It is easy to find small take-out and mainstream fast food Asian imitation joints throughout the San Fernando valley sullying the name of authentic Asian cuisine, but Pagoda Inn off of Rinaldi Street is truly in a league of its own.
Pagoda Inn, specializing in Mandarin and Szechewan styles of Chinese cuisine, has been open since the mid 80s and all that time run and operated by the Cheng family.
One might first overlook the unimposing Pagoda Inn next to the large Wholefoods Market and large Z Pizza chain, but on closer look a uniqueness stands out.
All the stores in the center have brick storefronts, with the exception of Pagoda Inn, who has a pine wood theme, which bleeds over into the restaurant itself.
Inside, the hustle and bustle of market-goers changes into a very calm and relaxing scene of the fancy, family dining.
The room is dimly lighted by hand painted paper lanterns on the roof and an assortment of house lights, as well as decorated by cherry wood dining chairs set around white cloth covered tables.
The clean, white walls are adorned with Asian landscape paintings and calligraphy drawings.
The restaurant also hold an old fashion bar, similar to one expected to be seen in the typical 50s American household.
Calm, romantic piano compositions play over the restaurant’s sound system.
Once you are settled, an attentive and helpful waiting staff comes to your service with your menus, ready to take drink orders.
The menu holds a variety of meal options, differentiated by lunch to dinner sections, as well as sections devoted to specific ingredients such as seafood, pork, beef, poultry, vegetables, and an extensive healthy selections section.
Opening at 11:30am, service starts with lunch, but there is little disappointment to be had.
The lunch menu is served until 4pm and is a much better deal than you’d find at any imitation Asian cuisine restaurant of the likes of Panda Express.
Lunch varies from $5.95 to $8.95 and comes with your choice of Egg drop soup or hot and sour soup.
The first selection on the menu is quite possibly the most tasty: Kung Pao chicken($5.95).
The Kung Pao chicken is made with chewy, tender dark meat bits along with crunchy roasted peanuts, wonderful water chestnuts that explode with flavor, and small grilled red peppers that pack a major punch, all drizzled in a thick, tantalizing mandarin sauce.
On the side of the whopping pile of chicken you receive, there is a pile of perfectly prepared rice, not too sticky and not too dry, a slaw-like salad that has a wonderfully orangey sweet flavor to it that would make a lover of even the slaw intolerant, and an orange wedge to top it off.
The dinner menu is equally as yummy, but higher priced, from $9.95 to $26.95.
Try the chicken in curry sauce(10.95).
You’re instantly hit with a wave of the wonderful curry spices upon receiving this dish. The white chicken meat slices are scrumptiously tender, which plays off of the crunchy green pepper, grilled onion, carrot mix, all enveloped in a lovely dark yellow curry sauce.
I recommend putting your side of rice in the dish to give the sauce a bit more texture.
To top off your meal, have a dessert for $2 to $3.95.
I advise trying the lychee on the rocks.
This dish is chilled lynchee fruit on a bed of ice, which have the texture of olives, but a light sweet flowery flavor that brings melons to the mind.
Lastly, the meal is ended with a fortune cookie.
When you come to Pagoda Inn, make sure you bring an empty stomach, as you should expect some heavy portions.
Location: 19348 Rinaldi St
Northridge, CA 91326
Hours- Monday to Thursday,
Sunday 11:30am – 9:30p.m.
Friday to Saturday 11:30am – 10pm