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Beyond Meat is expanding its partnership with Chinese-American fast-food giant Panda Express. The duo have debuted two new plant-based beef dishes to be served at the Panda Express Innovation Kitchen, located in Pasadena, California. They are available for diners to try from now until February 23.
News of the beef trial comes after a successful vegan reimagining of the chain’s classic Orange Chicken in 2021. Made using Beyond Chicken, the dish became one of the most successful regional launches in Panda Express’ history. It sold out in both California and New York. More than 1,300 pounds worth of the product were reportedly sold on July 26 2021.
New dishes for plant-based consumers
The expansion of Beyond Meat and Panda Express’ partnership has produced two dishes; Mapo Tofu with Beyond Beef and String Beans with Beyond Beef. The former is only the second tofu recipe to be served and sees small chunks of tofu cooked in a Sichuan gals sauce with Beyond Beef crumbles. The latter is a simple mix of green beans and Beyond Beef, cooked in a garlic sauce.
“These dishes are traditionally made with minced pork or beef, but we are now offering a plant-based version with Beyond Beef from Beyond Meat,” Chef Jimmy Wang, executive director of culinary innovation at Panda Express, told VegNews in an interview. “Guests can expect the bold American-Chinese flavors that they know and love from Panda with the added benefits of plant-based meat.”
Both dishes are made from vegan ingredients but Panda Express highlights that standard cooking equipment will be used to cook them. As such, no vegan claims are made. For those that consider the dishes suitable for themselves, a range of side dishes are available to accompany the new beef items. Plain white rice, brown rice, super greens mixed vegetables, chow mein and eggplant tofu are listed. The last two have been reformulated in 2021 to be free from animal ingredients.
“We’re continuously looking for ways to innovate and provide new offerings to our guests and sometimes use the Innovation Kitchen to test these dishes first,” Wang said. “We’ll gather insight first and then determine if it makes sense for a potential future roll out.”
The ‘Beyond The Original Orange Chicken’ launch proved so successful that the dish has been added to 70 restaurants across 10 states in the U.S. National launch is anticipated for this year. If the Beyond Beef dishes prove similarly popular, they could be in line for a similarly extended launch.
Beyond the world
Beyond Meat has engaged in numerous restaurant partnerships. In this way, it has eclipsed rival Impossible Foods, which faces an extra hurdle in the form of acceptance of its heme ingredient.
Earlier this year Beyond Meat and Pizza Hut Canada announced they will be working together more. It comes as the former’s vegan sausage is made a permanent menu addition. Similar agreements are in place with fellow Yum! Foods brands Taco Bell and KFC. Beyond Meat’s reach into KFC proved significant this year. Every U.S. location was, for the first time, going to serve vegan fried chicken, powered by Beyond Meat. The project is a limited-run event and began on January 10.
All photos by Panda Express.