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Panda Garden

In a word: Sun Prairie take-out Chinese.

The specs: #0638  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Yelp, Insider Pages, Yellow Pages; Panda Garden on Urbanspoon

Latest Panda Garden news and reviews

Brandy ate the #31 chicken fried rice with an egg drop soup.
JM ate the #S3 chicken and pineapple.
Mark ate the #D4 steamed chicken with brown sauce.
Nichole ate the #S13 steak with orange peel and a hot and sour soup.
We split some crab rangoon.
The bill was about $8/person, plus tip.
JM gave Panda Garden a B-; Brandy, Mark and Nichole gave Panda Garden a B (see our grading rubric).

Panda Garden in Sun Prairie is not all that different from any other Chinese take-out place.  They have large paper copies of the menu that you can write on, and they were doing a brisk trade on this snowy January night. Our carryout experience was quite drawn-out (we should have called ahead). But waiting gave us a chance to be transported by the dining room's beautiful gazebo-like construction hiding a drop ceiling, covered in fake vines that gave a pleasant feeling of greenery in the dead of winter.

Once we had taken our food and alighted at a dining table, the food was fairly standard.  Our customary order of crab rangoon came in triangle form. Sadly, not each of the three angles measured the same in terms of filling, but the filling there was was savory, warm and very crabby. 

Hot and sour soupPanda Garden is good at soup. The hot and sour was some of the best ever. It featured silky tofu and a few small ribbons of tender chicken along with julienned carrots, bamboo shoots, fresh mushrooms, egg and enough chili oil and pepper flakes to tingle your lips and make your nose run.

The egg drop soup was fresh and light with crunchies provided for texture. The only thing these soups had going against them was their thickness from too much cornstarch, which we've found usually dissipates after a spin in the microwave.

The rest of the dishes were pretty much right down the line. The chicken in all was well-prepared but not particularly memorable. Mark remarked that chicken and staemed rice has been better on his previous visits, "otherwise I'd give it an A." The chicken fried rice was dayglo yellow. (A lot of the dishes at Panda Garden seemed to stick together in a somewhat unnatural way.)

Orange beef, pineapple chicken, rangoonThis is not the place to get extra veggies in your dishes (feature or bug? you decide) - the veg:meat ratio was about 1:5. The orange in the steak with orange peel, aka spicy orange beef, was fresh, but cut instead of zested off, which led to some bites having all orange and some none.

Panda Garden gives you a can of soda with every dinner and out in Sun Prairie, where it competes primarily with a Chang Jiang for the take-out Chinese dollar, it certainly seems like a decent offering. But on its own merits, we can't picture driving past all of the restaurants we did for food like this.

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