What about some oriental fast food for a change? After months of teasers and hype, America’s famous casual Chinese fast food chain is finally in the Philippines. Yes, I’m talking about Panda Express!
Panda Express started out in California as a sit-down Chinese restaurant, formerly named Panda Inn. Established by father-and-son duo Ming Tsai and Andrew Cherng, the restaurant was soon renamed to the Panda Express we all know and love, serving dishes with flavors that take inspiration from the Hunan province.
Known for their Orange Chicken— the Original Orange Chicken, that is— which was developed by Chef Andy Kao, Panda Express’ bestseller features crispy bites of chicken coated in a sweet and spicy homemade orange sauce.
Many have tried to replicate it, but this is the honest-to-goodness, original stuff you can’t get anywhere else, let me tell you!
With over 2,100 locations scattered across the world, Panda Express’ claim to fame lies not just in their Chinese menu, but also in their calorie-smart choices. Contrary to the greasy indulgence commonly associated with fast food choices, Panda Express makes everything fresh. Fresh ingredients, fresh off the wok, and fresh from the kitchen. Plus, they proudly guarantee that all dishes are 100% MSG-free!
Did I mention that they have healthy options, too? Check out their wok-smart selection, a tailor-fit meal for health conscious folk, which comes with at least 8 grams of protein and less than 300 calories a dish.
Counting calories? Panda Express makes it easier for you by indicating it in their menu, so you know what you’re eating. Now that’s something you don’t see in a fast food joint.
Like all fast food chains, the delicious offerings of Panda Express also come at affordable prices— dare I say much cheaper than its US counterpart? The Philippines’ first ever Panda Express, which was brought in by the Jollibee Foods Corp. (JFC), can be found in SM Megamall. This joint venture promises more branches in the coming years, so they can serve the highly popularized Chinese-American cuisine to Filipinos in the form of dishes made with authentic Chinese recipes suited to the global palate.
Panda Express is also known for their trademark bright red Chinese takeout box, which you can fill with your choice of sides and other entrees to build your own meal.
Choose from Single Meals, which are good for one person. Options include a Bowl (Php195), which has one entree and one side dish; a Plate (Php245) with two entrees and one side dish; or, if you’re really, really hungry, their Bigger Plate (Php295), which is fully loaded with three entrees and one side dish.
If you’re out with family, you can also get their hefty Family Feast (Php1,200), which includes three large entrees and two large sides. There’s something for the kiddos, too— a Kid’s Meal (Php180) featuring smaller portions of the entreé and side dish, paired with a 12oz drink and dessert.
Faithful to their Chinese roots, but with an American twist, Panda Express Philippines features a wide array of entree choices. These include:
Orange Chicken (490 calories)
The very dish that propelled Panda Express to fame, this signature dish features crispy bites of chicken wok-tossed in a sweet and spicy orange sauce. Don’t let the word spicy intimidate you, though. This one’s more on the sweeter side with a sticky glaze that coats each bite of fried crunchy boneless pieces of chicken.
Kung Pao Chicken (290 calories)
A little on the spicy side (but nothing you can’t handle), this Szechuan-inspired dish features a medley of soft chicken breast, peanuts, and vegetables like zucchini and bell peppers— all tossed in a spicy soy-based, syrupy sauce before being finished off with some dried chili. It’s a touch sweet and sour, but with more of a heat than the Orange Chicken, and more gingery, too.
Asian Grilled Chicken (300 calories)
A dish featuring boneless chicken thighs, the Asian Grilled Chicken is a wok-smart dish that hits the 300-calorie mark. It’s hand-sliced into strips grilled for that minimal char, and brushed all over with a sweet and tangy teriyaki sauce. Availability varies depending on location, but you’re guaranteed a plate at the SM Megamall branch!
Broccoli Beef (150 calories)
A classic loved by many, the Broccoli Beef dish is something you’ll often find in Chinese restaurants. However, the Panda Express version only has 150 calories in it! Showcasing tender pieces of beef paired with crisp pieces of broccoli, the dish is cooked in a ginger soy sauce – perfect for that meat-and-veggie balance!
Eggplant Tofu (340 calories)
Panda Express’ Eggplant Tofu is a delicately spiced stir-fry dish featuring lightly browned pieces of tofu cooked with fried eggplant and bell peppers, and tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce. If I had to rate the level of heat of Panda Express’ three bestsellers, the Orange Chicken’s spiciness is negligible, while this one comes with a touch of heat. The spiciest one (and it isn’t even the kind that burns) would have to be the Kung Pao Chicken.
The right mix of carbs to go with your viand, Panda Express’ bestselling sides include:
Chow Mein (510 calories)
Stir-fried noodles with neat and strips of vegetables like cabbage and onions all tossed together in a soy-based sauce with a touch of seasoning. It’s Chinese-style pancit canton that isn’t too salty, and filling enough so that it accompanies the entree without stealing the spotlight.
Fried Rice (520 calories)
Filipinos are rice lovers by default, and the Fried Rice of Panda Express does not disappoint when it comes to this. The stir-fried rice comes packed with minced vegetables, meat and eggs. It’s a great alternative if steamed rice is too plain for you, and a balanced meal in itself that really highlights the entree you pair it with.
To complete the Chinese-American experience that Panda Express wants to provide, make sure to grab a fortune cookie on your way out! This sugary cookie comes with a fortune inside— a positive message to really bring a smile to your face. Now isn’t that a great way to end a meal?
Panda Express will be open to the public tomorrow: Wednesday, December 12, 2019. For more details on their promos, new branches and menu items, check out their social media accounts!
Upper Ground Floor, SM Megamall A, Ortigas, Mandaluyong
Store Hours:Mondays to Sundays from 10AM to 10PM
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