The Internet Is Defending Against Panda Express Attack

Panda Express is the purveyor of American-style buffet Chinese food that divides opinion — dismissed as inauthentic by some, lauded by others for just simply tasting good. Founded by father-son duo Master Chef Ming-Tsai Cherng and Andrew Cherng, the first Panda Inn opened in 1973 in Pasadena, California, per Panda Restaurant Group. Andrew and his wife Peggy went on to open the first Panda Express in 1983. The chain couldn't find a foothold in New York City — a city well-known for its more traditional Chinese restaurants — until 2015 after trying and failing a few years prior (via The New York Times).

"For many guests, they come to us because they trust us ... We were their first taste of Chinese cuisine," Andrew Cherng said (via Insider). When he and his father opened the first Panda Inn, Chinese food was still less-known by some Americans and recipes were adapted to an entirely different palate. It was a story of "the repertoire of [immigrant Chinese chefs'] own culinary skill set and making it appeal to an [American] national palate." Perhaps Panda Express isn't trying to serve authentic Chinese food you would see in Beijing or Shanghai, but to create a whole new Chinese food subculture through an American lens — Panda Express changed American Chinese food forever. Now, people are debating the chain online.

Maybe the idea is that it's not meant to be authentic

Diners like Panda Express for various reasons. Most cite the consistency across franchises in different cities. "I can get a meal in New Orleans and New York and they taste the same. Takes out the hassle of finding a place, perusing their menu, and praying I enjoy their food," says one Redditor. Others genuinely enjoy the food; the orange chicken is so popular it has several copycat recipes available on the internet. So when someone on Twitter asked, "Who the f*** is keeping Panda Express in business," the internet leapt to the Chinese food chain's defense.

"I'm either an elitist and want really authentic Chinese food or Panda Express. No in between," defended one Twitter user when responding to the question. Another tweeted, "Chow mein. Teriyaki chicken. Orange chicken and gimme some honey walnut shrimp. Bigger plate go crazy lol." Some users agreed with the opinion that there are better places than Panda Express. "I literally just asked the same question yesterday. I can't understand it," said a Twitter user. Another pointed out, "Willing to bet there are at least 5 or 6 Chinese Food joints within a 5 mile radius of any Panda Express that is at minimum 3x better and probably cost less."