Panda Express: China in Saudi Arabia
One of the benefits of globalization is the fact that geographical restrictions become irrelevant. This applies to many aspects of living, especially in food. Because of globalization, citizens of KSA’s capital get to taste flavors from other sides of the world.
Such is the case with Panda Express, the largest Asian food chain in the world with over 1,600 branches. It is located in Riyadh’s Tamimi Market (in Al Olaya). This branch is one of the only four Panda Express locations in the Middle East, with the other three being in Dubai. In the West, Panda Express is one of the best Chinese restaurants around. How does it fare halfway around the world?
Cute Name, Full Flavors, Lots of Options
Don’t let the cute name fool you. Panda Express serves a wide array of authentic Chinese cuisine in its menus. The place offers a casual dining experience, and is ideal for dining with friends or family.
The restaurant is particularly famous for its Orange Chicken — its signature dish developed by Panda Express chef Andy Kao. It is a dish of interesting contrasts in flavor — the mild saltiness of the crispy chicken slathered in a sweet-and-spicy sauce. This dish is said to be inspired by the flavors used in China’s Hunan province, hence bringing the authentic Chinese flavor.
This is the dish Panda Express is known all ‘round for, and its delicious combination is a must-try for anyone — Chinese food lover or not. But it is not by far the only star in the restaurant’s menu.
Customers are allowed to “create” their own meals upon ordering. There is the Panda Bowl, which has one main dish and one side dish. There are two versions of this — the Classic Bowl (which costs SR 25) and the Premium Bowl (which costs SR 35). For those with big appetites (or for those who would just like to try various parts of the menu), there is the Panda Plate with two main dishes and one side dish. The prices are just a little higher, ranging from SR 35 to SR 55.
The menu options range from the classic Chinese items such as the aforementioned Orange Chicken, Kung Pao Chicken, Beijing Beef, Honey Walnut Shrimps, and the like. There are also non-Chinese options such as Thai Cashew Chicken and Grilled Teriyaki Chicken. There’s also fried rice, with crunchy carrot bits mixed in.
For families, there’s also a “Feast” meal that can serve up to five people. These come in prices ranging from SR 114 to SR 144. Children can also have their fill, as a kid’s meal appears in the menu.
A great surprise awaits those who are health conscious or those who are watching calories. Some items in the menu are tagged with the “Wok Smart” logo. These are those that have less than 300 calories, and have 8 grams of protein or more.
If you’re looking to have a good time with the family, eating at Panda Express is an option. The place may not be too big, but the food arrives fresh and fast. It’s not for the fine dining crowd, but if you want full flavors and lots of options (or if you have any taste for Oriental cuisine at all), do yourself a favor and drop by their Riyadh branch. 🙂
Photos Taken by Galaxy Note 3