Panda Express teamed up with Beyond Meat to give its signature The Original Orange Chicken a plant-based makeover.
Beyond The Original Orange Chicken is debuting July 26 at select locations in New York City and Southern California.
The Original Orange Chicken, an iconic and long-running menu item at Panda Express, features crisp pieces of fried chicken in a sweet and tangy sauce with a shot of heat. Beyond Meat created a proprietary plant-based chicken product that closely mimics the original in size, shape, texture and flavor. The pieces of vegetable protein are formed into the same size and shape and coated with a crunchy breading. When they are wok-tossed in the sauce, they absorb the flavors and become juicy.
Chef Jimmy Wong, executive director of culinary innovation for Panda Express, worked closely with Beyond Meat for over a year to develop the product. “The plant-based chicken had to be crispy to hold the sauce without getting soggy,” he said.
“As the creator of the Original Orange Chicken, Panda has significant brand equity in this staple American Chinese comfort food,” said Wong. “Creating a fresh new take on a classic favorite is a great and accessible way to introduce plant-based proteins to our guests and perhaps even drawing a new audience to Panda.”
Chef Wong dished out samples of the dish for members of the press at a New York City Panda Express location Tuesday. He also cooked up potstickers filled with ground Beyond Beef, cabbage and scallions, Mapo Eggplant Tofu with Sichuan peppercorn sauce and a brown rice combo that incorporated cauliflower rice and quinoa to demonstrate the versatility and variety of plant-based dishes on Panda’s menu.
Beyond Meat launched its plant-based chicken tenders nationwide last week, making them available on hundreds of restaurant menus, but the 2,263-unit Panda Express is the first national Asian chain to feature the company’s products.
Beyond The Original Orange Chicken will be available for a limited time, while supplies last.