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I tried Panda Express’ new Beyond Meat orange chicken. It was delicious and now I’m sold on plant-based chicken.

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A vegan option of Panda Express’ signature orange chicken will be offered in a brand-new partnership with Beyond Meat.

Taste testing Panda Express’ Beyond Meat Orange Chicken.

Thomas Pallini/Insider


Beyond Meat just unveiled its vegan chicken offering this month and Panda Express is its first industry partner, as well as the first national Asian dining chain to offer a plant-based menu option.

Taste testing Panda Express' Beyond Meat Orange Chicken — Panda Express Beyond Meat Plant-based Orange Chicken

Taste testing Panda Express’ Beyond Meat Orange Chicken.

Thomas Pallini/Insider


I tested out the new item to see if it could live up to the original orange chicken. Here’s what I found.

Taste testing Panda Express' Beyond Meat Orange Chicken — Panda Express Beyond Meat Plant-based Orange Chicken

Taste testing Panda Express’ Beyond Meat Orange Chicken.

Thomas Pallini/Insider


I’m a huge fan of Panda Express. As an avid traveler, I seek out the chain whenever I’m in an airport and my favorite dish, unsurprisingly, is orange chicken.

Taste testing Panda Express' Beyond Meat Orange Chicken — Panda Express Beyond Meat Plant-based Orange Chicken

Taste testing Panda Express’ Beyond Meat Orange Chicken.

Thomas Pallini/Insider


It’s a dish of which I’m very protective and knew that the bar was very high for Panda Express and Beyond Meat to create a plant-based product that lived up to my high standards for the dish.

Taste testing Panda Express' Beyond Meat Orange Chicken — Panda Express Beyond Meat Plant-based Orange Chicken

Taste testing Panda Express’ Beyond Meat Orange Chicken.

Thomas Pallini/Insider


“We’re thinking about plant-based protein, plant-based diet,” Jimmy Wang, Panda Express’ executive director of culinary product innovation, said.

Taste testing Panda Express' Beyond Meat Orange Chicken — Panda Express Beyond Meat Plant-based Orange Chicken

Taste testing Panda Express’ Beyond Meat Orange Chicken.

Thomas Pallini/Insider


Beyond Meat was an ideal choice for Panda Express as the company has been pushing the bounds of what’s possible in the plant-based world. “They know what we are looking for and they love collaboration,” Wang said of Beyond Meat.

Taste testing Panda Express' Beyond Meat Orange Chicken — Panda Express Beyond Meat Plant-based Orange Chicken

Taste testing Panda Express’ Beyond Meat Orange Chicken.

Thomas Pallini/Insider


All that in mind, it was time to taste the finished product. At first look, I couldn’t tell the difference between the plant-based product and the original, animal-based orange chicken I’ve eaten countless times in the past.

Taste testing Panda Express' Beyond Meat Orange Chicken — Panda Express Beyond Meat Plant-based Orange Chicken

Taste testing Panda Express’ Beyond Meat Orange Chicken.

Thomas Pallini/Insider


After a brief introduction to the new item by Wang, it was time to tuck in.

Taste testing Panda Express' Beyond Meat Orange Chicken — Panda Express Beyond Meat Plant-based Orange Chicken

Taste testing Panda Express’ Beyond Meat Orange Chicken.

Thomas Pallini/Insider


I took one bite and was instantly hooked. The plant-based nugget had the same taste and texture as its animal-based predecessor, and I couldn’t believe there was no real meat inside.

Taste testing Panda Express' Beyond Meat Orange Chicken — Panda Express Beyond Meat Plant-based Orange Chicken

Taste testing Panda Express’ Beyond Meat Orange Chicken.

Thomas Pallini/Insider


Additional stores may include the offering if it’s successful but that remains to be seen.

Taste testing Panda Express' Beyond Meat Orange Chicken — Panda Express Beyond Meat Plant-based Orange Chicken

Taste testing Panda Express’ Beyond Meat Orange Chicken.

Thomas Pallini/Insider


One is a kung pao mushroom and potato consisting of baby king oyster mushrooms, potatoes, bell peppers, peanuts, scallion, and dried and crushed chili, coated in kung pao sauce. Wok-fried seasoned veggies are also on the menu consisting of baby broccoli, kale, and sugar snap peas, coated in a light garlic sauce.

Taste testing Panda Express' Beyond Meat Orange Chicken — Panda Express Beyond Meat Plant-based Orange Chicken

Taste testing Panda Express’ Beyond Meat Orange Chicken.

Thomas Pallini/Insider


Panda Express says the myth remains even as some locations have an open chicken where patrons can see the food being cooked.

Taste testing Panda Express' Beyond Meat Orange Chicken — Panda Express Beyond Meat Plant-based Orange Chicken

Taste testing Panda Express’ Beyond Meat Orange Chicken.

Thomas Pallini/Insider


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