QUICK REVIEW: Panda Express Orange Chicken with Bacon

Panda Express Orange Chicken with Bacon

Purchased Price: $7.89 for 2-entree plate, plus 50 cent upcharge
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Panda Express
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Does bacon make Panda Express’ Orange Chicken better? Yes. Applewood-smoked bacon pieces are thick and their smoky and salty flavor goes well with the sweet orange sauce. I received more pieces of bacon than pieces of chicken (your servings may vary). Orange Chicken exterior remains slightly crispy even after being drenched with sauce and sitting in a tray for a while.
Cons: 50 cent upcharge for it. Its color is lighter than their Orange Chicken and it has a slightly milder flavor than their regular Orange Chicken, but the chicken gets easily stuck between my molars like their Orange Chicken. Panda Express says it’s spicy, but I’ve never considered their Orange Chicken to be spicy. Has almost double the sodium and saturated fat than regular Orange Chicken. Bacon not crispy, but what should I expect for bacon that’s been drenched with sauce and sitting in a tray for a while.

Nutrition Facts: 510 calories, 240 calories from fat, 27 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 1020 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 19 grams of sugar, 0 grams of fiber, and 21 grams of protein.

QUICK REVIEW: Panda Express Golden Szechuan Fish

Panda Express Golden Szechuan Fish

Purchased Price: $9.57 (2-entree plate with premium)
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Panda Express
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: It’s Panda Express’ first fish product that’s been rolled out nationwide (They’ve been testing other fish dishes over the past few years). Tender, flaky fish with a pleasant fishy flavor. Sugar peas were crispy. Made with 100 percent wild-caught North Pacific Cod. Edges of battered fish were still crispy even though it was sitting in sauce on the drive home.
Cons: Having to pay a $1.25 premium for it; doesn’t taste like it’s worth the additional cost. Szechuan sauce tastes watered down and is more spicy than flavorful. The fish itself has a stronger flavor than the sauce. Ugh…Enough with the red bell peppers; it seems like it’s in 75 percent of Panda’s entrees.

Panda Express Golden Szechuan Fish Closeup

Nutrition Facts: 320 calories, 140 calories from fat, 15 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 450 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 13 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of protein.

QUICK REVIEW: Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken Breast

Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken Breast

Purchased Price: $7.89 (2-entree meal)
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Panda Express
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Nice mild, sweet honey flavor with a little bit of sesame. Crispy exterior on the chicken breast strips. Great replacement if they’ve run out of Orange Chicken or Sweetfire Chicken Breast, or if you’re sick of Orange Chicken or Sweetfire Chicken Breast. Not as cloying as Orange Chicken.
Cons: The vegetables weaken the flavor of the entree; the sauce’s flavor doesn’t seem to stick to the vegetables. Some of the chicken breast strips were too thin and the chicken in them were dried out. Yellow bell pepper were probably included for their color. I thought the string beans were asparagus.

Nutrition Facts: 5.3 oz – 420 calories 200 calories from fat, 22 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 480 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 16 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Panda Express Shanghai Angus Steak

Panda Express Shanghai Angus Steak

With menu items like Beijing Beef and their new Shanghai Angus Steak, it’s safe to say Panda Express likes using alliteration and Chinese locations in their entree names, so I’m hoping the next item that pops up on Panda’s menu is Canton Chicken Feet.

If you’re a Chinese cuisine expert, or read Wikipedia entries about Chinese cuisine for 15 minutes, you would know Shanghai is not known at all for steak. Instead, Shanghai, one of the most populated cities in the world, is known for two other foods that begin with the letter S: seafood and stinky tofu. While I could see Shanghai Shrimp being served at Panda Express, I don’t think most American palates and olfactory organs could handle stinky tofu.

But back to Panda Express’ new Shanghai Angus Steak, which consists of thick slices of Angus Top Sirloin marinated with Asian seasonings, asparagus, mushrooms, and Panda’s new zesty Asian steak sauce.

PanEx wasn’t kidding when they said on their website that this entree has “thick cut slices” of Angus steak. (Yes, I’m going to start calling Panda Express, PanEx, like I call American Express, AmEx. Be one of the cool kids and do the same.) Look at the photo above. Then look at the photo below. Some of those chunks are the size of baby limbs.

Baby limbs!

Panda Express Shanghai Angus Steak Closeup

And they’re also as tender as I imagine baby limbs to be. Occasionally, there was some connective tissue or something else, which made part of the meat a little tough, but 98 percent of the time the thick steak slices were easy to chew. The Angus steak also has a nice flavor that wasn’t overwhelmed by the dish’s sauce, which I’ll talk more about in a moment.

The mushroom slices were also substantial. Their size made me wonder if any Smurfs are now homeless. As for the asparagus, the stalks were chopped into one inch pieces, but there weren’t any asparagus tips in the two Shanghai Angus Steak servings I purchased. The “zesty Asian steak sauce” tastes like a light teriyaki sauce with a slight kick at the back end. I could’ve done without the zesty part, but the rest of the sauce was pleasant and, again, it didn’t drown the flavor of the steak.

The Shanghai Angus Steak isn’t as tasty as PanEx’s Beijing Beef, but it’s significantly healthier. A serving of Beijing Beef has 690 calories, 40 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, and 890 milligrams of sodium, while a serving of Shanghai Angus Steak has 220 calories, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, and 910 milligrams of sodium.

Just like when you order a shrimp entree at PanEx, you have to pay an extra dollar for the Shanghai Angus Steak. Is it worth it? I say yes.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 serving – 220 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 910 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 21 grams of protein.)

Item: Panda Express Shanghai Angus Steak
Price: $9.69 (2-entree plate)
Size: 2-entree plate
Purchased at: Panda Express
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Baby limb-sized slices of Angus steak. Huge mushrooms. Tender steak. Pleasant Asian steak sauce. One of the healthier items on the menu. Good source of protein. Calling Panda Express, PanEx.
Cons: Not as tasty as Beijing Beef. Zesty part of sauce seemed unnecessary. Charging an extra dollar per serving. Around for a limited time. Not as tasty as Orange Chicken. Stinky tofu. Homeless Smurfs.

REVIEW: Panda Express Garlic Lover’s Chicken Breast

Panda Express Garlic Lover's Chicken Breast

I might be one of the few people on Earth who eats the fortune cookie before digging into a styrofoam takeout tray of Panda Express food. I prefer to know my fortune before knowing what faux Chinese food tastes like just in case I get a fortune that says, “You have paid for this meal, but get ready to pay for it again.”

During my latest visit to Panda Express to pick up their new Garlic Lover’s Chicken Breast, I received an extra fortune cookie. After opening each cookie and reading their fortunes, I wondered if one of them was trying to tell me something.

The first one said, “Your warmth radiates on those around you.” It was a fortune I received before, and I didn’t think anything of it. However, the second one said, “People in your background will be more cooperative than usual.”

That fortune made me wonder if the amount of garlic in Panda Express’ new entree would make the people in my background be more cooperative than usual because the people in my foreground are frozen by my garlic breath.

Along with a vampire-repelling amount of minced garlic, Panda Express’ Garlic Lover’s Chicken Breast also includes broccoli, red bell peppers, baby corn, white meat chicken, and a savory black bean sauce. However, despite what appears to be a cockblocking amount of garlic, the dish isn’t as garlicky as I would like.

But, there’s enough garlic to make baby corn taste better. Although, there’s not enough garlic in the world to make them less creepy to eat. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something weird about eating undeveloped corn. It’s like the vegetable equivalent of balut. It doesn’t even taste like any corn I’ve had, and I’ve had it cobbed, canned, creamed, and sold to me in popped form in a movie theater for seven dollars a bag.

The black bean sauce wasn’t noticeable and I didn’t even know it existed until I did some research for this review. To be honest, if this entree is supposed to be for garlic lovers, it should have some kind of garlic sauce. As for the rest of the dish, the broccoli is always a welcomed addition because it makes me think I’m eating something healthy, the red bell peppers were just there for color, and if you’ve had Panda Express’ Mushroom Chicken, then you know what the chicken’s texture is like.

Personally, I wish this dish was call Breast Lover’s Garlic Chicken, because that would make me giggle like a 12 year old boy. Overall, I thought the Garlic Lover’s Chicken Breast was decent, but I don’t see myself ordering it again because the amount of garlic flavor it has doesn’t make me feel like its aroma would radiate on those around me.

(Nutrition Facts – 5.8 ounces – 180 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 790 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 17 grams of protein.)

Other Panda Express Garlic Lover’s Chicken Breast reviews:
An Immovable Feast

Item: Panda Express Garlic Lover’s Chicken Breast
Price: $6.59
Size: 2-entree
Purchased at: Panda Express
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Broccoli. Lots of garlic pieces. Good source of protein. Corn on the cob. Panda Express’ Orange Chicken.
Cons: Despite the amount of garlic pieces, it wasn’t garlicky enough for me. Baby corn freaks me out. Black bean sauce wasn’t noticeable. Balut. Getting fortune cookies that warn you about the Chinese food you just ate/are about to eat.

REVIEW: Panda Express Golden Treasure Shrimp

Panda Express Golden Treasure Shrimp

When I think of treasure, naturally, I think of pirates. There is such a strong, fundamental connection between massive hidden hauls of loot and buccaneering that it can be difficult to envision anything else. So you can understand my hesitation to associate pirates with panda bears when I first heard about Panda Express’s newest entry, Golden Treasure Shrimp.

As adorable as pandas in pirate costumes may be, I am tired of pirates. Like so many other North Americans who have been assailed by three (soon to be four) Pirates of the Caribbean films of gradually decreasing quality, numerous high-profile news stories of Somali pirate attacks, several thousand Captain Morgan commercials, and countless Captain Jack Sparrow Halloween costumes, I am so deep in the throes of Pirate Exhaustion that I didn’t want to experience anything pirate-y again for a while. But, by the Beard of Barbarossa, the Golden Treasure Shrimp demands a pirate-speak review. CURSES! Here goes nothing:

Avast ye mateys! Golden Treasure Shrimp ’tis representin’ an improv’ment upon th’ texture and flavor o’ Panda Express’s other tempura shrimp dish, Honey Walnut Shrimp. Accordin’ to th’ proud pronouncements on their site, Golden Treasure Shrimp be a “succulent tempura shrimp, wok tossed with fresh bell peppers in a zesty citrus sauce.”

Arrrr… ‘Tis true, th’ sauce be zesty, but that’s due in no small part t’ its spiciness, which be an unexpected and pleasant surprise. Since th’ coatin’ be so similar t’ PE’s SweetFire Chicken’s sweet chili sauce, I wonder why th’ scalawags dinnae just call th’ new dish SweetFire Shrimp. While only a wee bit citrus-y, th’ sauce has a bold flavor ‘n a nice “lip spiciness” that provides enough heat t’ make it interestin’ without becomin’ too overpowerin’ or painful. A smart sip of grog should cure what’ever lingerin’ heat ails ya.

Panda Express Golden Treasure Shrimp Closeup

Bein’ a lubber o’ tempura-style anythin’, I was pleased t’ find th’ Golden Treasure Shrimp’s batter was crispy despite o’ th’ fact that it be drenched in tangy sauce. However, if let sit for a while, I imagine th’ batter would smartly become soggy. Good thin’ I dinnae wait. Th’ tempura coatin’ be a wee bit heavy ‘n leaves a touch o’ residue on th’ tongue, since it be a tad oily, but th’ shrimp itself be tender ‘n tasty, ‘n weren’t overpower’d by th’ coatin’.

Th’ only downside be th’ sparse addition o’ chopped bell peppers. There were not that many peppers in me servin’ o’ Golden Treasure Shrimp, and they be tiny pieces t’ begin with, so they hardly added t’ th’ overall presentation. But if you enjoy flecks o’ color in your food, these peppers accomplish that job. Compared t’ th’ Honey Walnut Shrimp, th’ Golden Treasure Shrimp be a nice kick in th’ britches, says I. Yeeeaaaarrr!

(Nutrition Facts – 5 ounces – 390 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 115 milligrams of cholesterol, 500 milligrams of sodium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, 16 grams of protein.)

Item: Panda Express Golden Treasure Shrimp
Price: Free sample during promotion (normally $6.57 incl. tax for a Panda Bowl)
Size: 5 ounces
Purchased at: Panda Express
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Pandas in Pirate costumes. Shrimp is tender and tasty. Hidden hauls of loot. Spicy sauce is a tasty surprise and isn’t overpowering. Tempura-style anything.
Cons: Pirate Exhaustion. Bell peppers are rather sparse. Captain Jack Sparrow. Sauce isn’t all that citrus-y. Tempura coating is heavy and a little oily. Pirate-speak.