It Came from Pasadena

New Panda Express lab/restaurant offers new new creations for you

Thursday, August 21, 2014 | 4:44 pm

Chinese food on a plate with separate ingredients? That is so 2013. Imagine a Panda Express that serves its Chinese food as burritos—like Chipotle does.

That’s what happens at a new open-to-the-public testing restaurant called the Panda Express Innovation Lab. The new restaurant is the first of its kind in the nation. Similar to a Chipotle, customers choose a plate, bowl, salad, or wrap , then choose their fillings from four familiar Panda Express fillings—orange chicken, honey-walnut shrimp, Beijing beef, and Kung pao chicken.

Customers can also commit their own transgressions by combining stir-fried chicken or angus beef with string beans, broccoli, or grilled vegetables.

It’s all a bit like moo shoo pork with those cool pancakes writ large.

The new restaurant concept also features six sauces plus an assortment of toppings, ranging from papaya salad, pickled cucumbers, to fried wontons, fried shallots, and peanuts.

There are two sizes available; a small size, which includes one main ingredient and a base for $5.80, and a large size, which includes two main ingredients and a base for $7.

The “lab” also features an experimental Panda Tea Bar which allows customers the chance to create a tea drink of their choice, adding boba, chia seeds, tea jelly, and pudding to a variety of different beverages. The tea bar also cake and pastries from a number of local Pasadena bakeries including Flour + Tea.

The Panda Express Innovation Kitchen is at 3867 East Foothill Boulevard, Pasadena. (626) 351-9128.

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