Panda House is no longer just a waffle and ice cream shop as chef John C. Berrocal has returned to Saipan and has reinvigorated the Garapan hot spot.
Berrocal, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris, France, said the new Panda House had a soft-opening last July 9 and its new look and new menu has attracted a fair number of local customers.
“Panda House was just an ice cream shop and now we turned it into a sort of French brasserie, which is a restaurant with a relaxed setting that serves single dishes and other fast-food-type meals,” he said.
To touch up Panda House’s all-dessert menu, Berrocal has introduced such classics like hot wings, calamari, and Italian fries as well as new signature dishes like Andean Fried Chicken, Panda Supreme Burger, and Chicken Spiedies.
“We got very good starters—small plates. We have a very a tasty burger, Italian chicken sandwich, we have two kinds of chicken wings, fritters, and we have fried calamari.”
And Berrocal’s pizzas are no slouches either. If there’s one thing the acclaimed chef perfected in his brief sojourn on Rota, it was making pizza. Hands down, early reviews, say that Panda House’s Italian artisan pizzas are the best in town. They come in Boscaoila, Americana, Rustica, and, of course, Margherita.
True to its new French brasserie identity, Panda House will also soon serve alcohol. After all, “brasserie” in French actually means “brewery.”
“We would eventually serve cocktails, beer, and wines that will complement the small plates we already serve like our hot chicken wings, pizza, burgers, and the likes,” he said.
For the old ice cream shop, Berrocal has also introduced a new stylish dessert—the Belgian King Waffle, which is a waffle ice cream served in a French style, with chopped fruits like bananas, strawberries, and blueberries slathered in decadent chocolate and whipped cream.
“We want to have everything for everyone. The old Panda House was just a dessert place but with this new menu we’ve totally transformed it into a restaurant with an American diner feel, aside from the French brasserie look. It’s essentially entrées and desserts under one roof now,” he said.
Also on the pipeline is Sapori, which will be a contemporary Italian and Peruvian seafood steakhouse that Berrocal will open next door to Panda House. Sapori translates to “flavor” that pretty much sums up Berrocal’s ideas for a new fine-dining restaurant.
Panda House is located next to I Love Saipan in Garapan and across the Bubba Gump Restaurant. It is open Sunday to Thursday from 11am to 9pm and Saturday and Friday from 11am to 10pm. For reservations or for more information, call 233-5527.