REVIEW: Panda Express Beyond Orange Chicken

Panda Express Beyond Orange Chicken Top

I have not eaten my weight in Panda Express’ Orange Chicken, and moments of my life were used to calculating whether I did. But I’ve eaten so much of it that I can instantly tell Panda Express’ faux fowl Beyond Orange Chicken doesn’t taste EXACTLY like the real deal.

But I felt that was going to be the case before trying the new entree because I’ve eaten enough plant-based chick’n/chik’n/chic’n/ch’ken/ch’k’n products to know what to expect, which is something that doesn’t taste exactly like chicken.

Panda Express Beyond Orange Chicken Exterior

It’s hard for me to explain the flavor of the plant-based meat in this entree. It’s not poultry-like, but I don’t find it unappealing. The Orange Chicken sauce is the same sweet stuff with a slight kick that made Panda Express what it is today. I’ve always thought that it’s so tasty that it would go great with any fried animal or plant-based protein, and that’s the case with Beyond Orange Chicken.

However, while I like this and would eat it again, its overall flavor doesn’t convince me it’s as craveable as the original, which is what the Panda Express website claims. But if you’re into plant-based meats, it’s definitely worth a try.

Panda Express Beyond Orange Chicken Finger Heart

While I don’t find the entree’s flavor odd, its appearance is a little weird. Unlike the various piece sizes of the O.G.O.C., Beyond Orange Chicken are uniform and look like Beyond Meat’s attempt to recreate BTS’ finger hearts in faux-meat form.

Panda Express Beyond Orange Chicken Innards

The interior looks tofu adjacent, and the off-white spots in the “meat” look peculiar. Although my issues with the spots might be the result of looking at way too much sci-fi anime and manga. The protein’s texture reminds me of slightly dried up tofu (UPDATE: I’m eating leftovers and they now remind me more of a chicken nugget), and while the exterior has some crispiness, it’s more like a Chicken McNugget than the original Orange Chicken’s breading.

Much like Panda Express’ steak and shrimp entrees, Beyond Orange Chicken has a premium upcharge. Because of that higher price, not being as delicious as the original, and being a limited time offering, I don’t think I’ll ever come close to eating my weight in it.

Purchased Price: $15.90
Size: Large a la carte container
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (4.75 oz) 440 calories, 22 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 810 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Panda Express Crispy Almond Chicken Breast

Panda Express Crispy Almond Chicken Breast Top

What is Panda Express Crispy Almond Chicken Breast?

According to Panda Express, the entree “features large, juicy all-white meat chicken breaded with our crunchy, signature puffed-rice breading that is wok-tossed with toasted almonds & freshly chopped green onions in a savory garlic soy sauce.”

How is it?

It tastes like it was inspired by Korean fried chicken, and if for some reason oranges go extinct and Panda Express can no longer offer its signature dish, this could easily replace it for me. Yes, it’s Orange Chicken-level delicious.

If you’ve never had Korean fried chicken, well then, stop reading this and go try some because it’s super good. But, if that’s not possible, go read all the recipes Google spits out and make your own. If that’s not possible, add it to your food bucket list with a note that says, “Bring moist towelettes.”

Panda Express Crispy Almond Chicken Breast Chopstick

The thick dark colored garlic soy sauce that fills every nook and cranny in the breading is not as sweet as previous Panda Express sauces, but nevertheless, it delights my savory side. The soy sauce stands out a little bit more than the garlic, and if not for a slight sweetness, the sauce might’ve been a bit too salty.

Panda Express Crispy Almond Chicken Breast Meat

The coating has a satisfying crunch to it, and for the most part, doesn’t get soggy from the sauce. The white meat chicken was tender, although some pieces I received seemed to be mostly batter.

Oh, some Korean fried chicken recipes are spicy, but these definitely aren’t.

So what about the almonds? They provide some added texture and allow Panda Express to put the word “almond” in its name, but they don’t add any flavor. I think they’re mostly there to prevent this from looking like other crispy Panda Express chicken dishes.

Anything else you need to know?

When I first heard about this product, I thought, “Wow. Panda Express created a crunchy coating using almonds.” But as you read in the description above, it’s a puffed-rice breading.

Also, do you know what would’ve been cool to offer with this, Panda Express? If someone orders the Crispy Almond Chicken Breast, they should be given a Chinese almond cookie instead of the usual fortune cookie. SYNERGY, Panda Express!!! SYNERGY!!! Am I using that correctly, businesspeople?

Conclusion:

Panda Express Crispy Almond Chicken Breast Almond

Like Amazon shipping box sizes, the number of sauced and boneless crispy chicken dishes that Panda Express has offered over the years is vast. The folks in its test kitchens know how to make them delicious, and this new Crispy Almond Chicken Breast proves that once again.

Purchased Price: $10.90
Size: Large à la carte container
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (5.5 oz) 470 calories, 24 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 960 milligrams of sodium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 23 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Panda Express Black Pepper Angus Steak

Panda Express Black Pepper Angus Steak

What is Panda Express’ Black Pepper Angus Steak?

The premium entree with a premium price features Angus steak with baby broccoli, onions, red bell peppers, and mushrooms in a savory black pepper sauce.

I got it as part of the $20 Family Meal online promotion that Panda Express is offering, which is $25 here on this rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

I also got it delivered through DoorDash, tipped the Dasher $5, and, because it’s a premium entree, the Black Pepper Angus Steak added another $4.50. So it was less of a deal for me. But if you do takeout, this $20 deal is THE BEST (even at $25), and I think it should stick around for longer than April 17.

Did you hear, um, read me, Panda Express!

How is it?

I’ve consumed a lot of different black pepper-flavored products over the years, and every single one of them had a bold black pepper flavor, which is what I was expecting with this. So I’m surprised by the mild usage of the seasoning in the sauce.

Panda Express Black Pepper Angus Steak Meat

While chewing on forkfuls of tender Angus steak pieces, veggies, and savory sauce, there was one word I couldn’t get out of my head: pizza.

Yes, that’s an odd word to put in a Panda Express review and the taste isn’t always there. Maybe it’s my subconscious telling me I should eat pizza instead of Panda. I dunno. But the combination of the savory sauce and tender Angus steak pieces starts off a little peppery and then it morphs into a flavor that’s like the Italian sausage on a pizza. Also, I feel the crunchy bell peppers and onions maybe help push the flavor in my mind.

Look, the whole pizza thing is weird, but despite that, I love it. It’s my new favorite Panda Express Angus steak entree, and I hope it sticks around.

Did you hear, um, read me, Panda Express!

Is there anything else you need to know?

Panda Express Black Pepper Angus Steak Baby Broccoli

I didn’t know baby broccoli was a thing. Baby carrots? Yes. Baby corn? Yes. Baby bok choy? Yes. Also, while I’m on a baby vegetable tangent, I think Brussels sprouts should be renamed to baby cabbages.

The baby broccoli’s size varies from infant to toddler. The thin infant ones are adorable, but the thicker ones look as if some watercress walked into the wok somehow.

Conclusion:

Although its flavor reminds me of Italian sausage and pizza, I think Panda Express’ Black Pepper Angus Steak that doesn’t taste like it has a lot of black pepper is worth the premium price.

Purchased Price: $25 (as part of special $25 Family Meal deal)
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (5.10 oz) 180 calories, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 750 milligrams of sodium, 10 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 19 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Panda Express Sichuan Hot Chicken

Panda Express Sichuan Hot Chicken

Panda Express’ Sichuan Hot Chicken is its take on crispy chicken strips, which seem to be all the rage with fast food chains nowadays. The entree is breaded all-white meat chicken tossed in a spicy Sichuan peppercorn sauce and dusted with a secret spice blend.

It’s easily the crunchiest chicken item on the menu, although that texture is on the edges of the pieces where the coating is a bit thicker. The chicken within the breading of the strips I received was juicy. Of course, your results may vary because of someone who was overzealous with the wok tossing.

The sauce isn’t sticky like Orange Chicken or gloopy like what’s on mushroom chicken. Instead, it’s an oil-based sauce with the spices swimming in it. Panda’s Sichuan peppercorn sauce with the secret spice blend is savory, peppery, spicy, a smidge citrusy, and pretty darn good.

Panda Express Sichuan Hot Chicken Make it Spicy

But it’s even better when you “Make it Spicy,” which is an option you have while ordering. If you do, your chicken will get sprinkled with an extra dose of the secret spice blend, which gives the breading an ominous look and amps up the heat AND flavor. To me, the added seasoning makes the standard Sichuan Hot Chicken pieces seem kind of bland. When I order this again, I’ll definitely “Make it Spicy.”

While the word “hot” is in its name, the regular Sichuan Hot Chicken isn’t what I would call “hot.” There’s a burn that slowly builds up to a mild level, but it doesn’t have me reaching for a soothing beverage. The “Make it Spicy” pieces are noticeably hotter, but it’s still not enough to make me want to shovel Panda’s fried rice into my mouth to relieve the burning. Also, whatever heat there is doesn’t linger for long.

Panda Express Sichuan Hot Chicken Side by Side

My biggest issue with this entree deals with size. The pieces aren’t uniform. As you can see in the photo above, the ones on the left, which is a three-piece order of the standard Sichuan Hot Chicken, are dramatically smaller than the ones on the right, which is a three-piece order of the ones made spicy. Looking at those three small pieces on my styrofoam plate, I can’t help but think I’m getting ripped off a little. But if I got three of the ones on the right or more of the smaller pieces, I’d feel a bit better.

Panda Express Sichuan Hot Chicken Innard

Sichuan Hot Chicken is another yummy sauced chicken selection from Panda Express. The Sichuan peppercorn sauce and secret spice blend are tasty, but they’re not quite good enough to make this limited-time menu item Orange Chicken-tastic or Beijing Beef-abulous.

Purchased Price: $9.20 (2-entree plate)
Size: 3-piece serving
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (3 pieces) 400 calories 26 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 910 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 19 grams of protein.

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QUICK REVIEW: Panda Express Peking Pork

Panda Express Peking Pork 1

Panda Express’ new Peking Pork is everything I wish the chain’s original Sweet & Sour Pork was years ago — breaded pork, onions, and green bell peppers in a sweet and sour sauce, without hot pineapples.

Because hot pineapple is THE WORST!

But, oddly, hot acidic fruit chunks didn’t stop me from choosing the chain’s Sweet & Sour Pork when it was available. I’d just move the fruit to the side, eat the rest of the entree, and then, after they’ve cooled down, let my fortune cookie’s fortune decide their fate.

“Treat yourself to something of quality.” Trash the pineapple.

“Stop searching forever, happiness is next to you.” Eat the pineapple.

“Keep your expectations reasonable.” Trash the pineapple.

“You will find hidden treasures where least expected.” Eat the pineapple.

The Peking Pork’s breaded pork chop pieces remind me of Chicken McNuggets, but thinner. I don’t know how long the batch I ate from sat before being served to me, but the breading didn’t have a crispy texture thanks to thick, goopy sauce around each breaded piece. The pork itself is a bit dry and firmer than any of Panda Express’ chicken dishes, but it’s still easy to chew.

Panda Express Peking Pork 2

It’s been awhile since I had Panda Express’ Sweet & Sour Pork, so I don’t exactly remember what it tastes like. But I feel as if the Peking Pork’s sauce is less sour, which I don’t mind. It’s tastes great, but because it’s sweet, it kind of reminds me of other Panda Express dishes. Cutting through the sauce’s sugariness are the onions and bell peppers, which also add a bit of crunch that I wish the breading provided.

Overall, Panda Express’ Peking Pork is tasty addition to the chain’s lineup of sweet sauce dishes. Sadly, the hot pineapple-less sweet & sour pork dish I’ve always wanted from Panda Express is only available for a limited time.

Purchased Price: $10.70
Size: Large Entree Container
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (5.6 oz. serving) 400 calories, 180 calories from fat, 20 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 960 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 19 grams of sugar, 20 grams of protein.