My parents live in Vegas and my mom loves buffet brunches. After years of trying almost every brunch on (and off) the Strip, we’ve narrowed the field down to a few that are good and worth the price. Three favorites are Bellagio, Crave at Mirage, and Bally’s Sterling Brunch. More often than not, though, it’s Crave on Saturday and Bally’s on Sunday. Wide availability of buffets in Vegas, however, means that to get her to visit us here I have to find something comparable for a Sunday brunch. We have plenty of good brunch menus, but it’s hard to find a good buffet that doesn’t cost $40 a person.
The Brunch Master has a wonderfully comprehensive of Sunday brunches (both menu and buffet) and he keeps it pretty well updated. I went through his list of buffet brunches, narrowed it down by cost and apparent quality, and ended up looking at Panda Inn. Yes, it’s owned by the same company that owns Panda Express, but this restaurant at the top of Horton Plaza is actually pretty good. I’d say it’s almost like going to PF Chang’s or maybe a more upscale Chin’s. We actually went for dinner a couple times before ending up at the brunch. Whichever time you do go, don’t miss the walnut shrimp or the tea-smoked duck.
The brunch items at Panda Inn actually change between weeks. There are staples, though, like the walnut shrimp, chicken lettuce cups, green beans, and scallops (although the scallops are always prepared different, but they’re still there). The last few times we’ve been there, the duck has been available for tucking into crepes. One time they had fresh tuna sashimi and it was so good; our last visit this wasn’t there. Whatever items you find, though, the food is good, constantly replenished and you will walk out of there very full.
Brunch is $20 a person, includes champagne and egg drop soup or hot and sour soup, and most beverages. We had duck, duck and mango salad, crispy wontons, crispy beef, lettuce cups, walnut shrimp, scallops in black bean sauce, green beans, Singapore noodles, fish wrapped in banana leaves, sweet and pungent chicken, shrimp, egg rolls, chocolate covered strawberries, melon, and fried bananas. And don’t forget the white chocolate dipped fortune cookies!
Seriously, my mom won’t visit unless the Panda Inn brunch is on our schedule. She’s already trying to figure out how to get from the airport to Horton Plaza by bus, I think so she can sneak in to the brunch without telling us she’s in town!