But if you, like me, think that taste is all that matters, I promise you will find many things at Panda Inn that taste very good (though nothing that is the best of its kind in town; probably nothing that cracks a top ten list.)
For those of you who live elsewhere and have not heard of Panda Inn, it is the Chinese restaurant, opened in Pasadena in 1973, from which sprang Panda Express, the fast-casual joint with 1300+ locations in shopping malls, airports, and baseball stadiums across the country.
Recently I started a review of the worst Chinese restaurant I have ever been to with an anecdote of a meal on the Central Coast a dozen years ago with my cousins. Those cousins were in town over the weekend and, as happens every year or two, they wanted to take us all out for a huge meal at Panda Inn.
A side note: I rarely get to see my teenage cousins anymore, so there was no way I was going to miss this dinner. Would you like proof of that? Okay. Here is a photo from the other event I was invited to that evening:
"Oh," she said, "you like those kind of Chinese restaurants! Ed won't go to those with me."
I will close this with the same words I used when I wrote about a dinner at Panda Inn with these exact same people in July of 2010:
"It was a fun meal at Panda Inn, but that had more to do with the company and the family-style eating than anything relating to the quality of the cuisine. It was certainly fun to see my young cousins enjoy the food like my brother and I did when we were that age. If I'm invited to another dinner with them next summer, I will be glad to attend."