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“Very Nice Sunday Brunch”
Review of Panda Inn Restaurant - CLOSED

Panda Inn Restaurant
Price range: $0 - $20
Cuisines: Chinese
Dining options: Breakfast, Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Breakfast, Reservations
Reviewed March 27, 2016

We have loved eating at Panda Inn over the years when we're in southern California, and we've have had the Sunday Brunch at the Panda Inn in Pasadena several times , so we decided to try the one here when visiting San Diego. There were several different types of dishes, which were well prepared, and very good. They even had an abalone and bok choy dish, which was not something we'd seen before. It's very difficult to make dishes on a buffet be as good as when they're ordered off of the menu, but Panda Inn does about a good a job of it as we've seen.

Even so, there were a couple of things that weren't what we would have hoped for: the Orange Chicken, which is one of Panda's signature dishes, was a lot of fried batter in relation to the amount of chicken in each piece, which is not what we'd expect from a restaurant of Panda Inn's usual quality. Another thing that was a little disappointing was that there were three salads, a smoked duck and papaya, a Thai beef, and a third one (which I don't remember). The meats and the sauces were all different, and all very good, but they all seemed to be served with the same assortment of mixed greens; some variety there would have been nice to make the three dishes more distinctive.

Also, they seemed to be slow to respond to the rush of people when they first opened, and so for a while, almost all of the warming trays were empty, which created some frustrated customers. Now, to their credit, I think they cook even their buffet dishes in relatively small batches, which is one of the things that keeps the quality so high. Eventually, they caught up, but Panda Inn has been doing this long enough that I would have expected them to be able to do a better job of staying ahead of things.

In summary, we definitely plan on going again when we're in the area, and we wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to others, but there were a few things that were "opportunities for improvement."

Date of visit: March 2016
    • Value
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Thank RichC5501
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviews (90)
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15 - 19 of 90 reviews

Reviewed December 20, 2015 via mobile

Had "cravings" for Chinese food after more than a week of pizza/pasta/ fish n chips. Decent service n tasty food albeit westernized.

Date of visit: December 2015
Thank jiuen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 15, 2015

Our family has been coming to Panda Inn every time we are in San Diego over the last two decades. It's conveniently located at the top level of Horton Plaza in the heart of San Diego. A 10-munite walk from the Convention Center or the Marriot Marquis & Marina. Tastefully decorated with old Chinese artifacts, but managed to stay airy and bright. The food is little Americanized for Chinese but perfect for everyone else. Delicious. Pungent. Good value, $50 stuffs 3 people without alcoholic drink. Garlic shrimp, Eggplant and tofu are two of my all time favorites. Chocolate covered fortune cookies are presented with the bill. Yum! A stroll back to the Seaport Village alleviate all the guilt of overeating. I Guarantee It!

Date of visit: November 2015
    • Value
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Thank XiaLosangeles
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 24, 2015

Panda Inn was one of the first tenants at the Horton Plaza shopping center in downtown San Diego's Gaslamp District. Many others have come and gone, but Panda Inn remains. The reason is consistently reliable quality Chinese cuisine, an extensive menu, professional service and competitive prices. Portions are generous and diners are offered the option of selecting individual or family style servings. Parking is free in the adjacent garage with validation from the restaurant.

Date of visit: October 2015
Thank cedric09
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 9, 2015

This is not Panda Express, although most of you probably already know that. I did not know this. I had never tried the full Panda Inn version. Imagine a day where the mall, Horton Plaza, is virtually empty because it is afternoon on a weekday. Imagine climbing to the upper floor, winding around to the very back corner, finding the Panda logo and a deserted outdoor seating area. No sign of life, and then you walk inside and it is packed. I was only out looking for a quick snack. This place passed my first test for excellence: I was greeted with a smile right away and showed to my table, a wonderful booth at the back of a quiet aisle.

The wait staff here is superb. I mean, I got 5-Diamond service, with waiters in tuxes, beer poured into chilled, fluted glasses, perfect timing between course orders, and a very nice smile and a have a nice day on the way out. I felt as if I had entered another time. This is the kind of dining experience that we all used to have, and wonder where it has gone. I mean, you drift away, pulled back by the realization that you are seated at a candlelit table with a fresh, white cotton tablecloth. My first thought was, "I am paying for this tablecloth." My second thought was, oh yeah, tablecloths... these keep you from sticking your elbows and forearms into the sticky mess that all the other people before you have left behind. Why was mom always huffing and sighing with a napkin to clean the table when we went out? You get what you pay for, mom. Yes, dining out. I remember. And it's only 1 pm. I feel like the Godfather at this point. I secretly let out the top button on my jeans. I'm going for it, I am in the movies.

The food completes the fantasy. Fresh, hot beef and vegetables over rice. Too much, I couldn't finish after having the spring rolls and pot stickers as appetizers. No worries, they promptly offered me a box. The waiter got the full 20% tip, because she did the one thing that makes a waiter's job perfect -- she did nothing to interfere with the absolute enjoyment of my meal. She was there, but she was the phantom of my opera. My big, foodie, self-indulgent opera, and believe me, the fat lady sang.

Date of visit: September 2015
    • Value
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    • Food
2  Thank KMartinGardner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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