Panda Express’ opening in the Philippines has us craving for orange chicken

October 1, 2018 - 4:55 PM
Orange chicken being tossed in the wok with sweet chili sauce. (Facebook/Panda Express)

Filipinos are very excited for the opening of famous American-Chinese restaurant Panda Express after a local fastfood chain announced that they have established a joint venture to bring it to the Philippines.

Jollibee Foods Corp. said that it has formed a partnership with Panda Restaurant Group Inc. to bring Panda Express into the local market.

The California-based restaurant is internationally recognized for its signature tangy original orange chicken, sweetfire chicken breast, award-winning honey walnut shrimp, Shanghai Angus steak and zesty Beijing beef.

They also offer traditional Chinese meals like spicy kung pao chicken and savory broccoli beef.

Their social media announcement brought excitement to Filipinos who quickly expressed their elation over Panda Express’ opening and recalled the restaurant’s signature dish.

A look at the signature dish 

Panda Express is internationally recognized for its orange chicken, which was believed to have been created by former executive chef Andy Kao in 1987 when the restaurant opened in Hawaii.

It is a dark meat fried chicken that is lightly battered and fried. Meanwhile, its sauce boasts a perfect balance of the sweet and sour flavors of brown sugar, honey, Chinese black vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, crushed chili and others.

The fresh orange-like taste is achieved by extracting oils found in orange peels.

Orange chicken is famous for its flavorful balance of sweet and sour. (Flickr/Candy Beauchamp)

Chef Jimmy Wang, director of culinary innovation at Panda Express, shared that the orange chicken is “probably one of the most genius creation in the past 30 years.”

He said, “It’s taking everything that we love — crispy fried chicken, tossed with savory sweet and sour sauce that really hits all the senses and taste buds in your mouth.”

The creation of the orange chicken was not accidental. It turned out that Chef Kao was looking for a dish that “spoke out for Panda in terms of being from California originally.”

California produces around $1 billion worth of citrus per year, making it a natural part of the dish as a flavoring.

Panda Express CEO and co-founder Andrew Cherng revealed that Kao was inspired by the flavors from Hunan Province in China. The province’s cuisine is known for its hot and spicy flavors, fresh aroma and deep colors.

Cherng also noted that the orange chicken is actually a variation of another favorite, General Tso’s chicken. It is a sweet, deep-fried chicken dish that is covered in chili-spiked sweet-and-sour sauce. It was specifically adapted for American palates.

According to reports, more than 50 percent of Panda Express’ orders include orange chicken. The restaurant chain sells 70 million pounds every year.