American Chinese food dreams come true on Sukhumvit.
Note: This review is based purely on the restaurant’s takeout and delivery services.
Nothing triggers the reptilian impulses in the back of your brain quite like sticky, sweet, artery-clogging American-style Chinese food. Somewhat remarkably, this guilty pleasure remained off the radar in Bangkok until 2019, when Phrom Phong’s Lazy Panda opened.
From the hefty portions and deep-fried proteins down to the straightforward menu and trapezoidal takeout boxes, Lazy Panda scores points for authenticity (editor’s note: this might be the only time in history that American Chinese food and authenticity have been used in the same sentence). Everything seems to have been renamed only just so to toe the legal line between acceptable and outright copyright infringement. Panda Express? Let’s go with Lazy Panda. Mongolian beef? How about Mandarin beef. General Tso? Try General Tao. It’s familiar yet endearingly distinct, and we can’t get enough of it.
Take the General Tao’s chicken, for instance (B275 a la carte/B240 box set). It’s a classic in the sense that it features a thick, brown sauce and just a few florets of broccoli—American Chinese food notably diverges from the real thing by pushing fresh vegetables to the sidelines—but it’s spicier than what your palate might remember, and that heat takes the edge off the sweetness. It helps that the chicken is deep-fried to perfection, too. Frankly, if you don’t order this dish, you’re doing something wrong.
The similarly deep-fried orange chicken (B275 a la carte/B240 box set), on the other hand, doesn’t hit quite the same high note. Its sauce bursts with a citrus aroma, thanks to the use of fresh orange juice, but it lacks the extra dimension it needs to level out its tooth-rattling sweetness. Go for the Kung Pao chicken (B230 a la carte/B200 box set) instead, which is loaded with crunchy bell peppers, peanuts and dried chilies.
What really sets Lazy Panda apart from the lukewarm buffets of the American heartland, however, are the details. The heaping piles of fried rice (B70 small/B140 large) are smoky and toothsome, made with wok-fried small-grain rice and liberal amounts of soy sauce. The sweet dipping sauce that comes with your chicken spring rolls (B80) and cheese puffs (B50) seems to have been fortified with star anise and cloves. It’s fancier than the treatment this cuisine tends to receive, and the results speak for themselves. In short, anyone who grew up with a better knowledge of General Tso than General Patton will be satisfied.
Available on Foodpanda, Get, Grab and Lineman