Fiona and I comparing desserts!
OK, so anyone who thinks my restaurant section should reflect only the finest of fine dining, only those eateries worthy of a Michelin Star or three, well, those folks will be bitterly disappointed with my listing of Panda Chinese Cuisine Glasgow as one of my top places to eat in Glasgow.
See, this place nestles instead more snugly within Man v Food territory (if you've never seen that show on TV, you've missed out!), and while I'm oh so well aware that I'll be bombarded with threatening emails, poison pen letters and maybe even a few horses' heads in the mail for even thinking about mentioning a Chinese buffet restaurant in my Top Ten, before you start compiling just take a deep breath, innnnnnn...ouuuuut, that's it, and think with your stomach just for a second.
Here's the thing. There's way more than one place in the City presenting varients of Oriental cuisine with greater authenticity and in a high-falootin' setting. However, I'm not comparing Panda Restaurant Glasgow with those places. Instead, I'm listing it in my top places to eat purely because, cue the gasps of horror, I'm a huge fan of the Chinese buffet.
Sheesh, have you ever read a review so defensive from the outset?!!
You'll see loads of China Buffet King restaurants sprinkled thoughout Glasgow, but from my point of view (and each to their own etc.), eating there's always been a bit like getting served school dinner at the canteen, like you're ushered in for your slop and ushered straight back out again once you're done. Panda Chinese Cuisine Glasgow on the other hand sets itself apart by not only vamping up the food quality & variety, but also by welcoming you into a more opulent restaurant setting, nicely set-out tables, outside terraces offering delightful views of the River Clyde & the City beyond, friendly staff who'll keep whipping away your empty plates and tending to your requests all day long.
The Panda Enclosure
It's a more relaxed experience at Panda Restaurant Glasgow than in the other buffets on offer here. For example, when Tracey & I went there recently with Caroline and Fiona, we got there before 7pm and weren't out until after 10pm. OK, so that might have had something to do with just how much we managed to consume that evening, but we were able to sit there for hours eating at our own pace, enjoying the yap, and didn't feel pressured at all to quit trying to put the place out of business by not leaving until breakfast the next morning!
That said, I do like their notices on the menu confirming (unfortunately) that you can't get a table in the morning and just sit there abusing the all you can eat concept like a starving maniac through lunch and dinner until closing time - no doubt that's as a result of some cheeky lad having attempted to do just that back in the day!
Unsurprisingly, this place features in my Wee Glesca guide to the City, which you can download or pick up today.
So there it is. For me, having a good meal at a restaurant's never solely been about pleasing the palate (although that's not a worry for me here). In a table of life set mainly for three-course dinners, sometimes I just like to shake things up, eat as much as I like, in whatever order I like, and in my opinion, the number one choice for me to do so in this neck of the woods continues to be the excellent Panda Restaurant Glasgow.
Chopsticks at the ready!...
The best Chinese buffet
Don't worry, they don't actually include pandas on the menu!
You've got the option here of dining à la carte(seems strange to have French in a Chinese restaurant, but hey, who's caring?) or the all-you-can-eat-buffet. Personal favourites from the first menu in Panda Restaurant Glasgow include the mixed sea food tom yum soup, thesteam fresh scallop in black bean sauce, the superb peking style roast duck in hoi sin sauce, and one that I always find majorly difficult to resist, the fried spicy singapore rice noodles. Other than witnessing the monumental size & regional variation of the portions you'll be handed from this menu, another thing you'll want to turn an eye to is the snazzy teppanyaki grill at the corner of the restaurant - if you're prepared to wait a bit longer for your meal, at the grill you'll have the pleasure of watching the chef sizzle fresh meat, veg and fish dishes deftly right in front of you, injecting even more quality into your experience at the Panda Restaurant Glasgow.
However, the main reason I think most folks descend on this place is the buffet, andOMG what a buffet it is!
To give you an impression of what it's like if you've never had a Chinese buffet before, here's how I approached my most recent adventure into the Panda Restaurant Glasgow. Last time I went I started by picking up one of the wee bowls filled with fine noodles and plonking in some delicious chicken soup before returning to my table armed with the soup and a huge bowl of prawn crackers. I ate all that. Once the soup was done, over I went to the buffet and chose a selection of vegetable balls, prawn on toast, sumptuous fried mushrooms, spare ribs, crispy wan ton, many oh many shimmering shreds of crispy aromatic duck, and some classic vegetable spring rolls to top it off. I ate all that as well. Then my next plate became laden with satay chicken skewers. Yes, you guessed it, I ate all that. And then I had a break.
And this is where the more relaxed set-up was much appreciated. We sat there having a chat for quite some time, had our empty plates whisked away for us, and had plenty of time to let the stomachs settle before continuing onwards on our gut-busting expedition.
For the mains I had some of the usuals - chow mein, singapore street noodles, and some beef in black bean sauce, but also opted for a little bit of the chicken foo yungwhich went down very nicely.
Panda Chinese Takeaway
Finally for dessert though, well, I couldn't resist it. It brought me back to birthday parties as a kid. It made me grin from ear to ear like a ten year-old. Yes, I'm happy to admit it - I had some jelly and ice cream - a dessert far too many restaurants these days consider too low-brow to place on the adult menu. I mean what's that about?!! You might be as ecstatic as I was to learn that Panda Restaurant Glasgow has...wait for it...a Mr. Whippy Machine. That's right, I wasn't kidding. You don't have to ask if that's really what I said. A Mr. Whippy Machine, the one you might remember going up to a van for when you were younger, the one you got a 99-er from with a bit of flake chocolate sticking out. The one your parents put to good use to shut your trap when you were giving them hassle all day in the sticky hot Summer.The one. And hey what's that you said? You can operate it yourself?!!
Eh? I mean come on, a Mr. Whippy Machine! Is anyone with me here?
Basically, once you scrape yourself off the ceiling if, like me, you get excited to the point of internal combustion at such things, you can fill your bowl until your childlike heart's content with this utterly fantastic ice cream from your youth, before adding as much jelly, sprinkled toppings and raspberry or chocolate sauce as you like. And then you can eat all that. Right there and then. A bowl and a half of eternal magic, and yeah that's right, you can go back up for more! I'll tell you this, I promise that if you've got any remnants of childhood left in you, if you yearn as I do to be as curious & happy as the old you, you'll be skipping your way back to your table in sheer delight!
Of course, if you're less Peter Pan and more Captain Hook with your preference for desserts (boooo!), there's also the usual banana or pineapple fritters, an excellentchocolate cake or a fine selection of fresh fruit to snap up instead.
So yeah, I know it's pretty basic, but that's the idea, and to me, that's also the ideal. Sometimes it benefits the soul to be a little less complicated about your food, and at Panda Restaurant Glasgow, you can indulge your basic instincts for a while and simply enjoy the pure thrill of trying everything on the menu!
Also worth noting is the takeaway menu which will come in very handy if you're in a City Cente hotel, on a budget, and just fancy a quick Chinese before heading out, and if you're in a rush during the day you have the option of paying a very small price, picking up a handy container, and filling it up with as much of the buffet as you can handle to take away with you. How convenient is that?
All in all, I'm chuffed to bits that Panda Restaurant Glasgow has perfected the art of the Chinese buffet, and I for one can't wait to return.
The worst photo of River Clyde
As you might have guessed from my professional photograph here of the surroundings (err...), Panda Restaurant Glasgow is located on the opposite side of the City Centre over the River Clyde. You'll find it in the corner of the Springfield Quay Glasgow, which is on Paisley Road West (a quick taxi ride over the water), and is billed as one of the City's leading entertainment destinations.
At the Quay you'll find an Odeon multiplex cinema, AMF ten-pin bowling complex, MECCA Bingo Hall, and the state-of-the-art Alea Casino, as well as the many restaurants, bars and shopping outlets you can wander around for days on end.
It's a great place to take the kids to, although at the weekends you might want to watch out for the large groups of stag and hen do's that usually descend there to start their night (although don't get me wrong - the entire area is very well-lit and secure, so you should have no worries about safety).
If you're looking for a table at Panda Restaurant Glasgow, unless it's the weekend you can usually just turn up and it won't take long to get seated, but just in case you might want to phone in advance, and it's the same number if you're looking to sort out a takeaway.
So I hope you give Panda Restaurant Glasgow a whirl, and feel free to let me know if it's all I've hyped it up to be!