Panda Express (JFK) Review: Pandamonium at Panda Express
Airport food probably could be a theme of a food blog. If there’s some consultant out there reading this who wants to start a food blog, there you go. Usually airport food is uninspiring. Usually I’m not too impressed by anything inside of an airport. One exception is in Chicago where one of those airports has a Potbelly Sandwich Works. Mmm… sandwiches. Unfortunately, New York doesn’t get that. This past weekend I was at JFK airport, completely disinterested at the prospect of eating lunch at the airport until I saw… Panda Express. It was a joyous moment because up until then, the only thing I had to eat was ginger ale.
I’ve only had Panda Express when I was little, so my memory of it is foggy. I do know that Zach from Midtown Lunch is a big fan. The other thing that I’ve heard about Panda Express is that the level of cooking is different depending on which one you go to… Not sure how true that is, but I had to check out the Panda Express at JFK Terminal 4.
First thing is first… the two meat plus rice plate with a small coke comes out to $10.10. So if you plopped this thing in the middle of Midtown, it would be an EXPENSIVE lunch. Of the things they had on the steam table, the biggest tray belonged to the Orange Chicken, therefore I felt compelled to try that because it looked like the most popular thing. Also because fried chicken with too much batter is like crack to me. Only later did I learn that, “Panda Restaurant Group has more than 1,000 restaurants in 37 states, and a billion dollars in annual sales. That adds up to 44 million pounds of orange chicken each year.” – ABC News. 44 million pounds can’t be wrong!
The other thing I got was the chicken and string bean. Gotta say, for about 7.50, the food is just ok… My main complaint is that orange chicken is something you can get at any generic American-Chinese take-out shop. Granted, at the generic places, sometimes the sauce is goopy or the batter-to-chicken ratio is waaaaay outta wack. In general though, orange chicken is something that is pretty good at most places since it’s so popular. Panda Express did well by saucing just the right amount, but in the end the chicken was just ordinary. The chicken came alive after I added some of their chili sauce packet.
Overall I would say Panda Express at JFK Terminal 4 is very average. The only other thing there that I kind of wanted to get was a dish called Peking Beef, which sounds completely foreign to me. I would have gotten it if my body wasn’t asking for fiber. Now, even though the experience was completely, average, I think Panda Express could carve a niche for themselves in Midtown. They could vie for the same type of business as a place like Yips and do well just on the name alone. And if they could survive the rent in JFK, they could survive it in Midtown, right? Come on… someone should open a Panda Express in Manhattan!
The last thing I want to get into is this story I saw last week on Grub St.. Apparently there’s a proposal in New York City to get restaurants to give nine days of sick leave to their employees. Now I know the humane thing is to say that I think everyone who works in the restaurant industry should get sick leave… but you know what’s a great way to interview for a job somewhere else? Call in sick. They’re going to have to work out details on how all of that is going to work… I’m interested to see what happens because sick days pretty much is a fixed cost for restaurants/businesses. They have to calculate that into their budget. Now some restaurant is going to figure that you know what, fuck it. I rather have a more automated dish washing machine than to hire a dish washer. Or maybe they rather stop delivery service than to hire a delivery guy. Seriously folks, 46% of the country is willing to vote for a guy based on lower taxes… I’m pretty sure around half of the restaurants are willing to just cut costs instead of swallowing profit margins. I like the idea of sick days, but the system of taking them whenever you want is not going to work.
Panda Express (JFK)Terminal 4 JFK .Queens, NY 11422
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