I sometimes wonder if Panda Express would exist if it didn’t have its Orange Chicken. Despite it being one of the unhealthiest items to come out of their gigantic woks, there’s something about the lightly battered chicken that radiates a hot coal-like orange glow that makes people yearn for it, like a baby yearns for a nipple. I’m not sure what draws taste buds to it, but perhaps it is its sweet sauce; or it lacks the nuisance of vegetable or fruit chunks; or because it’s the least Asian sounding dish.
If their Orange Chicken just happens to disappear from their menu or the serving tray is currently empty and you don’t want to wait a few minutes for the wok handlers to whip up another batch of the non-authentic Chinese dish, the new Thai-inspired Panda Express SweetFire Chicken Breast makes a great replacement.
The SweetFire Chicken Breast is made up of crispy, white meat chicken with red bell peppers, sliced onions, and pineapple chunks tossed with a sweet chili sauce. Panda Express says their new dish is “an exotic fusion of flavors.” But I say it’s “an obvious fusion of a few of their existing dishes.” The breaded white meat chicken is like their Orange Chicken, red bell peppers and onions are found in their Beijing Beef, and pineapple chunks are also in their Sweet Sour Pork.
It’s like they used the Taco Bell Technique, which involves taking their existing ingredients, placing them around an empty bottle, spinning the bottle to pick ingredients, selecting enough ingredients to have a regulation orgy, putting all of those ingredients in a room and letting nature take its course.
The Sweet Fire Chicken Breast’s sweet chili sauce is quite tasty, although I wish its flavor was a bit more punchy. The sauce has red pepper flakes in it, but don’t let them fool you because they don’t make the sauce very spicy. I felt a very light burn, but I wish it was a bit spicier. I also thought the sauce’s sweetness could be kicked up a little.
The chicken was tender and crispy. The onions and bell peppers gave the dish some crunch, along with a little flavor. As for the pineapples, I always find it odd when they’re added to a heated dish, like a “Hawaiian” Pizza or Panda Express’ Sweet Sour Pork, because I think it’s weird to eat hot fruit. But the pineapples in this dish helped make up for the sauce’s lack of sweetness.
If the Pandapocalypse happens and Orange Chicken is taken away, don’t fret my fake Chinese food loving friends, because the tasty Panda Express SweetFire Chicken Breast will satisfy your hunger for a sweet crispy chicken dish that’s just as unhealthy as Orange Chicken.
(Nutritional Facts – 5.8 ounces – 440 calories, 18 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 370 milligrams of sodium, 53 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 27 grams of sugar and 17 grams of protein.)
Item: Panda Express SweetFire Chicken Breast
Price: $6.50 (2 choice plate)
Size: 5.8 ounces
Purchased at: Panda Express
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Tasty sweet chili sauce. Contains vegetables, which give the dish a crunch. Makes a nice replacement for Orange Chicken.
Cons: I wish the sweet chili sauce was a bit spicier. Pineapples seem weird in the dish. The Pandapocalypse. Just as unhealthy as Orange Chicken. An obvious fusion of a few of their existing dishes. The Taco Bell Technique for creating new dishes.