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Fast Food Restaurants

Panda Express Is Testing Out Pastrami Bao Buns At Their Innovation Kitchen

It seems Panda Express has been tinkering more and more with fusing flavors of Eastern dishes with Western comfort foods as of late. A few months back, the chain introduced a new protein that combined the traditional flavors of Sichuan peppercorns with the Southern heat of Nashville Hot Chicken.

In what appears to be a delicious trend, Panda Express has announced another new flavor combination that’s hitting their Innovation Kitchen in Pasadena, CA. Feast your eyes on the Pastrami Bao Buns.

The new item combines the popular Taiwanese street food of Pork Belly Bao Buns with the classic American deli staple the Pastrami Sandwich. Pork Belly is slow cooked, Hickory liquid smoked, blended with pastrami spices, and topped with pickled cucumbers before going inside an airy bao bun. Finally, the dish is slathered with a sweet and savory sauce to bring it all together.

Be still my pastrami-loving belly.

You can find this item only at the Panda Express Innovation Kitchen in Pasadena, CA. If popular enough, we can expect to see the Pastrami Bao Buns arrive at restaurants on a national scale. Until then, I’ll need to find some time on my calendar to drive out and try the new dish.

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Culture Fast Food Restaurants

Panda Express Debuting Sichuan Hot Chicken Nationwide

Both Sichuan and Nashville Hot chicken have been iconic dishes in their own cultures respectively. Boasting a sweet and fiery heat with each bite, the flavors from two different corners of the world have always stood apart, especially in the world of fast food. Though it looks like that time’s come to an end.

The latest original recipe from Panda Express, Sichuan Hot Chicken draws from classic Sichuan-style spices paired with one of the United States’ favorite comfort dishes: Nashville Hot Chicken.

What results is a flavorful marriage of heat and heartiness in the form of a crispy breaded white meat chicken strip.

Head of Culinary Innovation, Chef Jimmy Wang, helped bring forth this culinary union after a trip to Chengdu, China, bringing back the aromatic flavors of tingling Sichuan peppercorns to combine with the spice blends that make up the fundamental identity of Nashville Hot Chicken.

Our boys in the field Richard Guinto and Constantine Spyrou were some of the first ever to try this new fusion of flavors, even having it served in burrito form:

Panda Express’ Sichuan Hot Chicken debuts at all restaurant locations nationwide on July 17, and will run for about 10 weeks or while supplies last.

Note: The pickles featured in our imagery can only be found at Panda Express + Tea Bar locations. The Sichuan Hot Chicken will be served without them at the majority of their locations. 

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Fast Food Opinion

The Top 10 Fast Food Seafood Items Across The USA, Ranked

Fast food seafood has gotten a bad rap over the years, and it’s easy to understand why. Nobody ever put respect on fish’s name, leaving their sole pescatarian option to be overcooked, mushy, and not too pleasant.

Times have changed, though, and with that, the quality of the industry’s fishy fare has shot up. Whether it be whole fish filets or irresistible pieces of shrimp, there’s a lot more being offered than before. The fish sandwich may still dominate, but it’s gone from being overlooked to getting a ton of attention.

These are the best of what fast food seafood has to offer, from timeless fish sandwiches to seafood staples that could dominate for years to come.

When making this list, only items from major fast food chains were looked at and ranked on quality, popularity, and flavor. There will be some big names not on this list (sorry, Ronald), but that’s just indicative of how some newer chains have risen to the challenge and created seafood items that are just… well, better.

10) Tuna Pie, Jollibee

 

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The fried chicken icon of the Philippines is no one-trick pony, as its entire menu is straight fire. When it comes to seafood, it’s a little harder to find at the Bee, but this Lenten LTO is the best they have to offer. While the fact that it’s basically canned tuna in a cream sauce makes it less appealing, you have to appreciate its zesty, peppery flavor, and flaky pastry crust.

9) North Atlantic Cod Sandwich, Culver’s

 

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To make it on this list as a standard fish sandwich, you need to get some basics right: a crispy exterior, intriguing fillings, and a well-cooked piece of fish. Culver’s hits on all of those marks, with the mixture of shredded cheese and lettuce and a light amount of tartar sauce (McDonald’s, take note) accentuating the flavors of the cod. It does need a bit more seasoning, however.

8) Fish Slider, White Castle

 

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The phrase “simple is better” definitely applies to White Castle’s Contribution to the fast food fish game. They don’t church theirs up with tartar sauce or lettuce, using just a slice of American cheese to top their Alaskan pollock. While the fish choice itself is “meh,” given how ubiquitous and overcooked pollock tends to be, their flavor is extraordinary given the slider’s size.

7) Cajun Fish Sandwich, Arby’s

 

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Arby’s would be a lot higher on this list, to be honest, if they had decided to bring back the Nashville Hot Fish Sandwich from the LTO grave. That version had a ton of kick and was a tasty contribution to the fast food game. Sure, the Cajun remoulade on this version has some zest and punch, and gives the massive filet of pollock an extra hit of flavor. It’s no Nashville Hot, though.

6) Shrimp Po’ Boy, Popeyes

Popeyes knows how to do fried shrimp proper. They’re coated with the same seasoning as Popeyes’ top-notch fried chicken, elevating the crustaceans to a new level of flavor. Add in the fact that you get a pretty generous amount per baguette-sized sandwich, and you have a satiating meal of seafood that does more than most fish sandwiches in the game even attempt to do.

5) North Pacific Cod Sandwich, Wendy’s

Who does the generic fish sandwich the best? That answer, as said by several others in the past, has to be Wendy’s. It’s something about the punchiness of their tartar sauce, how the cod is cooked decently, and how the fish has the right crunch. It’s more of a quality thing than a “we put other stuff on it” that makes their variant as good as it is. Of course, it is just your standard fish sandwich, and while it’s a damn good version of it, there’s other things out there that showcase seafood better.

4) Jumbo Shrimp Tacos, Del Taco

 

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Del Taco’s take on the Baja-style seafood taco is surprisingly solid. The shrimp are coated with just the right amount of seasoning, and the crisp lettuce and tomato offset it perfectly in terms of contrasting textures. The white sauce and fresh lime on top elevate this option into the top 5, because they provide the acidic punch and creamy consistency of tartar sauce with just a fraction of its heaviness. This is my personal go-to option for a seafood snack during the Lent season.

3) 2 Cod, 6 Shrimp Platter, Long John Silver’s

 

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Those looking to treat themselves to a seafood feast need to track this down. Being one of two fast food seafood specialists in the country, Long John Silver’s knows how to give cod the appropriate TLC, keeping it crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside. The seasoning is a little too close to KFC’s, but few can compete with their batter, or the size of this platter.

2) Giant Fish Sandwich, Captain D’s

 

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In the duel of the fast food seafood specialists, Captain D’s is the people’s choice. Folks regard it as better because of its taste, and this Giant Fish Sandwich shows it off best. The fish pieces themselves are massive in terms of both length and flavor, and an appropriate amount of tartar sauce helps make this one of the most decadent sandwiches you can get in fast food. It’s better than its fishy rival and arguably the best fast food seafood item out there… save for one that honestly, nobody even comes close to touching.

1) Honey Walnut Shrimp, Panda Express

 

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Cue the Thanos snap. Seriously, watching the rest of the fast food seafood game compare to Panda’s signature shrimp is like watching the Avengers trying to KO Marvel’s Mad Titan at the end of Infinity War. How can one compete with its sweet, savory flavor, balanced with the crunch and slight bitterness of walnuts? Nobody has been able to create something within reach yet, so until the fast food seafood universe gets its own Captain Marvel, Honey Walnut Shrimp will tower over anything else that tries to one-up it.

Categories
Fast Food Health Plant-Based

Panda Express Changes Chow Mein And Eggplant Tofu To Be Plant-Based Friendly

To be completely honest, I was about today years old when I learned that Panda Express’s plant-based options aren’t 100% vegetarian. Turns out that in the past, their chow mein and eggplant tofu, amongst other items, have included chicken broth or chicken-based seasonings inside of them, meaning while they may look meat-free at a glance, they’re not.

Moving forward, though, that won’t be the case, as Panda Express has been making changes to their menu to ensure that those items are free from animal products.

For the past few years, according to a Panda Express representative, they’ve working to eliminate animal byproducts from several of their dishes while keeping taste and quality the same. These include the chow mein, Super Greens mixed veggies, eggplant tofu, and steamed brown and white rice. Panda has been able to scale these changes to a national level, and began rolling out the new recipes in late 2018. They’ll be in all restaurants nationwide by the end of this year.

While these dishes are suited for those who live a plant-based lifestyle, Panda Express will still avoid calling them “vegan” or “vegetarian.” Since all of the dishes are cooked on the same kitchen equipment, potential exists for leftover bits of meat and animal products to intermix with the meat-free dishes.

So, while the items are technically plant-based friendly, there is no guarantee that there won’t be meat inside them. Nonetheless, it’s a huge step forward for Panda Express to begin renovating their menu to accommodate vegetarian and vegan guests better. In the future, perhaps they will be able to prevent that cross-contamination as well.

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Drinks Fast Food Restaurants

Cheesecake Cream Teas Exist And Panda Express Is Serving Them At These Exclusive Locations

It’s been a minute since we saw something pop up from Panda Express, but delicious things come to those who wait. And for those who have been clock watching, Panda’s latest addition to their summer menu is what they’re calling Cheesecake Cream Tea.

Cheese Tea is already a widely popular trend in countries like China and Thailand, and select tea houses in the United States have begun offering the rich beverage.

However, this will be the first time a major chain like Panda Express puts their own spin on it. If it’s anything like the original beverage, Panda’s Cheesecake Cream Tea will have some sort of thick whipping cream made from milk and some variety of cheese. The company describes that it will have a sweet, velvety taste.

Tea flavors include your choice of cheesecake foam over Milk Tea, Green Tea, or Black Tea.

The Cheesecake Cream Teas will be available now through Aug. 27 exclusively at Panda + Tea and the chain’s Innovation Kitchen in Pasadena, CA. While you’re there, I highly recommend pairing it with a bing wrap filled with Orange Chicken. It’s essentially an Orange Chicken Burrito.

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Fast Food Now Trending Video

Watch This Record-Breaking Competitive Eater Down The Entire Panda Express Menu In One Sitting

When I hit up Panda Express for a quick meal, a regular 2-item plate tends to fill me for the rest of the day. With that in mind, watching competitive eater Raina crush the entire Panda Express menu in just 45 minutes was absolutely mind-boggling.

Raina went with Foodbeasts Marc and Elie to Panda Express to attempt the challenge on Going In, Foodbeast’s new YouTube and Facebook Watch show. Elie and Marc got their own, more manageable meals, while Raina casually ordered everything, totalling over two trays’ worth of food. For those wondering, here is Raina’s complete order:

Sides: 1 large Chow Mein, 1 large Fried Rice

Entrees (all in small sizes):  Beijing Beef, Shanghai Angus Steak, String Bean Chicken, Honey Walnut Shrimp, Eggplant Tofu, 8 Treasure Chicken, Kung Pao Chicken, Orange Chicken, Teriyaki Chicken, Sweetfire Chicken Breast, Broccoli Beef, Mushroom Chicken, and Black Pepper Chicken

Appetizers (small order of each): Chicken Egg Rolls, Spring Rolls, Cream Cheese Rangoons

The final price of all of that food was at least $75 (it came out to just under $100 factoring in Elie and Marc’s orders). In terms of nutrition, Raina consumed a staggering 4,500 calories (not factoring in the drink). That means she ate enough to feed 2 people for an entire day in 45 minutes.

For proof of time, peep Raina’s full video of the challenge below:

What’s even crazier about Raina’s feat is that technically, this wasn’t a speedrun attempt, but a mukbang video. Throughout the entire 45 minutes, Elie and Marc were interviewing her, with topics ranging from her In-N-Out world record to chugging a gallon of water every night. Without all of those distractions going on, it’s safe to say she could’ve finished the whole Panda Express menu in an even shorter time than that.

Once the challenge was all wrapped up, Raina also ordered some takeout for the road, so she had plenty of room in her belly for another go-around. How she manages to stuff all that food in there, I will never know.

Categories
News Now Trending Video

Wong Fu And Panda Express Show Us The Hilarious Struggle Of Choosing Where to Eat Dinner [WATCH]

We’ve all been there before: The work day is wrapping up, we’re about to head home, and then an important thought crosses our mind. (Or we get a message from our significant other).

“What’s for dinner?”

Usually, that devolves into a flurry of internal conflict as we try to select where to eat our next meal. Fortunately, the comedic team over at Wong Fu Productions has come up with a simple solution.

In their latest video, the Wong Fu team comes up with a genius skit to help people decide where to go for dinner. This particular scenario features a guy deciding for his girlfriend where to go for dinner. The guy starts with a Panda Express fortune from the girlfriend’s latest dinner. However, he then twists his way through several other options before finally circling back to Panda, which is where the couple ends up. Overall, the message is that you’ll probably end up going to the place you crave most, no matter how much you debate.

Photo courtesy of Panda Express

This video is actually part of a fun campaign between Wong Fu and Panda Express that’s happening this month. We can expect two more hilarious videos from Wong Fu as a result. Additionally, Panda Express will be dropping a new item, Peking Pork, on September 27th. It’s unclear whether the sweet-and-sour pork will show up in a Wong Fu video, since it didn’t appear in the above skit. However, it’s definitely a possibility.

At any rate, it’s going to get us more funny bone-tickling skits about eating, so we can’t wait to see what else Wong Fu and Panda Express have in store for us.

Categories
Fast Food

Exclusive Panda Express Spots Are Serving Orange Chicken Burritos, Here’s Where To Find Them

A while back, folks lost it when Panda Express released an Orange Chicken “Burrito” at their Innovation Kitchen in Pasadena, CA.

The fast-casual Chinese food chain recently opened a new Panda Express + Tea Bar near our stomping grounds so we decided to swing by and grab some burritos for ourselves.

Though in actuality a “Chinese Bing” or wrap, the item effectively acts as a burrito with a thin scallion pancake acting as the tortilla. While essentially having the same core ingredients as a tortilla, there are some noticeable differences in the taste of the scallion pancake.

Panda’s new item didn’t stop at Orange Chicken. The bing acted as a canvas for us to create the most intricate of burritos, combining a plethora of different meats, starches, and sauces in a hefty wrap.

We even threw a double dose of the restaurant’s new Five Flavor Shrimp into a bing.

The Panda Express + Tea Bar, outside of the original Innovation Kitchen, is one of three restaurants that serve the “burrito” to patrons. You can’t find the item at just any Panda Express. Trust us, we’ve tried.

If burritos aren’t your thing, the Panda Express + Tea Bar also serves customizable salads — an item that isn’t offered at regular Panda Express locations.

Peep our salad diet:

Nice, right?

The Tea Bar portion of the restaurant lives up to it’s actual name. Customers can choose from a variety of different milk teas and fruit teas from the tea bar menu. Drinks are either pre-made for those who are in a hurry, or you can have a drink made to order. Beverages can be customized with add-ons like tapioca pearls, lychee jelly, aloe vera, and chia seeds.

A word of caution for new patrons, however: make sure to take in the entire menu upon your first visit. Whatever you decide to order will fill you up for the rest of the day.

Items like the Orange Chicken “Burrito,” salads, and milk teas can be found at Panda Express + Tea Bar locations (Hacienda Heights, Monterey Park, and Westwood) as well as the original Panda Express Innovation Kitchen located in Pasadena, CA.

Also, be sure to check out our Foodbeast Podcast to hear more about the burrito!