You will be pleasantly surprised by the unique atmosphere of Panda Harlem, a restaurant of the notable Dream Hospitality Group. The prices are super reasonable, the space is ultra chic and the portions are generous. Did I fail to mention that cocktails are in the $9 to $14 price point for the most part? You will get your money’s worth here. You’ll love the deejay, wait staff, the hookahs (that are also reasonably priced) and the multiples of giant screens to watch your favorite sports on. I also love that it is in a secluded neighborhood by Columbia University—they are on the SW corner of 133rd to be exact (I don’t have to tell you that this is a super up and coming neighborhood with a lot of new condos coming). What really touched my heart was the fact that this is an old factory space on a ground floor that has tactful flower arrangements and funky, very artistic graffiti in unique spaces like at the bottom of the bar and by the steps at the entrance.
One app that is really special here (and as you can see is in a very generous portion size) are the spring rolls. They are full of shrimp and veggies and cooked to a perfectly golden color. You can will probably want to eat all of these but you will get too full for the colorful entrees that await you! Best of all, they are priced well—they are mostly at the $17 to $23 range!
The chicken satay is something in a league of its own and it’s thick golden sauce has a touch of honey that makes it sweet but not too sweet. It’s buttery more than anything else. I bet if no one was looking, everyone would be licking this sauce off their plates! The chicken is so, so juicy. Never come to Panda Chicken and not expect to see this on every occupied table!
The veggies used at Panda Harlem are farm to table so they are fresh, crispy and colorful. You can see a lot of them used in the amazing chicken fried rice! This is a simple dish made with soy sauce and peanut oil and it’s pretty healthy. It goes without saying that this dish is a real crowd pleaser! I hope to try the pork fried rice next time just to compare flavor profiles. This is another dish you can easily fill up on, so definitely monitor yourself.
The General Tsao’s chicken is another winner as it features a classic sweet brown sauce and large pecans toasted with sesame seeds. The chunked white meat chicken used is “the bomb” as they say. This is real stick-to-your-ribs Chinese food!
What’s my personal favorite? Well, I’m a sucker for any classic Chinese dish featuring noodles and a great variety of farm fresh Chinese veggies. The Vegetable Lo Mein meets all my needs. You won’t get this much bok choy in any Chinese resto anywhere! The noodles are tender and in a perfectly light brown sauce!
For seafood lovers, this remarkably creamy rock shrimp tempura is a “must have”! I have never seen sauce on tempura before but this is a dish that really work! You can see tons of these plates coming out of the kitchen at any given time. The secret ingredients are a little yogurt and curry. This dish definitely has an Indian vibe and is super raves about by everyone who orders it!
The dimly lit, romantic ambiance is perfect for date night but if you’re just with the gang and want to hang out and watch the big games, you can order the same great food at the bar. For more info, go to pandaharlem.com. I plan to go back for the $65 brunch special next! Hope to see you there.