Best Panda on Balboa and 42nd Ave is *not* a branch of the infamous Panda Express. (g)
A bunch of us, including Low End Theory, stuffed our faces (with plenty of stuff left over) for $13 a piece on the ultrabusy Chinese New Year's eve. Totally good deal.
We got the set menu for 5 (there actually was 6 of us), and the food came in overwhleming quantities. No need for extras, although we ended up substituting the chicken dish with a 3 meaty roasted quails with good red-brown flavors.
The pork dishes were my faves. Totally dived into the stewed pork (essentially thick cut bacon) with preserved vegetables. O sweet lard. O tasty meat. Meltingly delicious.
The Peking style spare ribs were crisply brittle on the outside, with good succulent pork within. Very well rendered sauce, somewhat plummy and tangy and somewhat sweet.
Another highlight -- the bread and fried sand dab. Super crunchy, and as delicate as a feather. Almost leviates on the plate.
Other dishes were well prepared: lobster chunks stir fried with ginger and scallions, a tofu and shrimp soup dotted with sweet pings of peas, clams in black bean sauce, sauteed bak choy.
A bit high on the salt but simple huge portions. Not high end in any way but totally hearty and well prepared. Dessert was a smooth starchy peanut flavored soup of some kind and fresh cut oranges.