My parents are steadfast believers in most chain restaurants being absolute trash. But they would give in to my sister and my requests for McDonald's and Taco Bell. It was fine if the trash we were eating was American or Tex-Mex, as long as our fast food experiences were very few and far between. However, the one place my mother refused to let us eat at was Panda Express.

Now, this could be dismissed, as it's Americanized Chinese food and my mum is an immigrant from Taiwan, so obviously she'd hate Panda Express. Or that she just really hates Chinese things (seriously, I'm not allowed to buy things made in China if I'm with her). But we were allowed to eat Americanized Chinese food from other restaurants. So what gives?

Why did she hate Panda Express so much?

Oriental food isn't oriental without MSG

Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious on Flickr

My mum hated Panda Express because of monosodium glutamate, better known as MSG. Yeah, Panda Express says there's "no added MSG." That literally means they don't add it at the restaurant. It's in the food before it gets there. Why do you think it's so addictive? But even my mom telling me there was MSG didn't make me stop wanting to try it since my friends liked it.

However, my mum insisted none of us ever eat Panda Express. It stuck, and we never really went out, so the temptation wasn't there. Going to a restaurant for a meal was usually for a celebration or special occasion. It wasn't until I was a senior in high school that I actually ate there.

Experiencing Panda Express as an adult

rice, chicken, pork
Hannah Park

Going to Panda Express at age 18 wasn't necessarily something I was excited about. My parents had already explained and convinced me of the importance of clean eating (seriously, I get acne and become incredibly tired from too much sugar and processed food). So when I went with a friend's family, it was weird to me that they were so excited to go somewhere that was obviously a chain. But I went with it. Follow the herd, right?

From my very first bite, I wasn't fond of Panda Express. I believe I actually ended up trying to wash my mouth out with the soda. It was gross, and I knew how my body reacted to MSG (sure enough, I broke out with zits a couple days later). Overall, it was kind of a disappointing experience and the other two times I've eaten it haven't been pleasant either. My mum was 100% right.