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