|CHINA PANDA Named Top 100 Takeouts Winner|
at the Top 100 Chinese Restaurants Award Show
Promoting Chinese Cuisine
By Jun Wang
Opened in 2002, China Panda, a 1,500 foot restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas has become the local favorite and is known by foodies as the premier spot for Chinese food in town. Despite being a takeout restaurant, China Panda has differentiated itself from other establishments¡ªthey offer party catering for the customers.
When deciding where to open their restaurant, the owners, Ye and Anna Tian chose a location that would allow them to be a part of the community. The location they chose was centrally located and close to several schools. Not surprisingly, one school chose to invite the Tians to speak at an assembly about Chinese cuisine and culinary traditions, giving students a chance to learn more about Chinese cuisine. Whenever the residents of Overland Park throw a party and need a caterer, they look to China Panda to provide them with great Chinese food and sometimes even ask for the chef to come out himself and prepare food at the party.
The decision has proved wise, and the restaurant has accumulated a large customer base, including some large companies and churches. China Panda¡¯s catering menu features mouthwatering dishes sure to please even the most finicky foodies. If you are in need of large party trays, make sure to order ahead of time.
Serving up Americanized versions of dishes with Hunan, Szechuan and Cantonese origins, China Panda has adapted its menu to local tastes while working to introduce new innovative flavors. The best sellers are General Tso¡¯s Chicken, Sweet & Sour Chicken, Crab Rangoon, Hot & Sour Soup, Mongolian Beef and House Special Beef. These entr¨¦es are popular in many Chinese restaurants, as a lot of people seem to have an insatiable appetite for chicken dishes. ¡°Our selections are similar to those you can order at other restaurants but we do add a little bit extra to each dish,¡± admits Tian.
For the commonplace crab rangoon, Tian approached it with a special cheese which distinguishes the dish from others, and has turned it into a true crowd pleaser, through adjusting the dish to satisfy customers craving a version of Crab Rangoon with a light sweet flavor. Some customers even consider it to be the best Crab Rangoon in the city.
Hot & Sour Soup is another inspiring dish. It is a hearty bowl of bamboo shoots, tofu, pork and white pepper. When mixed together, these ingredients add an extra swirl of taste, which complements this delicious dish. It is a big hit with the restaurant¡¯s many customers who have strong preference for tangy flavors.
Don¡¯t forget to try the House Special Beef. It is one of the more popular dishes among a delectable combination of offerings. So what is special about this highly celebrated dish? The chef has infused great taste into this dish without overwhelming it. First he slices the beef, drenches it with rice wine, egg white and cornstarch, then saut¨¦s the beef slices with butter, black pepper, minced garlic and chopped scallion. Then the dish is seasoned with soy and oyster sauce. The result is a flavorful blend of garlic, butter, and pepper with a light pungent kick, giving it an undeniable allure with a lingering fragrance.
China Panda features steamed and boiled dishes that can be served with white sauce. The adherence to providing healthy food is self-evident. ¡°There is a variety of steamed dishes for the customers. If the customers ask for dishes not on the menu, the chef will accommodate them by preparing it for them if possible,¡± adds Tian.
Mrs. Tian¡¯s observance of her customers¡¯ changing habits, lifestyles, and tastes has resulted in a steady stream of return customers. The kitchen has emerged with a sense of vigor, eagerly promoting the numerous ¡°healthier¡± choices on China Panda¡¯s menu, including Steamed Baby Shrimp and Chicken with Mixed Vegetables.
In addition, to keeping a consistently savory taste, the owner and chef Mr. Tian has a strict set of guidelines for the staff to follow, that covers everything from the timing to the amount of sauce, oil and salt. Therefore, customers can always rest assured that the food is consistent¡ªthe fried rice they are eating this time will have the same delicious flavor next time.
Knowing the Customers
Whenever you come into China Panda, you will see through the open kitchen how the chef prepares your order in a quick manner without skipping any preparation steps. They are like culinary generals on the battlefield, skilled at efficiently planning out meals in the shortest amount of time possible. You¡¯ll be astounded with their precision and how fast they prepare, mix, and match different ingredients. Like clockwork, everything is always prepared then plated in a splendid manner.
Besides their efficiency, a lot of customers are amazed by how the employees really chat with the customers. Having been in the area for more than ten years, the Tians¡¯ have gotten to know the customers and their dining preferences. ¡°When I pick up the phone, I can usually recognize the customers¡¯ voice, and remember their phone number. When I pass the order to the kitchen, the chefs then know what he or she wants to order and can sometimes guess who ordered the dish,¡± explains Mrs. Tian.
When the Tian couple came to the US in 1997, they chose to settle down in Overland Park, Kansas. Back then it wasn¡¯t as crowded as it is now. China Panda has witnessed and been a part of a lot of changes in Overland Park over the past eight years. New buildings have been built, customers have grown up, and the population has increased. China Panda prides itself on engaging the community, which enables them to know their customers better and help better customize dishes to their tastes.
Has their dedication to appetizing food and attentive service paid off? China Panda¡¯s future looks bright as customers have been coming in droves and word has continued to spread.
¡°I like the food and service here. They really have done a lot to differentiate themselves from other restaurants,¡± says one customer.