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Taste Buds: Panda Chinese Kitchen

August 24, 2012

Well, nobody's perfect. Not even the Buds.

You see, after all these years of sampling the Valley's cuisine, it turns out that we missed one. Yup, we were surprised too.

It all began when Bud Em took a much needed vacation. So in Bud Em's absence, Bud Shaunna anticipated a busy week ahead. One evening, she realized that she had to come up with a food solution for herself and her on-the-go Bud Hubby, who is travelling for work all week. A favorite, go-to dinner for the Buds Hershberger has always been Panda Chinese Kitchen, so you could imagine Bud Shaunna's surprise when she realized that the Buds never reviewed this staple establishment.

Located along busy Market Street in downtown Wheeling, Panda Chinese Kitchen has been open since 1991. The restaurant is carry-out only, but it also offers delivery on orders over $10.

The lunch menu features 32 special dishes, available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. And that's just the lunch menu! The regular menu has pretty much everything you'd ever want to order in a Chinese restaurant, including appetizers, soups, special combination plates, special Cantonese dishes, and even dishes grouped by sauce (The special golden sauce features nearly 30 options!). Dishes are also listed by meat preference, so if you're specifically looking for seafood, poultry, beef, or vegetarian dishes, Panda makes it easy for you to locate your choices, which is pretty impressive on such a large menu.

Scanning the menu and making a decision on what to order was tough. Bud Shaunna and Bud Hubby have many favorites, including chicken with garlic sauce, lo mein, curry chicken and General Tso's chicken, just to name a few. What to do?

Bud Shaunna made her executive decision and ordered the moo goo gai pan. This dish was loaded with sliced chicken and vegetables including snow peas, water chestnuts and those little bitty corncobs. Instead of a traditional brown soy-based sauce, moo goo gai pan has a light, chicken broth-based sauce. The chicken was tender and the sauce had a great flavor, not too sweet or too salty. The combination plate came with a crispy vegetable eggroll, which Bud Shaunna smothered in duck sauce and made short work of, and steamed rice for $6.60.

Bud Hubby ordered the orange flavor chicken, which was noted on the menu to be a hot and spicy dish. Small, tender chicken bites were fried and then coated with a sweet, orange flavored glaze. Bud Hubby mixed some of his fried rice in with the yummy sauce to enjoy it to the fullest. With a vegetable eggroll on the side for an extra buck, Bud Hubby's large dinner ring in at $9.50.

Perhaps the best part of Chinese food as we know it is the leftovers. Good Chinese food can evaluated by its ability to be reheated but still maintain its original flavor. And Panda definitely does well in this department, as not only do you get plenty of food for the money, but it also tastes just as good the next day!

And the second best part about Chinese food??The fortune cookies! Bud Shaunna won't reveal her fortune, lest it does not come true, but apparently some riches may be in her future. She hopes that one holds true! Bud Hubby's fortune was a bit more intuitive, suggesting something about paying attention to the finer details. Clearly, Bud Shaunna won the fortune derby!

Any business that can keep its doors open for more than 20 years obviously knows what customers want. The Buds might have accidentally overlooked Panda Chinese Kitchen, but we are fairly certain not too many others did. While the Buds can't put it inside a cookie, we have a fortune for Panda: "Many good days lie ahead."

The Taste Buds can be reached at



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