panda inn / take out with expressly gourmet – san diego, ca

I was approached by a representative from Expressly Gourmet to see if I was interested in trying out their take out services. I received a credit towards the purchase of food to try out their services. Below is my review!

Expressly Gourmet is a unique take-out service. They offer meals from a large variety of restaurants in San Diego, allowing you to get delicious foods delivered directly to your home or office without you stepping foot outside! I first tried to use the service at my house in Mira Mesa, but discovered that this wasn’t going to work. The minimum for delivering to Mira Mesa was $100 for most restaurants (well beyond the credit I was given) and I realized it was more for catering and parties. Mira Mesa is just a bit too far outside one of their normal delivery areas and so I arranged to try out the service at Jake’s house. He lives much closer to the city than I do and there were so many more choices with only a $20 minimum for purchase.

There are delivery areas for other parts of town – such as Del Mar, Carlsbad, La Jolla, El Cajon and more. Check the website for details!

There’s also a delivery fee – ranging from $4.99 to $12.99 – depending on how far away the location is. The delivery fee is kind of bummer but if you think about it, it’s reasonable for the service they’re providing. You don’t have to leave your house and you get a ton more choices for the delivery fee. No parking, no waiting, no crowds!

For Jake’s area (near the College area), there were so many choices – Italian, Indian, American, Chinese, Japanese – just about anything you’d want! There were a few places we’ve visited before (such as Eddie’s and Devine Pastabilities) that I thought about ordering from but we ended up getting Chinese food from Panda Inn, which is a Southern California chain of restaurants. The Panda Inn is the restaurant that’s at the top of Horton Plaza. I’ve heard about Panda Inn before and think of it as “fancy” Chinese food and thought this would be a good opportunity to try it out. Panda Inn is the sit-down restaurant and is the “mother” to the Panda Express chain.

I placed the order online after staring and reading through many menus. The online ordering system is fairly straightforward and easy to use. I did try looking at the site on an iPad 2 and the site didn’t work quite as well on that (you couldn’t scroll through the menu’s) so definitely use a regular computer for this one. The website stated a delivery time of 75 minutes and we got the order about 70 minutes later. Jake and I were able to get in an episode of Star Trek the Next Generation while waiting for the delivery.

Here’s our spread from the Panda Inn. I totally dug the nice take-out containers that the food were in – nice wide plastic with clear topped lids.

This is the Orange Chicken ($14), which was a Jake requested item. Tender crispy chicken fresh wokked with baby corn in a spicy orange sauce. 

The orange sauce is not super sweet (which I liked) and used white meat for the chicken. It wasn’t spicy (a lot of places seem to do the spicy orange chicken) and the chicken had a nice outer crisp. The orange flavor wasn’t super strong either, more of a mild orange flavor. Jake, who is a connoisseur of orange chicken and always orders it, wasn’t as into this one. It wasn’t sweet enough for him and the orange flavor wasn’t as spot on as he liked. I thought it was fine, myself.

The favorite dish for the both of us was the Panda Beef ($16.50). Crispy beef, ginger and garlic in sweet and spicy peppercorn sauce.

The beef here is sliced fairly thin and has a wonderful outer crisp. The ginger and garlic in nice and pronounced with a lovely sweet-spicy combination. Not too sticky sweet and not too spicy, either. This is one of their menu specialties and I can see why – the flavor is excellent and the beef is very well cooked.

I also got an order of Pan Fried Noodles ($11). Your choice of chicken, beef, shrimp, pork, vegetable or any combination, with egg noodles, with Napa cabbage mushrooms, carrots, snow peas, fresh broccoli and bamboo shoots.

I got the “mixture” option with all of above included. The noodles were separated in their own container and the topping was in another container so the noodles wouldn’t get too soggy upon arrival. A very nice touch. I dumped the sauce, meat and veggies on the noodles and snapped a few photos. I loved the mushrooms in this dish and the sauce was a nice compliment to the noodles. The noodles didn’t taste super crispy to me, once the sauce and toppings were put on it just soaked up the flavors but since it is separated you can maintain the crispiness (if you want to) but just combining the items separately. Good amount of each item and loved the veggies, too.

We also got this white chocolate dipped fortune cookies for dessert. I love how they were wrapped in this bright, shiny gold foil making them look oh-so-fancy. I’ll admit I got excited when I saw they were chocolate dipped – what a nice little twist to a fortune cookie! I usually just crack them open to read my fortune and throw the cookie away but I actually ate these. Yummy.

Overall, it was a great experience to try out Expressly Gourmet. It was super nice to get a nice, tasty meal to eat at home without having to get out of my comfy clothes. We ate our dinner in the backyard and enjoyed the nice evening in. Not having to go out and find parking or sitting around and waiting was a nice treat! Thanks again to Expressly Gourmet for letting us try out their service!

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