One benefit that Panda Express corporate employees in Rosemead get is first hand access to a roving set of secret Chinese menu items every week thanks to corporate chef Rui Xi. The affable chef, who is a main fixture of one of the chain's flagship stores, spent decades cooking in China before coming over stateside to help open numerous Panda Express locations around the country.
When Eater was on location last fall, there were rumors of Xi's chef-driven Chinese favorites being cooked in the kitchen for the outlet's staffers. But the word is out: anyone who wants to get a taste of some of Panda Express's most imaginative cooking can come out on Wednesday or Thursdays for lunch. Think mapo tofu (an easy to find staple in SGV) or pork chop rice, which comes with a soy sauce egg and veggies. Other weeks, Xi has cooked up twice-cooked pork, black bean spare ribs, and black bean fish.
Even this week, Xi is preparing two specialties: Chinese bacon with long beans (in Chinese, it's called làròu 腊肉) and curry chicken, which comes in a broth. The bacon, which is made from inch-thick strips of pork belly, is available today while the curry chicken will be served tomorrow.
The menu items change weekly, but one thing's for certain: these secret dishes might be the most compelling preparations to ever come out of a Panda Express. And the best part? There's no upcharge for any of these items. Just add them to your usual order of chow mein and fried rice.
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