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Firecracker Chicken Breast from Panda Express

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Last Friday, before the great snow blast of 2011 descended upon Houston overnight (not), I grabbed lunch at Panda Express and redeemed my coupon for a free portion of its limited-time offering, Firecracker Chicken Breast, in honor of the Chinese New Year.

Honestly, the dish was surprisingly close to the company description, minus a few discrepancies - some minor, some major. The bell peppers were, in fact, quite crispy and added the most flavor to the dish. They were sweet and not overcooked, which is good, because there's nothing worse than a soggy bell pepper. The onions were nicely crisp without having that overpowering, in-your-face pungency.

But I still didn't like it much, which was due to the decidedly un-zesty sauce, the most important aspect of the dish aside from the actual chicken texture (which was good, by the way). The sauce was salty and indistinguishable from a mediocre, brown gravy served in a school cafeteria. It was a disappointment, especially when compared to the spicy, tangy sauces on the Kobari Beef entrée I also ordered.

Of course, beggars can't be choosers, and I did end up eating the entire sample's worth and didn't pay a dime. Next time I stop in to satisfy my frequent Chinese fast food cravings, I'll order the Kobari Beef and steer clear of the Firecracker Chicken Breast - which should be easy, since it's only being offered through March 1.

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