The Panda Express (PE) Franchise is well-advertised for their Orange Chicken and their thriftyness, We tested these assertions by comparing them with Davis Noodle City (DNC), a local restaurant that has Orange Chicken on the menu, but does not consider it one of their specialty dishes. Thus, if DNC comes out on top, that means one of their non-specialty dishes is better than PEs "best" dish. Note, this experiment does not test whether DNC's best dish can beat PE's best dish. This experiment was performed on Sunday, November 6th, 2007 at 5 PM, by CraigBrozinsky and 3 others. It appears to be the first formal example of a Business Showdown on the wiki. Hopefully others are soon to follow.


Average travel time between PE and midpoint of Anderson & 8th was 5 minutes, and the average travel time between DNC and midpoint of Anderson & 8th= 5 minutes. The DNC team called in their order as they left the parking lot of PE, and were given a receipt at time=9. When the team entered, the owner told them "Wow, you're quick! But so are we," and pointed to a bag on the counter. The PE team received a receipt at time=14, five minutes longer than the DNC team. Based on these findings, if the teams started at the mid-point, both teams might have gotten their food at the same time, but it is unknown when DNC completed the order. Bottom line: Panda Express is no quicker than a local place, and the opposite may in fact be true.


Orange chicken from Panda Express

We measured the three PE items (Orange Chicken, Chow Mein, and complementary rice) at 37.5 oz. The Chow Mein and Orange Chicken from DNC items weighed at least 48 oz, but a scale limitation couldn't give an estimate above this amount. DNC's food cost $4.04/lb and PEs cost $4.54. Bottom line: Davis Noodle City wins.

UPDATE: This info is out of date as of March 2011. Orange chicken at DNC is now about $9.00 for dinner and therefore considerably more expensive than Panda Express.


Orange chicken and noodles from Davis Noodle City

Even blindfolded, the participants were able to tell which food came from which restaurant. The tasters agreed that PE's Orange Chicken was much sweeter, and that DNC was much spicier, tasted more like real chicken, and actually had an orange flavor. 1 person preferred PE, 3 people preferred DNC. The Chow Mein from PE had more flavor than that of DNC. However, putting the Orange Chicken sauce over the DNC Chow Mein led 3/4 tasters to prefer it by far. Bottom line: Most preferred DNC, but individual preferences exist.

Freshness and presentation

We all agreed DNC's food looked better, and their inclusion of Bok Choy gave them freshness points. PE's noodles looked and tasted like they had been out for a few hours, and DNC's seemed very fresh.


Panda Express does not live up to its reputation of being cheap and quick. A local restaurant, Davis Noodle City was arguably quicker, definitely cheaper, had a better presentation, and 3/4 people found it the tastier Chinese Restaurant.


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2008-09-13 22:46:11   interesting Good work gentlemen.

repeat and see if this the results are duplicated!

Personally I figured DNC would kick some ass in this. —StevenDaubert

2008-09-13 22:46:13   I would rather pay for DNC than get PE for free. —Aaron.Curtin

I don't go to PE, personally I resent them for the food, the hibachi-san name (even thought it's irrational resentment) and the fact that they replaced the decent but pricey pizza joint, which replaced beloved boston chicken/market. —StevenDaubert

2009-03-08 20:51:45   My girlfriend and I prefer Panda Express' orange chicken. —OrofinJackson

2009-03-08 21:40:44   I feel this is like comparing Taco Bell to El Mariachi —EricaMacGregor

  • That's an apt analogy! —CovertProfessor
  • I'd love to see someone do that! Though, unlike Panda Express, Taco Bell does have items that you won't find at a Taqueria, and is open until 1AM. There are certainly days when I'd prefer a Nacho Cheese Chalupa to a Nopales Burrito! —CraigBrozinsky

2009-03-29 20:14:23   I've never seen a Panda Express with a drive through, their food doesn't use MSG like Taco Bell, and they have panda shaped hedges out front. Say what you want about which one tastes better, but Panda Express is definitely no Taco Bell.

Davis Noodle City has strange jiggly fat on all of their chicken dishes, while El Mariachi has nothing but delicious lean cuts of meat. The two restaurants can only compare in the number of snobbish comments about "authenticity" on their wiki articles.

Also, Panda Express has a few thinks I can't get anywhere else in Davis. Their fortune cookies with a touch of vanilla, the only truly spicy chicken dish in Davis, and beijing beef. —OrofinJackson

  • A quick search of Taco Bell's Ingredients on their website indicated to me that there is no Monosodium Glutamate in any Taco Bell item, either. So, in terms of food, Taco Bell and Panda Express may be analagous. Maybe not in terms of exterior garden decor, though... —TheShah
  • I have seen several drive-through Panda Expresses, including one as close as Natomas. I would also argue that, if you actually look at the nutrition information, the Panda Express menu is significantly more unhealthy than Taco Bell's in general. —ScottMeehleib

2010-07-29 16:51:19   I like the idea of a VS page comparing all types of local businesses.. anyone else? —WesOne

That could be trouble, what if we did a Drom's vs Bizarro world? we could start a Wiki riot. :)

  • I love the idea! We should apply for a research grant from, say, the National Institutes of Health to fund these experiments. —TheShah

Yes! I'm so in. —tg

2010-12-06 20:56:47

A quick search of taco bell's website and you're surprised you turned up nothing? Try google next time!

More reasons why Panda Express and Taco Bell are incomparable:

-You can see everything the chefs are doing at Panda Express. At Taco Bell, which usually seems to be employed by social degenerates (no offense if you're employed there) you have no idea what they're doing in those back rooms. My best friend worked at Taco Bell for a year and he refuses to eat fast food now. He's seen things. But he'll eat at Panda still because you can see everything.

-Taco Bell consistently gets failing grades for cleanliness in their restaurants. It's consistently in the top 10 worst fast food lists by NBC. Enjoy the cockroach legs and rat feces.

-Panda Express serves delicious unseweetened china mist tea. Taco Bell has raspberry Brisk.

-Billy Mays signed a contract to advertise for Taco Bell just before his death. Coincidence?

At this point I'm just procrastinating from finals studying and I think you probably get that I like Panda Express a lot more than Taco Bell. —OrofinJackson

2011-03-07 16:26:28   Are there any other restaurant comparisons? —ThanhVu

  • People thought it was a good idea and created a Business Showdown page, but no one really followed through. You could be the one who inspires everyone to try again! —CovertProfessor
  • I was thinking the other day (as I tend to think about totally pointless things) about how interesting it would be to compile a list of every pizza place that delivers in Davis. Then have a group of people who all initiate a call to one of those locations at the same time to place an order for say a medium, pepperoni pizza to get delivered. We could create a big chart to compare size, cost of the pizza, delivery fee, speed relative to delivery, speed of order, temperature of delivered pizza, overall "quality" and so on. This would of course require lots of hungry folk, lots of cash to spend on a silly project and people who would waste time thinking about something like this...not to mention that true scientific method would dictate we do it at least three times and we'd have to decide if we wanted to try this during a slow or busy time of the day. I'm gonna stop now. —OliviaY
    • Pizza... did someone say pizza? Mmmm. —CovertProfessor
      • There is a wiki get together proposed for May 7th or 8th... I'll bet most would deliver to Slide Hill Park, and if they didn't, that would be data too. -jw

2011-03-10 21:25:13   Being that DNC's chicken is not breaded and quite expensive for Chinese food, Silver Dragon would have probably made for a better comparison against DNC. As it stands, it's like comparing apples and oranges. —ScottMeehleib

  • Yeah, like comparing something reasonably healthy that tastes good, and something that tastes like fried breading with sauce on it. —CovertProfessor
    • Haha, yeah. Maybe I should have said like comparing apples and Twinkies. ;) - SM
      • :-)