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“Great food if you are a panda- i.e. you like to eat dry bamboo shoots”

Panda Garden Restaurant
Ranked #326 of 430 Restaurants in Kingston
Price range: $10 - $15
Cuisines: Chinese, Japanese, Canadian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Delivery, Reservations
Neighborhood: Hillendale
Kingston, Canada
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Great food if you are a panda- i.e. you like to eat dry bamboo shoots”
Reviewed November 12, 2012

Everything about this place is horrible. From waiters who are more interested in their tips than their jobs. Rude waitresses. Food that feels, smells and tastes like dish rags. By the time I finished eating I was 2 seconds from literally throwing up, no exaggeration. Their food is not even fit for panda bears or pigs!!!

  • Visited October 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank Tom B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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124 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
Kingston, Canada
Level 6 Contributor
86 reviews
42 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 73 helpful votes
“Better than most in town.”
Reviewed September 6, 2012

Kingston has had a really bad go with chinese food buffets throughout my lifetime.
Money laundering, food recycling, poor service, poor quality food, we've had them go under for lots of awful reasons.

Panda Garden isn't an example of finely cooked oriental cuisine, but it is relatively fresh if you go at the right times and has a decent selection. Some say the food is poor quality, but I don't find it that bad and I know lots of people that enjoy it as well. If you expect 'fine food', go to a restaurant and not a buffet dummy! lol Buffets are about quantity, not quality. If you want to see REAL poor quality chinese food, go to a Panda Garden fast food outlet in the US! It's a franchise chain and ours here in Kingston beats the living heck out of some of the Panda Gardens I saw in the states this year.

I generally prefer going around 12PM, or 3:30-4PM. This way, you catch them when they are still putting out fresh food that hasn't been sitting for hours. If you go at like 2PM, or later in the evening, the food is going to suck. Timing is everything with a buffet!

My favourites are the fried noodles, general tao's, the skewered chicken, mongolian pork, and the black bean potatoes (they may have switched these for 'butter potatoes', if they have the black bean type out, try it!!!!). The ribs on the dinner menu are pretty good, but I tend to like mine spicy. They serve cold crab legs on the dinner menu as well.

The service has gotten a bit better since it opened. It is still difficult to find an employee there that speaks English fluently (not even kidding), but they are much better at topping up your drink and clearing away the dirty dishes than they used to be.

Few negatives:

The staff comes across as subservient. They barely speak; in fact they tend to mumble a bit as though they don't really understand what you are saying. The host/hostess will speak, but I doubt you'll hear much out of your server other than: "More pepsi?" "More?" "Done?" etc.
I saw one lady specifically ask for Ranch Dressing from the kitchen. She explained quite clearly that she is allergic to shellfish and that the dressing at the buffet was right next to oysters and could potentially kill her. The server left, went to the buffet and got her a bowl of dressing from the exact tray the woman had expressly asked her not to get it from. The server literally had no idea what the importance of this request was and it was entirely the fault of a language barrier. The woman politely corrected her and asked for some from the kitchen. After a minute or two of the server being flustered, the woman gave up and told her not to worry about it.

If you show up at certain times, they won't seat you.
The dinner menu begins at like 3 or 3:30PM. If you show up a little early, there will be a sign up asking you to come back later. This is to prevent people from showing up for and paying for lunch, but getting to eat from the dinner menu. There is like a 4 dollar difference in price so it's not unreasonable for them to expect people to pay full price if they want the dinner menu. It's just a bit of a pain if you show up at the wrong time.

The salad bar and desert bar kinda suck.
Much of the salad bar is obviously not fresh. I tend to avoid it.
The desert bar is just ice cream and tray cakes bought from Brown's Fine Foods or some similar company. The cake is actually pretty decent if it's fresh. The ice cream selection is good and I've yet to ever scoop any that was freezer burnt.

No more discard plate and a real lack of napkins.
They used to provide a saucer as a discard plate. Just so you have a spot to put the bones and junk as you're eating. They stopped doing this though. Easy solution is to grab an extra plate while you are up at the buffet and put it on your table.
I'm of the mind that a buffet should have a nice, fat stack of napkins on each and every table. Who the heck serves ribs and doesn't provide something to wipe your hands on?
Usually it is not a big deal to ask for more napkins from your server, but I have actually found the language barrier is enough to make me use my sole napkin very sparingly in order to avoid that awkward conversation with the server who clearly has very little idea as to what I am saying. lol

The placement of fish/shell fish is plain stupid.
There is always a tray of some sort of fish in the buffet. It is a very juicy tray of fish, meaning that as people scoop it out of the fish tray it is potentially dripping and contaminating all the other food trays around it. I tend to avoid whatever is next to the fish tray on the hot buffet line for this reason. I hate the taste of fish, especially when I'm eating pork. lol
The shellfish seems to be spread throughout the cold buffet line (salad, etc), in a way that makes it nearly impossible for anyone with a seafood allergy to eat anything from it.
In my opinion, all the fish/shell fish should be in its own area away from all the other food, but I guess that's never going to happen.
If you have fish/shell fish allergies, this may not be a good place to eat.

I know this review seems negative, but I actually enjoy Panda Garden a fair bit. I'm expressing the negatives here in hopes that the managers/owners of Panda Garden in Kingston might read it and act to correct these problems.

  • Visited September 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank JDPKingston
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kingston Ontario
Level 5 Contributor
77 reviews
66 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Another Disappointing Chinese Buffet”
Reviewed August 18, 2012

Kingston has no great Chinese restaurants. It has to do with the choices most locals make. There is more to Chinese cuisine than sweet and sour chicken. After being spoiled on the Mandarin in T.O. this is meh.

Visited January 2012
Thank Saxguy302
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 5 Contributor
77 reviews
33 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
“Good food, and fresh”
Reviewed August 15, 2012

All I can say is it was very good food with lots of options like sushi and oriental cuisine. Avoid fries and onion rings. Great dessert bar with great variety of premium icecream.

Visited August 2012
Thank Melissa B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level 6 Contributor
205 reviews
82 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 113 helpful votes
“Wife had stomach pains after eating here”
Reviewed August 5, 2012

Food was not the best, poor selection, and quality. Nothing like the Mandarin. Most of the staff don't speak English. Restaurant is about 4 kilometers from the hub. No menu for drinks. Would not go again

Visited August 2012
Thank alsupremo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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