Panda Express – Westwood

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The Orange Chicken Chow Mein Burrito has come to Westwood! Normally, I wouldn’t write about Panda Express, the chain that seems to be in every mall in America, but the newly opened Westwood location isn’t your typical mall Panda Express.

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The infamous Orange Chicken

This Westwood Panda Express is unique as it features the Chipotle-style build-your-own meal approach, previously launched in their Innovation Kitchen in Pasadena. In addition to the usual Panda bowls, two-item and three-item combos, you can also select other options like a wrap or salad, entrees, and customize it with sauces and crunchy toppings.

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It may not seem that different, but if you go the salad or bing/wrap route, you’ll get something different from your standard Panda fare. I was curious to try one of the bings (wraps), made from a scallion pancake (as opposed to a tortilla).

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You can choose a base for the wrap – steamed rice, chow mein, fried rice, salad greens or vegetables- or even go half and half and choose two bases. I went with salad greens and fried rice.

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The salad toppings

You can also select one or two entrees for your filling (hence the possibility of an Orange Chicken/Chow Mein combo). I went the healthier route and got the Grilled Chicken.

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Adding grilled chicken to the wrap.

Your last challenge is selecting up to 3 condiments from a list of sauces and crunches. I opted for pickled cucumbers, papaya slaw and crispy wonton strips. The whole thing gets rolled up, just like a burrito.

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Rolling it all up. Sauces and crunchy toppings in foreground.

Wrapped in foil paper, it even looks like a burrito…

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Since I went with grilled chicken and no sauces, it even tasted kind of like a burrito. It sure didn’t taste like my usual two item plate from Panda Express.  It was a nice change, though a little on the dry side since I didn’t add a sauce nor choose and entree with sauce on it.

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It was, by far, my messiest meal at Panda Express. With every bite, filling would fall out. This is what my tray looked like:

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Stuff fell in my lap too, so this is not something to eat in the car.

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My husband ordered the two item plate but took advantage of the ability to add a couple of crunches to his meal. The addition of the pickled cucumbers and papaya slaw made the plate look fresher and more attractive. This location also offers Spicy String Beans, a good option for vegetarians, as most locations only have string bean chicken, that pairs well with the Eggplant Tofu.

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Chow Mein, Orange Chicken and Mushroom Chicken

My daughter, the non-adventurous eater, was disappointed to see that the Mushroom Chicken here is made with chicken breast, as she prefers dark meat. Usually she doubles up on the Mushroom Chicken, but this time chose the Orange Chicken as well, which turned out to be too spicy for her. She didn’t even bother to take advantage of the sauce or crunchy adds.

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There’s also a tea bar, which features various teas, smoothies, lemonade and even shakes (fortune cookie and oddly enough, red velvet)!

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We happened to come here on Opening Day, so the restaurant was new and sparkling clean. There’s a large seating area, and even a few booths as well. The staff were friendly and energetic, eagerly offering free samples.

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The next time you feel an Orange Chicken craving coming on and happen to be in the neighborhood, drop on in to this brand new Panda and try it in a wrap. Chances are, I’ll be there eating mine, as well.

Location – 2011 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles, 90025
Website – https://www.pandaexpress.com
Kid-Friendly – Yes
Kid’s Menu – Yes
Pesco-Vegetarian Friendly – Yes
Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly – Yes
Gluten-Free Options – Yes

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