Panda Bowl has been serving delicious Chinese-American style food to the patrons of Simi Valley for quite some time now. Most of their business is takeout, yet dining in is also an option, as they have six small tables inside to accommodate those wanting to dine-in. Panda Bowl is a great spot to quench those Chinese-takeout food cravings that many of us Americans have grown up with.
As a Simi Valley native, I remember growing up eating delicious bowls of orange chicken over steamed white rice. The sticky, tangy chicken was crispy, chewy, and full of intense umami flavor. The beef and broccoli was salty and sweet, the broccoli never over cooked with a nice snap to it. The char sui pork was always a crowd favorite; the rich fatty pork had a wonderful sweetness that was not overpowering, with a reddish hue from the marinade that made it even more fun to eat. Those were the days growing up as a teenager in Simi Valley, now fast-forward 20 years later, Panda bowl is still serving the same combination plates that patrons never stop lining up for.
Panda Bowl first opened up its doors in the summer of 1997. Johnson Khun is the owner of the restaurant, sharing partnership with 2 others. His mother, Susan, opened the restaurant with the help from their uncle. Johnson's mother was a refugee from Cambodia, who fled the native land in search of a new life for herself and her family. Their family had owned a few restaurants on the east coast, and this was their first west coast venture. They wanted to showcase Chinese food that was pleasing to the American palate. Johnson's mother sought consultation from family members, and thus the menu of Panda Bowl was born.
All the recipes were passed down through members of the family, never deviating from the original. These original recipes are the backbone of the restaurant and are what the locals of Simi Valley have grown to love and expect. The fact that recipes have not changed in 20 years is a testament to how addictive and crave-able the food at Panda Bowl really is.
At the time, there were only 2 other Chinese restaurants in the city of Simi Valley, and they were sit down restaurants where every plate was made to order. Panda bowl was the first fast-service Chinese restaurant in the area and would soon take the Simi Valley people by storm.
"At first, it was challenging to find people to even come into the restaurant," says owner Johnson Khun. "We would walk around the neighborhood and put menus on people's doors and cars just to get people to know about us."
Twenty years later, finding people to come into the restaurant is the least of their worries. "Finding quality cooks and sales associates is most challenging, " says Johnson. With the rise and of minimum wage and the cost of goods rising, the next few years will birth a whole set of new challenges.
What sets Panda Bowl apart from other similar restaurants is their dedication to "quality and quantity". This fast-service Chinese restaurant serves huge portions of fresh, mouth-watering combinations at an affordable price. They use top quality meats and produce sourced only from local vendors. The giant portions attract families of all sizes, leaving not one customer less than completely satisfied.
At the moment, Panda bowl attracts the majority of customers through word-of-mouth. They have recently partnered with grub hub and seen great successes, further increasing their exposure.
Johnson and his partners have a sister restaurant, Wok Express, located in Granada Hills. They currently have no plans on further expansion but will not rule out the possibility.
Since its inception in 1997, Panda Bowl continues to please the crowds of people who flock to their doors everyday for a fresh bowl of Chinese food, made from the hearts of people dedicated to supporting their families and serving their community. If you are in the area, please pay them a visit, you will not be disappointed.
2311 Tapo St. Suite A
Simi Valley, CA 93063
Donut Delite is a small donut shop tucked away on the corner of Madera and Royal Ave. in Simi Valley. The have been open for 30 years, and although the appearance of the business may look unassuming, don't be so quick to judge a book by its cover. Donut Delite is known to have some of .the best donuts in town, so good in fact that Fox 5 News did a special feature on the business in the program "Burrous Bites", where they feature amazing food that is often times overlooked and unheard about. Watch the clip below to see the report on this unsung donut hero.
The Taing family opened the doors of Donut Delite in1989; yes that's right, 30 years ago! Sam and Yim Taing bought the business from a previous donut shop owner. They were immigrants from the East Asian country of Cambodia. Sam and Yim Taing fled the country while it was under the ungodly regime of the Khmer Rouge. They were refugees looking to escape the genocide that ravaged their country in hopes to provide a possible future for their children.
At that time, many Cambodians were entering the donut shop business. It was a business model taught by other Cambodians who established themselves after they left the homeland. Sam and Yim Taing opened the donut shop as a means to survive. It was the only card they had to play after surviving the tragedies of the place they called home.
Incidentally, the unmistakable "pink box" that you see in all donut shops has significant meaning to Cambodian people. During those times, the pink color was the cheapest in price, therefore was purchased by the donut shop owners to increase profitability. Now, decades later, it is a symbol used to commemorate the survival of the Cambodian people. Remember that next time you get a box of donuts!
What sets the donuts at Donut Delite apart from its competitors is its incredible airiness and fluffiness. After 30 years of perfecting the art, the Taing family produces some of the lightest and pillowy donuts you have ever tasted. Lee Taing, the son of Sam and Yim, says "It's all about the timing. The dough has to be fried and an absolutely critical point in the process or the product will be flat and greasy." His father Sam has perfected this method, which he executes every morning during the dark hours before any of us are even awake. His disciplined and seasoned technique can be tasted in every bite.
The Taing family also believes in keeping things approachable. Simple glazes and toppings makes for a perfect decadent donut. No wonder their patrons line up day in and day out for these delicious pieces of heaven!
Donut Delite gets most of their clients through word of mouth. They will also send gift boxes of donuts to local businesses in order to spread their love throughout their community. Unable to resist the craving for more, the recipients will return to the shop for another taste of donut goodness.
Some of the struggles that Donut Delite faces today is the cost of goods that are constantly on the rise. "Some patron's aren't thrilled about paying more money for donuts," says Lee, "It's a treat that many consider to be a commodity, and rising prices may make them look elsewhere." The Taings are unwilling to sacrifice the quality of their product, and their commitment their cause might lead them into a tight situation.
Currently, Donut Delite does not have plans to open any more locations, yet they have expanded their business by selling their products wholesale to other donut shops in the Los Angeles area. Who knows, you might be enjoying the pleasures of Donut Delite more often than you know! Be sure to pay them a visit if you're passing through town; but if you're already a native to Simi Valley, stop by and say hello! And do yourself a favor, get a pink box full of these irresistible donut delights.
1464 Madera Rd. #A
Simi Valley, CA 93065