food

America’s Panda Express Chinese fast food chain is coming to Japan

26 Comments
By Casey Baseel, RocketNews24

A number of U.S.-based fast food and takeout-centric chains have hit it big in Japan, but most of them have some sort of quintessentially American foodstuff as their signature menu item. McDonald’s has the hamburger, Krispy Kreme the noble doughnut, and Kentucky Fried Chicken doubles down with not only an iconic favorite of the American south, but even a U.S. state in its name.

But soon Panda Express, the Southern California-based Chinese fast food chain that’s ubiquitous at West Coast shopping mall food courts, will be opening its first restaurant in Japan.

The venture will be handled by I&P Runway Japan, a joint entity set up last year between Panda Express-owner Panda Restaurant Group and Japan’s Chikara no Moto, the restaurant management group behind the much-loved "tonkotsu" ramen chain Ippudo. Originally formed to help Ippudo get a foothold in the U.S., the culinary exchange is now flowing back to Japan, with the first Japanese Panda Express expected to open before the end of the year.

Skeptics may wonder what use Japan has for an American take on Chinese food, given that the country is geographically much closer to China than the U.S. But not all Chinese food available in Japan is purely authentic either, with much of it being adapted to local tastes, since Japan is generally willing to forgive tinkering with tradition as long as the result pleases the palate.

There’s also the fact that even the other American chains we mentioned above, which are all extremely successful in Japan, have created a number of Japan–specific items to boost their popularity here, so there’s a pretty good chance we’ll see Panda Express roll out something just for Japan too once it arrives in the country. Plus, it’s got a panda in its logo, and you can never underestimate the marketing power of cuteness in Japan.

Source: Chikara no Moto

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Import immediately! The top 3 Japanese chain restaurants -- Survey ranks Japan’s most popular fast food chains, McDonald’s surprisingly not No. 1 -- Japanese stir-fried noodles a huge hit in Kenya

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26 Comments
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Panda Express use to be at Kyoto Station. BTW, they are awesome...can't wait!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Ugh, so instead of Japanified Chinese food that doesn't help my cravings we'll get Americanized Chinese food that doesn't help my cravings?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Luckily for Katsu in Japan you can get pretty authentic Chinese food made and prepared by Chinese people for Chinese that live here.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This is definitely 'American-Chinese' food, that said... Their Firecracker Chicken is pretty tasty.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm sure in the beginning it will be popular but it will die out. Besides how are they going to compete with the lunchtime special of 500yen. Here in Hawaii you spend almost $10.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Egg rolls! The entrees are a bit too close to candy, though.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Panda Express in Seattle Washington USA was excellent.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why not just eat in a Chinese restaurant instead? There are plenty of them around.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

There’s also the fact that even the other American chains we mentioned above, which are all extremely successful in Japan,

I'm not sure McDonalds deserves to be included in the "extremely successful" category. McDonalds has had serious quality control problems and has lost money in recent years. It managed a profit in the first half of this year but it was only $460,000.

A number of other fast American fast food operations have failed miserably in the Japanese market.

Why not just eat in a Chinese restaurant instead? There are plenty of them around.

Indeed and it's not just generic Chinese. You can find very authentic restaurants that do regional Chinese food.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

This is weird. About 99% of "Chinese Food" I've had in the U.S. has been absolute crap compared to what I find in Japan. Many large US fast food operators enter the Japanese market without fully realizing the sheer magnitude of the level of competition, which is why so many fail after a few years,

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Anyone who says Panda Express is excellent has probably never eaten Chinese food in Japan. I travel to China on business, and the Chinese food in Japan is 100x better than Chinese food in China.

Panda Express? I just ate there last night in the US and was reminded why I stopped eating there. Worst Chinese food in America.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

No need for PE -- more than enough Chinese restaurants already!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Along with all these American fast food joints, Japan is also importing American obeisity. Seeing a lot of overweight people over the last few years.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm with qwertyjapan. Panda Express in America in terrible.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

the Chinese food in Japan is 100x better than Chinese food in China.

Of course it is.....Japanified things make it better than the original.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There is no such thing as good chain brand Chinese food in North America.

If you want something decent, find a small independent restaurant, but avoid the type of so called Chinese food joint you find in a typical American mall.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

the Chinese food in Japan is 100x better than Chinese food in China.

I know some excellent Chinese food restaurants in Japan, but I'm not a fan of Japanified Chinese food. The restaurants I like are authentic Chinese food. When done in Japan, it often is better than in China, due to higher quality ingredients. But I'd take Chinese food in China over Japanified Chinese food in Japan.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Is it any better than Bamiyan ?

I would probably go to Osaka Oosho then an American Chinese chain store though.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Bamiyan is actually pretty good, particularly for the price. I went there with my family last week, and with a couple of coupons my wife had, all four of us ate for 3500 yen.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I do understand that Chinese food here is better and healthier than PE. However, every once in a while, I do like that nostalgic aspect of eating PE like eating PE at a shopping mall in the US, especially orange chicken with veggies on top of noodles.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Is it any better than Bamiyan ?

Is Bamiyan really fast food/food court food?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I travel to China on business, and the Chinese food in Japan is 100x better than Chinese food in China

No really, I must protest.

There is excellent Chinese food in Japan - more accurately, some of Japan - as long as you know where to look. But better than China? You're high, pal.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

But better than China? You're high, pal.

I also travel to China regularly, and I know a couple of restaurants that are better than in China, as they have Chinese chefs, so the cooking is authentic, but they are using Japanese ingredients, which are better in quality.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"Why not just eat in a Chinese restaurant instead?"

Because 99 percent of the Chinese restaurants in Japan are boring and bland. If you're happy with cabbage, egg, onions and flavorless shabu-shaby type fatty pork stir fried simply in shoyu, then fine.

But if you want, let's say, barbecue duck with crispy skin or you crave the savoriness of 5 spices, then Japan is the LAST place you want to be.

Bring on the panda!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

But if you want, let's say, barbecue duck with crispy skin or you crave the savoriness of 5 spices, then Japan is the LAST place you want to be.

What's the problem? Can't get it, or no good?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ugh, so instead of Japanified Chinese food that doesn't help my cravings we'll get Americanized Chinese food that doesn't help my cravings?

That's ok, padner! I'll eat your share! Can't wait. Grew up on Panda Express, my kids love it and I think it's good for the competition of restaurants that are out there. If you like it go, if you are fussy and don't, go somewhere else.

This is weird. About 99% of "Chinese Food" I've had in the U.S. has been absolute crap compared to what I find in Japan. Many large US fast food operators enter the Japanese market without fully realizing the sheer magnitude of the level of competition, which is why so many fail after a few years,

A lot of Japanese that buy into the franchise do small studies, research and taste tests to a small local area, testing the waters before unveiling it bringing it to the masses, they don't just bring it and set up shop. Usually the Japanese are careful, a bit too careful in my opinion, but carful nonetheless. Nothing wrong with competition and there is a reason why Panda Express is so big, so if you are a buyer in a franchise, why not go for it? Japanese Chinese food is just that: Japanese Chinese food and the same applies to America. Panda Express doesn't mask itself as "authentic" Chinese food, THEN that would be a false statement as well as false advertising. It's Chinese fast food and done well. Will it appeal to everyone, of course not, but to many people it will. For some people, authentic Chinese food in many regards can be more oily and not everyone can handle that, something else to consider. For me, I have always loved their "Orange flavored chicken" all I am saying is, it's a good thing, try it first and if you don't like it, there's always something else to eat.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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