The newest addition to the Grace Street food line-up is Panda Express. With lines bursting out of the door for weeks after opening, and in freezing temperatures it’s not hard to see the popularity of this newest VCU dining facility. However, with three other chinese restaurants on Grace street we need to ask how Panda stand up in comparison?
One of the first questions that comes to mind when thinking of where to eat is price. Panda Express attracts a lot of students due to it’s swapability, letting them eat Chinese without spending any out of pocket money.
However if you were going in with cash getting a entree and single side, the equivalent of one swipe, is a little over $6. For $7 you can get two entrees and for $9 you get three meats. The portions of meat aren’t very big, but they do stack you up on the rice if you get the small box container. I would argue you’d get a better deal at one of the local Chinese places.
A lunch serving at Panda garden for example only costs $5.49, which is already cheaper than the single entree option at panda express. With your meal you get a choice of entree, vegetable fried rice and a vegetable roll. When you look at getting more food for less money, it’s not hard to consider which restaurant I’d rather eat at.
Goodtaste also has a better lunch deal. For $5.25 you can get one entree with pork fried rice and your choice of either a free soda or egg roll.
Both Goodtaste and Panda Garden’s Dinner deal is about $7, over the price of a single serving at panda, but you also get an egg roll and a larger serving of meat than the lunch special.
Variety wise the local places take the cup again. Panda has 14 options for entrees, most of which are swipeable, and a few other appetizers. Panda Garden has 28 options on their lunch special alone, and Goodtaste has 20. Both restaurants have many more entrees, appetizers and soups. Panda garden also has dessert items which Panda Express lacks.
Owner of Panda Garden Tony Han said that Panda Garden is also the only Chinese restaurant in Richmond that specializes in vegetarian items.
While both local and fast food chinese aren’t the most nutritious of options, local cookings styles for their food could be considered more appealing. Goodtaste and Panda Garden make their food to order whereas Panda Express has a buffet style of serving that may leave out their food under a heat lamp for a while.
So while Panda Express may be a good swipe, when it comes to eating Chinese it’s best to stay local.