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EATS: in and around Ventura County | TIDBITS

New Type of Panda

Latest addition to Chinese chain offers cooked-to-order dishes at quick pace.


It has been 25 years since Andrew Cherng, founder and chairman of Panda Management Co., opened the original Panda Inn Chinese restaurant in Pasadena.

Since then, Cherng has opened five more of the full-service Mandarin and Szechuan restaurants as well as about 260 fast-food versions--the Panda Express chain.

To round out its scope of culinary service, the restaurant company has started a Panda Panda chain--a casual dining establishment offering cooked-to-order dishes at a semi-fast-food pace. The seventh and most recent of the Panda Panda sites opened last week in Westlake Village.

The Mandarin-Szechuan menu features an appetizer list that includes fried pork dumplings (99 cents for two, $2.75 for six), spicy chicken wings ($2.50 for six, $4.75 for 12) and chicken egg rolls ($1.25 for one, $2.39 for two).

Among the beef entrees ($7.25 each) are Mongolian beef, Thai spicy beef and spicy beef in a black bean sauce. Chicken dishes ($6.50 each) include chicken and green beans, black pepper chicken, orange peel chicken and pineapple chicken. And pork dishes ($6.75 each) include shredded pork in garlic sauce, mu shu pork and sweet and sour pork.

Panda Panda also includes a list of chicken breast entrees ($6.99), shrimp ($8.99), vegetable ($5.95) and noodle ($5.75) dishes; teriyaki bowls ($4.25) and house specialties including crispy marinated sliced beef fried with ginger-garlic orange sauce ($8.95) and Sweet & Pungent Shrimp ($9.99).

Panda Panda is at 5752 Lindero Canyon Road. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays through Fridays, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Saturdays. Call (818) 889-8685.


Folks at Ventura's 71 Palm Restaurant will celebrate the establishment's first anniversary and the site's recent designation as a Ventura County historical landmark by giving away some sweets. Guests visiting the French restaurant for dinner Wednesday will receive a complimentary dessert.

The restaurant is at 71 Palm St. For reservations call (805) 653-7222.


El Nino storms are long gone, but their effects linger at the Old Creek Ranch Winery in Oak View.

For a couple of months during the thick of the storms, the winery saw a steep drop in the critical walk-in customer traffic. Initially, washed out roads kept people away, and even after access was restored, visitors were hesitant to make the trek.

Even now visitor count remains down.

To draw renewed attention to the winery, the Old Creek Ranch management is planning an open house Nov. 14-15. There will be wine tasting, hors d'oeuvres and winery tours from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.

"Last year was a pretty good year, but this year was the toughest we've ever had," said Mark Maitland, co-owner of the family-run operation. "We were cut off from the world for two full months."

Maitland said the open house is intended to jog a few memories, to remind wine drinkers that the winery is up and running and open to the public. "If it works out as a successful event, we'll probably do it once a year or even more," Maitland said.

All Oak Creek wines will be available including the 1993 merlot, winner of a bronze medal at this year's Los Angeles County Fair and the 1995 zinfandel, a bronze-medal winner at the recent California State Fair."

The winery is on Old Creek Road off California 33. Admission to the wine tasting is free. For information, call 649-4132.

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