Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pana 88

3201 Farnam Street
Mon - Sat 11a.m. - 9p.m., Sun noon - 9p.m.
Pana88 on Urbanspoon

Sweet & Sour Chicken ($7.50) --
I hear they love this stuff over there in Asia.
Pineapple, green bell pepper, onion and carrot freshened things up.

I present to you Omaha's newest pan-Asian eatery, which is one of my least favorite labels. Combining and mastering a bunch of distinct culinary styles hardly ever works out. But add a dose of American (Peanut Butter Chicken, sweet potato fries), attention to detail, and low prices, and you have my favorite place for pan-Asian in Midtown Crossing.

One thing is for sure: I will be in for the Scallion Pancakes ($4) again -- maybe tomorrow. The thick, chewy, and slightly greasy dough transported me to the streets of Chinatown USA. Of the three dipping sauces, the chili was my favorite since it provided a real kick in the mouth.

Scallion Pancake ($4):
Soy sauce, garlic chili sauce, and I'll be darned if that's not ranch dressing.

I liked the entrees the way you like that girl you met at the bar that laughs at all of your jokes but doesn't really have any of her own. I appreciated the meticulously cut veggies and the absurdly reasonable portion sizes. The beef was tender and the batter on the chicken was thin and light. The sauces were balanced and there was just the right amount. In the world of fast casual, this is the cream of the crop.

The music, combined with the Shazam app on my phone, provided some hearty laughs. And the three big-screen televisions seemed completely unnecessary. It looked like there were only soft drinks and juices available, so be sure to have your aperitif before you arrive. With a relatively non-adventurous range of flavors, spices, music, and decor, Pana 88 didn't blow my socks off, but it's much more than Midtown's PF Changs, and definitely worth a visit soon.

Mongolian Beef ($7.25):
This might not really be the post-independence National Dish of Mongolia,
but mushrooms, onions, and cellophane noodles combine to form a super pan-Asian treat. 

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