Seven Keys to Having the Best Dining Experience Possible at Panda Express

I’m going to give you the lowdown on how to order from your favorite white-washed Asian-themed food chain.

I know with my past experiences, I’m the last person who should be encouraging people to eat at Panda Express. But if you’ve been reading this blog lately, then you know I’ve moved well beyond making sense.

ANOTHER goddamned fast food post? F**king seriously?

After many trips, I’ve assembled this list of the Seven Keys to Having the Best Dining Experience Possible at Panda Express:

  1. Make sure Debi is working. She’ll LOAD up your plate with food. Seriously, my container weighed 5 pounds after she filled my order. If you walk in and she’s not there, keep walking. Get a spicy gyro from Max’s across the street. It might give you the shits, but they won’t be stomach-flu bad.
  2. Order from the bowls in the bottom row. Debi has short arms. She’s really short, like 4’9″ or something. And when she reaches out to get to the bowls that are furthest from her (and closest to the customers) then her armpit ends up in the bowls in the top row.  Debi is awesome and all, but I don’t want to taste her pits. Pick from the bottom row. Whatever they put in those bowls are safe. I get the Honey Walnut Shrimp and the Orange Chicken (of course).
  3. Orange Chicken should go with every order. It’s a given that you’re going to choose it, so why not just put in every order automatically? Like getting the R, S, T, N, L, and E on Wheel of Fortune. Pat Sajak knew you were going to pick those letters so he was like “Oh yeah, Smartguy? Here are the letters you were totally going to take. We’ve already factored that shit into the puzzle, Big Shot! What now? Yeah. Didn’t think so.”
  4. My mom LOVES Wheel of Fortune. In addition to suffering from RBF, my mom will lip sync the words you’re trying to speak to her–as in a conversation. Say you want to ask her what’s wrong because she looks miserable. After she tells you that she’s fine in the angriest way possible, she’ll begin moving her lips in time to whatever you’re going to say next. As you say it. Even though she has no idea what you’re going to say. So it looks like a super shitty foreign language dub. It’s distracting as hell. You sit there and think “Am I really that predicable, that she knows exactly what I’m going to say before I speak?” Then you realize that she doesn’t and you end up reminiscing about kung fu movies.
  5. I LOVE kung fu movies. I used to watch Samurai Sunday every Sunday on channel 66. I had nothing else to do. No one liked me. I don’t think there was a Panda Express back then.
  6. Panda Express should revive Samurai Sunday! They could sponsor it and make a whole show out of it. They can be to Kung Fu movies what Son of Svengoolie was to creature features. They could call it The Sunday Kung Fu Express or The Panda Power Hour or Kung Fu Panda.

Anyway, hope this list helps you out the next time you climb aboard the Panda Express. Good luck not puking. But it happens.


  1. Lol!
    Bottom row. Noted. Also, I love when I get a surprise link to another post like the RBF post! Good stuff.

    • jeffandjill

      10/15/2015 at 1:51 pm

      I never know if those are things people want to read, but if I worried about that then this site would have only 5 posts instead of 100 and something.

  2. You should look into being a food critic. If you wrote for the Chicago Reader I’d definitely get an online subscription.

    • jeffandjill

      10/15/2015 at 2:25 pm

      That’s a good suggestion. I have a few thoughts about Taco Fresco and Max’s the world needs to hear.

  3. I would like Panda Express better if they figured out how to make real fried rice and lo mein – especially since they give you enough to feed a small village with every order. Also, have you noticed how they happily plop spoonfuls of Orange Chicken and Beef and Broccoli into the Styrofoam to-go container – but when you ask for the Honey Walnut shrimp, they carefully count them out? Apparently, you can’t have more than eight. If Debi gives you more, she is just hitting on you.

    • jeffandjill

      10/18/2015 at 9:37 am

      I’m amazed they haven’t fired Debi yet. I saw the cashier scowl at her over the weight of my package. That sounded worse than it was.

  4. Not in a million years would I eat food court chinese. God only know what the hell they have in there. The pizza seems much safer.

  5. I worked with a woman who would do the lip-sync thing. Except it was audible mumbo jumbo. She was trying to predict every word out of your mouth so she could somehow claim ownership of them. It was the weirdest arrogance ever. I’d be like:
    “Yeah when I was five–”
    “Yeah five years old, I was on my way to the b”
    “with my”

    I’m always in the market for doing as little work as possible though, so it was nice to have someone else share my personal anecdotes.

    • jeffandjill

      10/20/2015 at 9:51 am

      Ever get curious to see how she remembered your memories? Like, just hand them over and see where she took them. Maybe she’d give them a twist ending.

  6. I love your Panda Express saga! It’s like you are stuck in some secret circle of culinary hell. I guess it’s a bit cruel to stare like this while you try to find your way out of it, but how entertaining!

    • jeffandjill

      10/30/2015 at 9:39 pm

      Someone tweeted an article about how Panda Express employees struggle to keep the food hot enough to pass health code standards. I may have been cured of my addiction.

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