Peacock Express serves generous portions and low prices

Generous portions, low prices and close proximity are good reasons to visit Peacock Express. The Chinese restaurant is on Pine Avenue, just minutes from campus.

As I walked into Peacock Express, I didn’t know what to expect. It was my first visit, and I decided to go since the new Chinese restaurant is so close to UNA.

Graphic Designer Michael Meigs, Student Designer Jacqueline Willis and I entered around 8:30 p.m., and I was pleasantly surprised by the bright colors, modern atmosphere and decor. Like the neon lights on the sign outside, certain counter tops and wall panels also emanated blue and green lights. The restaurant was spacious and clean, but I was surprised to only see two other parties dining.

A friendly waitress seated our group and explained the process: Guests can either order from the dinner menu or the bar. I chose the bar, where customers typically pick three food items. With so many choices, it was difficult, but I selected rice, Kung Pao chicken and seafood delight.

Since I ordered that way, I had my food immediately, which isn’t the same for the other Chinese restaurants I have frequented in Florence. Jackie, who ordered sushi from the menu, waited less than 10 minutes for her meal.

My plate was piled high with food, and I first tasted the Kung Pao chicken. It was a little spicy, which I expected, and it had an odd mixture of very small and medium-sized pieces. However, the peanuts it contained gave a nice crunchy texture, and the sauce on the chicken was flavorful, if only a little sparse. I did wish, though, that it had been warmer.

Next, I tried the yellow fried rice. I don’t think I have ever eaten fried rice with as much flavor as Peacock Express’. Not only was there more on my plate than I expected, but the seasoning was superb, and the rice seemed more like a main dish than a side.

My seafood delight contained shrimp, zucchini, crab and bell peppers. While the shrimp and vegetables were well-seasoned and cooked to perfection, I was a little disappointed in the crab. It was soft and squishy, a huge contrast to the flakiness I expected.

While I enjoyed my meal overall, Jackie said she “really loved” her variety of sushi, and Michael, who also had rice and Kung Pao chicken but chose chicken and broccoli as his third item, said he had “no complaints.”

About 10 to 15 minutes into our meal, the waitress brought our bills, and we were left alone until another waiter collected them. On one hand, we enjoyed being able to enjoy our meal without interruption. However, if we had needed a refill or other assistance, we would have had to seek it ourselves.

When we received our bills, we also had fortune cookies. Although this is customary, our occurrence was not: Michael and I had the same fortune, which said, “Never chase a dog into a dead-end alley.”

My meal, along with a free glass of water, was $6.78, tax included. I was definitely surprised by the low price, as I had felt full during the meal and still had enough leftovers to completely fill a takeout container.

Overall, I enjoyed most of my food, but I would say I usually enjoy the quality of Rice Box’s cuisine more. The cost is comparable, but I don’t think I have ever received as much food at other Florence Chinese restaurants as I did at Peacock Express for under $7. For that, and its close proximity to UNA, I would definitely go again but probably skip the seafood.