- Panda Express has an Innovation Kitchen in Pasadena, CA.
- This is where they offer experimental menu items to test on their customers.
- One of their most famous offerings is an Orange Chicken Bing, aka the Orange Chicken Burrito.
The following is a transcript of the video:
Joe: This is a Panda Express location where they test out new menu items. I think I’ve only really gotten the orange chicken at Panda Express. I’ve never really gotten a lot of other things on the menu, so I’m really excited.
They’re gonna have Chef Jimmy here. He’s gonna make us a bunch of stuff that they actually offer here and only at this location and a few others. Then, who knows? Maybe I’ll suggest a few of my own. I will say that I’m very interested in this orange chicken burrito. I’ve seen it on the internet. Everyone’s doing videos about it. I think it’s a genius idea just to make a wrap of all the great stuff that they have here. Panda Express is famous for their orange chicken. So many people have gone to this very location specifically to get this orange chicken burrito. At this test kitchen, it’s one of the most popular items.
Chef: Panda Express test kitchen is where we come to experiment, innovate, and also be creative. What we like to do is leverage on some traditional Chinese principles and also some backgrounds of a regional cuisine, and once we have that as a foundation, we like to look at what’s innovative right now, what’s in trend, and then how do we collaborate between Chinese cuisine and American cuisine.
Joe: I had to ask Chef Wang about his famous orange chicken burrito.
Chef: The orange chicken burrito you’re referring to is actually our Orange Chicken Bing. Bing is actually the scallion wrap. What we wanted to do is innovate on that. How do we flatten it furthermore? How do we make it bigger, flatter, so that we can actually put everybody’s favourite food inside, wrap it up so that we can make our food portable?
Joe: Besides the Orange Chicken Wrap, the kitchen is also testing three new dishes.
Chef: Currently right now, we have the Black Pepper Angus Steak that’s currently testing here. We are also testing a Wok-Fire Shrimp, and also we’re going to have our version of hot chicken. It’s kind of our plate of Chinese and also southern Tennessee.
Joe: There’s also a Panda Tea Bar with a variety of boba teas.
Joe: We came out here to try it, so I’m going to try it right now. All right. It’s like getting everything in one bite makes it so much better. This takes their orange chicken game to the next level. Here’s what you would normally get with the orange chicken, right? You got the chicken, you got the super greens, you got the noodles. But if you want all of this right here, you’ve got to come to this test kitchen to do it. You can get anything here wrapped in a bing, which is this, like, thin scallion pancake.
Chef: This is actually inspired by Sichuan cuisines. Spicy doesn’t mean that it has to burn off your palate. Spicy means flavorful. I want you to make sure that when you try the chicken, you can taste different flavours, and then you get the heat after.
Joe: The flavour, the spices that he put in this thing balance perfectly. I’m feeling the heat, but it’s not overpowering. I get special treatment, so they let me have this at the table. But normally when you order it, you tell them how many shakes you want, and this makes it even hotter, like, “hot” is on there. I’m gonna add a couple shakes to this. Two, three. What was that? That was a three-shake. What I love about it is it’s not overpowering now. Wait. It’s building. Gimme a second.
Joe: Is there any Chinese dish you personally love and you would love to have at Panda Express?
Chef: I would like to see us making more braised, long-braised dishes. It’s very homey. It’s very comfort food. I would like to see that on our menu someday.
Joe: I felt now was the perfect time to tell Chef Jimmy about my two Innovation Kitchen dish ideas.
Joe: I want to give you two menu items that I came up with.
Joe: Panda. Express. Pizza. You take the scallion pancake, right? You put on that special, that secret sauce you guys have.
Joe: Sprinkle on some Mongolian beef with the broccoli, and then top it with those crispy La Choy noodles.
Chef: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Joe: I love Taco Bell, right? They have those Dorito taco shells. OK, it’s all about brand integration, right? So check this out. I noticed back there, every dish you made had onions.
Joe: Take out onions, we put in Funyuns.
Joe: The second this shrimp hit the wok, I was like, “I want to eat that right now.” Oh, yeah. I’ll try this Angus beef. Oh, wow. It’s inspired by something that he had when he was living in Taiwan. I’m very impressed with this. This is very good. How much opportunity at this test kitchen the chef has to make specific items that are important to him or just things that he wants to try out makes these locations a lot more special. You come in here, the menu is a little bit different. I want to try these carrots. Seeing how they give him the ability to cook dishes that he wants to cook then give them to people like us to see what the reaction is, that’s really cool.
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