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.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.