Friday, September 9, 2016

First Bite: Yo! Panda

It frustrates me whenever there are new restaurants quite far from me. It frustrates me even more when I see its mouthwatering dishes. But thanks to some errands, I managed to swing by SM Megamall and finally got to try Yo! Panda.

Hello, Yo! Panda
I saw a handful of posts about this place last weekend and it gave me an impression that it only offers egg waffle sundaes. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that what I thought to be a dessert store offers other modern Hong Kong dishes such as baos, noodles and rice bowls. Without much thought, I decided to have lunch here instead of going to another restaurant that I have been eying for months.  
Yo! Panda’s area is small and quite cramped especially for those sitting by the walk way. It was also quite hot inside. I guess it was because it was a bit crowded and the location of the restaurant, being near the exit, makes it harder for the A/C to do its magic. There were some flies too that remind me of Uptown Mall where the fly to human ratio is 1:1. The place is charming though.
I quickly ordered the recommended Cantonese Style Beef Brisket (PHP280) and a glass of Premium Hong Kong Milk Tea (PHP130) while my sister went with Scallion Chicken Chop (PHP230). My mom arrived a couple of minutes after and ordered Burger Steak & Rice (PHP280) and a glass of Yo! Panda’s Signature Iced Tea(PHP100). My mom and sister also ordered Mango Cheesecake Vanilla Soft Serve Waffle (PHP180) for dessert.
My rice bowl arrived first and after a few snapshots here and there, I took a mouthful.
The beef brisket was undeniably soft. It was almost the melts-in-your-mouth type of meat. And simply typing those words make me salivate. 
But such was not the case with this one. It was quite bland. Too bland. I felt like I was confined in a hospital and forced to eat tasteless food. I’m not exactly sure if it should taste like this but I have tasted other Cantonese Style Beef Brisket dishes and those had richer tastes. 
Then again, I guess this is a perfect meal for dear grandpapa and grandmama who are not fond of bold flavors.
My milk tea had a nice tea flavor which I liked. It's just a bit steep given its small serving size.
My sister’s chicken chop was also bland and boring in terms of taste. It was simply a bunch of breaded chicken chunks. 
It would have been better if they were not so stingy with the sauce. The only redeeming factor of this dish was its perfectly cooked egg. 
We couldn’t really tell how my mom’s order taste like as it was never served. We sensed that there will be a delay with my mom’s order as one of the staff approached us after 10 minutes confirming her order. Another 10 minutes went by and we followed up the last rice bowl after noticing that the other customers after us got their orders ahead of my mom’s. And after waiting for half an hour, my hangry mother called the waiter to cancel her order. 
It was interesting though that despite being hangry, she still patiently waited for the Mango Cheesecake dessert… which sadly was not worth the wait.
The waffle itself had nice crispy edges but it was just ordinary. The vanilla ice cream had nice consistency and not icy at all but it didn’t have the milky taste that I like. The mango bits were sour and made me question if those were ripe or green turning yellow mango bits. Lastly, my sister and I agreed that there was something wrong with the cheesecake. It was way off. It was too mushy and didn’t have the characteristic cheesecake taste. After another spoonful, I realized that the cheesecake tasted like frosting on graham crust. It sure made me regret not getting matcha.

While trying our best to enjoy our dessert, the staff offered a complimentary snack to appease my upset mother. I didn’t taste it anymore to avoid being disappointed. Nonetheless, it was a very nice gesture and we felt that they were sincerely apologetic. 
I posted a mini review of Yo! Panda on Instagram and one commented that he also noticed the lapses in terms of food and service but didn’t judge right away given that the place is still in its soft opening. However, I felt that several restaurants use the “soft opening” excuse way too often. I still pay the same amount whether I dine during soft opening or not so I think I should always get my money’s worth. Sadly, my visit didn’t. 

But I am pleased with how Yo! Panda’s management took my comment constructively and didn’t turn defensive and say that the dishes really taste like that or some other lame excuse. Their comment just wooed me back to giving them a second chance. 

Yo! Panda is located at 4th Floor, SM Megamall Atrium, Mandaluyong City.

Yo! Panda Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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