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Pasadena’s New Panda Express Is the Healthiest, Most Veggie-Focused Location Yet

Panda + Tea’s Pasadena outlet opens February 6

Panda + Tea
Panda Express
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

Panda + Tea, Panda Express’s healthier, vegetable-centric sister concept, opens in Pasadena on February 6. The Pasadena location is the fourth such outlet for Panda + Tea in Southern California, but boasts healthier dishes that can’t be found at any other Panda Express.

In a smart, trend-driven move, Panda Express is trying to explore a more vegetable-oriented fast casual restaurant concept. They won’t be getting rid of old favorites like orange chicken, though some of the way they’re served will be different. There’s an orange chicken salad, or ‘rrito, which substitutes a scallion pancake that resembles a tortilla.

Glazed carrots and brussels sprouts
Panda Express

The scallion pancake isn’t new — they’ve offered them at the Panda Express Innovation Kitchen as well as a few other Panda Express outlets around LA. Some of the new dishes at the Pasadena Panda + Tea include wok-seared garlic kale; cabbage and broccoli; glazed carrots and brussels sprouts; and an Asian vegetable crudité. There’s even a healthier quinoa fried rice, which should appeal to nutrition-conscious Angelenos. The Pasadena location is a testing ground to see if these dishes can be applied to other Panda Express locations.

In addition to some of the healthier dishes, Panda Express has their slate of pearl milk teas, fruit teas, lemonades, smoothies, and sparkling yogurt drinks that show up at other Panda + Tea locations, which are located in Westwood, Hacienda Heights, and Monterey Park.

The Pasadena store represents the company coming full circle, as Panda + Tea will reside in the same building as one of Panda Express’s original locations from over 20 years ago.

Everything at Panda + Tea is designed for future diners, including the modern interior, neon signs, and what looks like a tea parlor. Panda + Tea will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Sundays.

Panda + Tea ‘rrito
Panda Express

Panda + Tea
216 S. Lake Avenue
Pasadena, CA

Panda Express Innovation Kitchen

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