It’s always worth checking out another Asian buffet restaurant, so Piggy and company made a visit to Panda China Buffet on West 15th Street in Panama City. We’ll be back, especially for a Cantonese delight we haven’t found elsewhere in town– a buffet version of da bin lo, where diners dunk their favorite ingredients into hot broth. While you can’t sit around the table dropping fish balls into soup like you could in a California Chinatown, you can choose among seafood dainties (mussels, clams, shrimp), beef and tendon, and an assortment of mushrooms and fresh vegetables, and cook it all up in baskets dipped in a slow-simmered hot broth right on the buffet line. Piggy lived up to her moniker by taking up two baskets…
Panda China also offers an appealing Mongolian Barbeque array, as well as standard buffet entrees and sides. It’s much smaller than Chowtime or Royal, so don’t look for the same variety, but there’s plenty to like. Quality of sushi was high, and the dumplings were also quite nice. The cook makes the soup broth fresh daily, and other dishes showed the same attention. Desserts were limited to the usual Asian buffet fare: cake squares, banana pudding, fruit, or ice cream.
Service at Panda China went beyond the drop-off of drinks; friendly staff help visitors through the soup-making or Mongolian BBQ process as needed. Panda China offers the choice and value of a buffet, in a less mass-market atmosphere. We found it a good combination.
Cost is typical for the local buffet market: $7.55 for lunch.