasn’t overly sweet, so the sauce made for a great topping on the steamed rice.
We hadn’t had broccoli beef in a long while, and I found that only one of the fried, thin strips of flavorful beef was a bit chewy. The broccoli was cooked just enough so it was crispy without being hard to eat.
The Panda House chefs have their chow mein preparation down to a science, where the noodles are light and the vegetables were crunchy but not hard.
The fortune cookies that are made in bulk by Kari-Out in Tarrytown, New York are only slightly sweet and a bit hard to chew. One side of the strip of paper inside the cookie has a Chinese word to remember (mine was cucumber) as well as six “lucky numbers” to try in the state lottery. The fortune is on the other side, and mine said, “there will be many surprises: unexpected gains are likely.” We’ll see if that happens—and if so, what kind of gains they are. Having two small cookies for dessert wasn’t enough, so we had a couple of donuts from Safeway, too.
We had enough food for two full meals, so we enjoyed our leftovers for dinner the next night. The broccoli beef, chow mein, steamed rice, and wonton sauce were just as good. We’ll be back again for dine-in or take-out.
Green light from both of us.
Want to Try Them?
Panda House is open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays. They’re closed on Tuesdays. You can eat outside on the patio or order take-out either from their website or by calling them at 209-223-3474.
Amador Business Ticker food reviews are adventures in local dining with Editor Eric Butow and his mom.