By ANGELA M. SE
AS SOON as one enters the restaurant, one of the first things he/she would notice is the roasted chicken that hung right above the dispatching area, and for those who are well-versed with Chinese restaurants, this resembles the display of a roasted Peking duck.
Located just a few blocks away from the P. Noval gate of the University of Santo Tomas, Mr. Panda allows one to indulge him/herself with flavors adjusted to the Filipino taste but not losing the authenticity of Chinese cuisine. Although the restaurant aims to put up a true Chinese front to their customers, it is not “intimidatingly” Chinese as seen in its monochrome interior—veering away from the stereotypical red, or tangerine with gold schemed interiors.
The restaurant boasts itself with a variety of choices with hefty servings. But one of the game changers its owners developed is the option to combine two meals in one that comes with a free drink. Although its neighboring carenderias and establishments offer cheaper deals, Mr. Panda does not lag behind with its generous servings and highly accommodating staff.
Its top three best-sellers are: Garlic chicken with a special gravy; Sweet and sour pork smothered with the restaurant’s homemade sauce; and Pork Asado that is well-seasoned and seared just right to its tips. All these meals are served with a good mound of white rice hefty enough to fill a hungry student after a long and draggy morning, or even just to cap off the entire day at dinner. Completing these rice meals to a full-packed meal with drinks would not cost much.
The owner of Mr. Panda, Florencio Palce, envisioned the restaurant as a “Chinese restaurant for the Filipinos,” by making Chinese food more affordable, accessible, and most importantly, keeping it as authentic as possible.
Mr. Panda is a good restaurant to check out for those who have yet to try authentic Chinese cuisine or even those who simply miss their homemade Chinese food. F