If you’re an American living abroad, or a Thai citizen who once studied in the States, then it’s likely that every once in awhile, you might get hit with a craving for some very specific types of chicken — Kung Pao, General Tso’s, sweet and sour orange chicken.
It’s undeniable that Bangkok’s diverse culinary scene contains a ton of great Chinese restaurants, but it has — up until recently — been missing one thing: Americanized Chinese food.
That’s now changed with the launch of American-Chinese restaurant Lazy Panda, which opened just two weeks ago in a simple shophouse tucked away in Soi Sukhumvit 31. Owner James Au, 30, is an American of Chinese descent who came to Bangkok by way of America’s midwest, from the state of Minnesota.
Speaking to Coconuts Bangkok during a recent visit, Au said that he had checked out other American-style Chinese restaurants in Asia before concluding that their dishes were “not the same” as what he had known growing up. And so, he decided to open a restaurant of his own — even inviting his mom, who had opened a Chinese restaurant of this kind back in America, to take over his kitchen.
Inside the shophouse (you can’t miss the painting of a chubby panda LOL-ing on the wall), all meals are served inside a paper takeaway box whether or not customers are dining in. The highlights on the menu include well-known Chinese takeaway choices in the States, like General Tso’s Chicken (THB240), deep-fried chicken pieces tossed in a tangy sweet sauce. Those who want Kung Pao Chicken (THB200) and Orange Chicken (THB240) can order them too.
If you like cheese in your Chinese food, then good news — you can get golden-hued Crab Rangoon, dumpling appetizers filled with crab meat and cream cheese, (THB65 for three pieces), as well as warm, crispy deep-fried puffs stuffed with cream cheese (THB50 for three pieces). The puffs alone are really good but they’re also served with a thick, lemon-based sweet and sour dipping sauce, which provides a splash of tangy, fruity flavor that doesn’t go quite well with the puffs (so, we suggest, ignore the sauce and enjoy the puffs!)
When asked which is his favorite dish on the menu, Au said it’s Lazy Panda’s Mandarin Beef (THB220). The dish consists of beef stir-fried with vegetables such as onion, broccoli, carrot, cucumber and bell pepper, before all of it gets covered in a brown sweet soy-chili glaze. The beef is marinated overnight, Au said, so it becomes tender and very easy to chew.
Most of Lazy Panda’s menu items are priced between THB190 to THB240 (there’s only one exception, the Sweet & Sour Shrimp, which costs THB280). Pricier than what many of us may have seen at other Chinese eateries across the city, but it’s worth noting that each box does seem to come with larger-than-average portion sizes. We found that one box can be shared between two people, which works out to about THB100 to THB120 per person.
Au said his restaurant is busiest during lunchtime, given the many office workers in the neighborhood, while some other customers prefer to order food delivered to their doorsteps — giving a nod to the lazy in “Lazy Panda.”
We also asked Au about one thing that’s missing from his American Chinese restaurant: the fortune cookies bearing tiny pieces of paper printed with words of wisdom (or vague prophecies) inside. In response, Au said he plans to add that to his restaurant soon, since it adds to the fun (and for some, nostalgia) for customers.
Lazy Panda is located on Soi Sukhumvit 31 alley between BTS Asoke and BTS Phrom Phong. It is open from 11am to 10pm every day and also offers delivery via LINE MAN and GET (operated by Jakarta-based Go-Jek).
Lazy Panda is at 245/6 Soi Sukhumvit 31, Watthana, Bangkok
Open 11am – 10pm daily
BTS: Asoke / Phrom Phong
Phone: +6698 279 9236