Why You Shouldn't Get The Honey Walnut Shrimp At Panda Express

Panda Express is a massive fast food chain in the U.S. that has delectable Chinese food options for its die-hard fans. According to the brand, one of its primary goals is to prepare meals "with bold flavors and fresh ingredients." Additionally, Panda Express wants to ensure that it can reach out to all kinds of customers including those with specific diet preferences, such as those who prefer vegetarian options like vegetable spring rolls.

Like most fast food chains, there are healthy and unhealthy options at Panda Express. Some of the options that are definitely not worth ordering at Panda Express, include the mushroom chicken and eggplant tofu. While the former is chock full of sodium, the latter has a whopping 24 grams of fat — making them both not great for your health. Another food item that you should stay away from? The honey walnut shrimp, a meal that's usually not worth it.

It lacks impressive flavors and is high in calories

As per Thrillist, Panda Express simply does not get this one right. It should actually be able to deliver a balanced version of sweetness and savory flavors, but as the piece points out, Panda Express' version is a bit "too sweet, too goopy, and not crunchy enough." This was confirmed by a Serious Eats piece that reported the dish is indeed gloopy and basically not a great dish to choose when you have better options.

Not only is the taste questionable, but it's also high in calories. According to Very Well Fit, this meal option is probably one of the unhealthiest items on the menu when compared to other dishes at the restaurant. As per the brand's nutritional calculator, it has 360 calories, 23 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 440 milligrams of sodium, and 35 grams of carbs with just 13 grams of protein. It's simply not an ideal dish for those looking to eat moderately healthy.

You can't be sure about the shrimp

If you're the kind of person that needs to be sure about where your food is coming from, this may be a bit alarming to read. The brand doesn't advertise where it gets its shrimp sourced from. A curious Redditor did ask this question, wondering whether Panda Express employees could shed some light on this topic. A commentator wrote that as per the box, the shrimp is sourced from Idaho and is safe to consume.

However, not everyone is convinced. A Quora commentator wrote that they don't trust shrimp at restaurants in general because they can't ever be sure about the source. If you feel similarly, you might be better off ordering the chicken dishes at the restaurant. As per the brand's website, Panda Express "serves chicken raised without antibiotics for select items." Also, 25% of its egg supply is cage-free at the moment. 

Additionally, the shrimp industry is a murky one. The World Wildlife Fund reports that shrimp farming causes negative environmental impacts, as well as social ones. Overall, it's a tricky space that isn't regulated as much as it should be. Plus, shrimp aren't very tempting options in general. As per Sciencing, shrimp eat, among other things, "plant matter, dead fish, clams, snails and crabs, worms and any other decaying organic matter they find." 

There are healthier options at Panda Express

As far as options are concerned, you don't have to fret because Panda Express does have plenty of well-balanced and mouthwatering food items to choose from. Eat This, Not That! recommends ordering their teriyaki chicken, which has 300 calories, 13 grams of fat, and 36 grams of protein. Another healthy item is their string bean chicken breast that comes in at only 190 calories and also has a good amount of fiber. 

However, if you're still craving seafood, your best bet is to get shrimp from a store that you can trust. There are plenty of copycat honey walnut shrimp recipes available online, such as this one by Feel Good Foodie, that is healthier and allows you to control the ingredients in your dish. As the recipe claims, "There's no heavy batter involved, no deep frying and no caloric sauce. Still, the shrimp is crisp, the walnuts are sweet and it's all mixed with a simple sweet and savory sauce." What more do you need? Bon appétit!