Sep 27, 2021

Review: Panda Express - Orange Chicken Sandwich

Panda Express' Orange Chicken Sandwich features a crispy-fried breaded chicken breast filet topped with Orange Chicken sauce (a combination of sweet and tangy flavors with a slight spicy kick) and served with crinkle-cut bread-and-butter pickles, shredded cabbage, and a spicy aioli sauce on a King's Hawaiian bun.

It cost me $5.95 for one.

The chicken filet was crispy like Taiwanese popcorn chicken, which tends to have a bit of starch in the batter for a light, somewhat lumpy texture. While the crust was nice and crunchy, the filet was lukewarm and a little dry. It was also fairly thin but, at least, extended just slightly past the bun in diameter. The filet was plain in terms of seasoning with not much in the way of flavor.

Rather than tossing the filet in Orange Chicken sauce, they drizzled it generously with the sauce from a squeeze bottle during sandwich assembly. The end result was a sticky mess to eat as the sauce dripped down and formed a thin layer over the bottom of the bun. It pretty much defeated the purpose of a sandwich.

Taste-wise, the sauce seems the same as you get with their Orange Chicken with a sweet and tangy flavor and just a touch of heat. Combined with the spicy mayo (which was spicy, creamy, and tangy), there was a decent kick to the sandwich (it's around the same level as most fast food spicy chicken sandwiches) with some moderate staying power.

The bread-and-butter pickles were moderately sour and retained a substantial crunch that was echoed by the crunchy cabbage. The cabbage was maybe cut a little too fine though as it tended to fall out of the sandwich.

The King's Hawaiian bun didn't appear to be toasted or at least not toasted recently. It was soft and dense (but pillowy) with that distinct sweetness that the brand is known for. It's a bit too substantial for the thin filet though and there's already a good deal of sweet components in the Orange Chicken Sandwich.

Overall, Panda Express' Orange Chicken Sandwich turned out to be a mixed bag for me as well as a bit of a puzzle. While it delivered that signature Orange Chicken flavor and features a number of satisfyingly crunch elements, the meat-to-bun ratio was too tilted in favor of the bun. Given the stickiness of the sandwich, I'd rather just get the crunchy filet and some Orange Chicken sandwich to dip it in. The head scratcher is wondering where it fits on the Panda Express menu as it throws off and slows down the whole workflow of the line. My server had to step away from the steam table and go to a station off to the side to make the sandwich, which took a good deal longer than the normal spooning of food onto a tray.

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