An unexpected change of dinner plans– China Panda in Herrenberg

My husband, Bill, is about to step into a new role at his company.  To celebrate, we were invited to have dinner with Bill’s bosses, as well as his soon to be ex boss who is heading for a new job in Hawaii.  On our way to the restaurant, a very nice looking Greek place in Möhringen, we were sidelined by a massive Stau.  Rain was pouring, traffic was crawling at a snail’s pace, and the GPS put us at at least 45 minutes late for our appointment.  Because it looked like we would be keeping our dinner companions waiting for too long, Bill called and canceled.  Then we turned around and went home an unfamiliar route.  I took note of at least one more restaurant on the way that I want to try sometime.

Although there were a couple of tempting places on our way home, we ultimately decided to have dinner at China Panda in Herrenberg.  It was really about time we stopped there, since in the four years total we’ve lived near Herrenberg, we’d never had a meal there.  I noticed that their very convenient parking lot always had cars in it and they advertise some very cost effective deals on their windows.  Besides, it had been ages since our last Asian inspired repast.

Upon entering China Panda, I took note of a very large group of Asians who were sitting in the very nice bar area.  They were an animated group and I could tell they were enjoying the food.  I took that as a good sign.  I don’t pretend to be an expert on Asian cuisine, but I do remember when Bill and I were dating fifteen years ago and we ended up in a Chinese restaurant in Falls Church, Virginia.  We walked in and were the only Caucasians in the place.  Everyone stared as we sat down, but then we had the most amazing lunch.  I took the leftovers with me back to South Carolina, where I was attending graduate school at the time.  No one stared when we walked into China Panda, but we did end up having a great dinner for not much money.

We were invited to take any open table we wanted, so we selected one right next to the impressive looking buffet, which several guests were enjoying.  I eyed it curiously, but then decided I’d rather order off the menu.  Bill and I each had beer to drink.  His was a Lamm Export from Sindelfingen, a beer that was new for us because we rarely venture into Sindelfingen.  I had a Malteser Hefeweizen.  We both had spring rolls.  For our main dish, I ordered crispy duck with pineapple, vegetables, and rice.  Bill had Szechuan beef with vegetables.  As we waited, I enjoyed the soothing sounds of German pop music and watched a young girl drop a scoop of ice cream on the floor.  The ice cream was there less than five seconds.  😉

These spring rolls were off the chain!  They were very fresh and tasty.  I thought I would only be able to eat one, but I managed to eat both.    

Obligatory shot of Bill sporting a newly fuzzy face.  He’s been working on growing a beard this week.  I think it suits him, but honestly it’s like kissing a Brillo pad in the morning.  We’ll see how long this new look lasts.

The main dishes.  The crispy duck was delicious!  My only complaint was that there were two creepy mushrooms included in the vegetables.  However, there were only two and Bill graciously took them out.  The beef was fabulous.  Very tender and flavorful, with beautifully cooked fresh vegetables and no fungus to speak of.  Yea!  

Again, I thought we’d be stuffed, but we managed to finish most of these two dishes.  Bill took the leftovers with him for lunch today.  When our gracious hostess noticed we were finished eating, she cleared our plates and brought us each a scoop of bourbon vanilla ice cream with fresh melon.

The large Asian group was clearing out and they all got on a big tour bus.  I have seen lots of tour buses full of Asians in other parts of Europe where there’s a lot of tourism, but I guess Herrenberg is on the map.  They seemed to be very pleased as they left.  I could see why.

A nice dessert surprise!

As we were enjoying the fruit and ice cream, I noticed a woman who appeared to be a regular coming in.  She gave the proprietor a big hug and kiss and sat down in the recently vacated bar area.  I think I’d like to sit in the bar area too, not just because I like my booze, but also because it just looks really nice in there.  The bar itself is very ornate and attractive and the room has pleasant lighting.  As I get older and my sweet bloom of youth begins to wilt, I realize that I appreciate romantic lighting more and more.

When Bill called for the check, it was presented with two fortune cookies.  The hostess handed me a strange box.  I wasn’t sure what it was.  At first, I thought maybe she was giving me tea or something.  I honestly didn’t know and she didn’t explain it because she wasn’t an English speaker and my German skills still stink.  It turned out to be a small bottle of plum wine.  We’ll probably enjoy that over the weekend.  Our total came to 34,20 euros before the tip.

Sorry this picture sucks.  It was pouring rain and stormy when I took it.  In any case, if you’re near the train station in Herrenberg, this place is super easy to find.  If you’re driving, there’s plenty of parking.  The food is good.  The service is friendly.  The decor is interesting and inviting and I’m sure we’ll be back.

I give China Panda high marks for food and service.  It’s also a very economical place to eat.  I’m glad we stopped there last night, even if we were supposed to be eating Greek food with Bill’s bosses.  Ah well, I’m sure there will be a next time.


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