The Philippines is now officially the 12th country where American Chinese fast-food joint Panda Express operates. The first-ever location of the restaurant in the country opened on December 12, 2019 at the Upper Ground Floor of SM Megamall Building A in Mandaluyong City.
Panda Express, now among the world’s biggest and fastest-growing Asian restaurant chains, is set to open five more branches across Metro Manila in the coming months. It will eventually open more locations outside the metro. Right now, its Megamall location adds up to the growing number of branches (more than 2,000 currently) across 11 other nations—the U.S., Canada, Guatemala, Aruba, Japan, Mexico, El Salvador, South Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
It was in 2018 when Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC) first announced plans to bring the brand into the country after the giant food chain company teamed up with Panda Restaurant Express. It was in September 2019 when JFC revealed that the first and much-awaited branch will be located at SM Megamall.
As expected, Panda Express’ opening day was phenomenal, prompting thousands of foodies to line up at the Megamall store even hours before the store opening just to be among the first Filipinos to enjoy the world-famous Orange Chicken and other popular dishes of the brand.
Aside from Orange Chicken, among the other entrées that are initially served in Panda Express PH are Kung Pao Chicken, String Bean Chicken Breast, Mushroom Chicken, Beijing Beef, Shanghai Steak, Broccoli Beef, Savory Shrimp, Black Pepper Chicken, Asian Grilled Chicken, and Eggplant Tofu. Interestingly, some of the entrées are marked ‘Wok Smart’—having 300 calories or less and containing at least 8 grams of protein. Side dishes include Fried Rice, White Steamed Rice, Mixed Vegetables, and Chow Mien.
Panda Express is also introducing its famous menu with budget-friendly prices. A Bowl consisting of an entrée and a side starts at P195; a Plate comprising of two entrées and a side dish starts at P245; a Bigger Plate with three entrées and a side dish starts at P295; while Kid’s Meals with a junior-sized entrée and a junior-sized side starts at P180—all coming with free fortune cookies. The Family Feast with three large entrées and two large side dishes (ideal for three to five individuals) starts at P1,200.
The first-ever Panda Express was opened in 1983 in Glendale, California by couple Andrew and Peggy Cheng, both migrants to the US. It was inspired by a Chinese restaurant called Panda Inn, which was founded by Andrew’s dad Chef Ming Tsai in 1973. It was in 1987 when Chef Andy Kao first introduced the Original Orange Chicken, which drew inspiration from the flavors of Yangzhou in China and Hawaii.