There is panda-monium on the internet now, as Jollibee announces the arrival of Panda Express in the Philippines.
Yes, you heard it right: The famous Chinese food chain in the United States is now coming to the Philippines.
According to a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC) disclosed to the Philippine Stock Exchange its 50-50 joint venture with Panda Restaurant Group last Thursday (September 27).
“We feel fortunate to be partnering with a company that has a history of growing and adding significant value to its new businesses,” said Andrew Cherng, co-founder of Panda Express and its other ventures. Reports said that the partnership initially intends to open five branches in Metro Manila.
Orange is the new
Husband-and-wife team Andrew and Peggy Cherng began serving quick Chinese food in 1983 when they opened the first Panda Express in California.
Known for their orange chicken, the venture eventually spread throughout the US and later on in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Canada, and other countries. Currently, Panda Express has more than 2,100 branches across the globe.
A plea to potential restaurant backers
Panda Express isn’t the only international restaurant chain coming to the Philippines. The Tantoco-led Stores Specialists Inc will open the first Shake Shack branch next year. Meanwhile, Kuya J Group will usher the comeback of Popeyes in the country.
The arrival of Panda Express may be celebrated as an American favorite is poised to fight its way in the overly saturated fast food market. However, there are other—and more exciting—brands we also love to see in our cities more than an Americanized Chinese fast food chain. Consider this our plea to our local restaurant overlords to make an effort to bring these brands to the Philippines:
If you’re old enough to remember the iconic Fiesta Carnival in Cubao, chances are you’ve also been to A&W located at the corner of General Roxas and General Aguinaldo Avenues. Their menu items may be similar to other diner-style joints in the country, but there is one thing that makes them shine the most: their signature A&W Root Beer float.
Until the moment A&W sets its foot back to the Philippines, the closest thing we can do is pour a can of A&W Root Beer in a tankard, fill it with ice, and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
You might be thinking, “Another ramen shop?” Hear us out. It’s not just the bowl of tonkotsu ramen that makes Ichiran an appealing brand to bring to the country. Apart from their dining tables, they also have individual booths in their shops to cater to solo diners.
In a typical Ichiran branch, a booth comes with all the things you need such as order form, various dining accouterments, and even a water dispenser. You don’t even have to speak the entire time! Apart from becoming a potential big hit among introverts, Ichiran is also a great place to avoid paparazzi, if you catch our drift.
3. In-N-Out Burger
A few years ago, In-N-Out Burger opened a pop-up location in Greenbelt. It was swarmed by people who were curious about the hype surrounding their “animal-style” burgers. Although the burger arena is already overpopulated, we will still welcome In-N-Out Burger with open arms because…why not?
If you’ve seen Ugly Delicious or the Mind of a Chef on Netflix, then you know David Chang and his Momofuku group of restaurants well. Known as one of the modern-day enfants terribles of the global culinary industry, Chang became famous for “bastardizing” traditional Asian cuisines and taking them to a next level.
The brand has several restaurants under its belt, with specialties like the noodle bowls, gua bao (think of SaLido’s hong ma), and beef skirt ssam. The restaurant is so popular that its signature “Ssäm Sauce” is now being sold as a condiment! Hopefully, one of the posh hotels in Metro Manila will team up with Chang and bring a Momofuku joint in the Philippines.
5. The Cheesecake Factory
Remember when blueberry cheesecake exploded in popularity more than 15 years ago? Right now, you can think of any sweet flavor and append it with the term cheesecake—and it will definitely exist. Although cheesecake is no longer the king of desserts, a restaurant that serves all things cheesecake will definitely be a hit in the country. And what better brand to bring to the Philippines than the one that has the name “cheesecake” in it?
According to Business Insider, some of the flavors that are too good to pass up are Fresh Strawberry, Ultimate Red Velvet, Chris’ Outrageous Cheesecake, and White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle. In addition to their all-year-round favorites, they also come with seasonal flavors.
Who knows, maybe Cheesecake Factory’s presence in the Philippines can lead to ridiculous flavors like calamansi, dalandan, and halo-halo!
6. Es Teler 77
It’s about time our Southeast Asian neighbors should expand in the Philippines. In Indonesia, one of the biggest homegrown chains is Es Teler 77. Getting its name from a dessert akin to our halo-halo, Es Teler 77 has 200 branches in the country. So what can make this chain appealing to Filipinos?
For starters, we barely know stuff about our neighbors. We already know nasi goreng but they have other dishes to offer such as their national dish soto, rendang, satay, bakso. In addition, Indonesian cuisine harnesses the power of sambal, a ridiculously delicious hot paste made of chilies, spices, shrimp paste, and others.
If Indonesian cuisine will become more prominent in the Philippines, then it’s only a matter of time before we get more Indomie flavors. Who doesn’t want that?
“Ma’am, willing to wait, po?”
If you’re one of the many people excited for the arrival of Panda Express in the Philippines, that’s good. We’re pretty sure you can’t contain to finally take home those cute little boxes and dig in.
If the wait is making you salivate, then you may want to look into these amazing dishes from local restaurants. We tried to find dishes offered here that are similar to their items on the menu.
Orange Chicken: Pink Panda
Ground Floor, Y2 Residence Hotel, 4687 Santiago Corner B. Valdez Street, Poblacion, Makati City
What they have: General P’s orange chicken (P350)
Shanghai Angus Steak: Tien Ma Taiwanese Cuisine
1 Constellation Street Corner Makati Avenue, Bel-Air, Makati City
What they have: Stir-fried beef (P229)
Beijing Beef: Wangfu Chinese Café
Ground Floor, Il Terrazzo, Tomas Morato Avenue corner Scout Madrinan Street, South Triangle, Quezon City
What they have: Black pepper beef (P398)
Kung Pao Chicken: 101 Hawker Food House
Urban Avenue Corner Amorsolo Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City
What they have: Kung pow chicken (P195)
Can’t decide which Chinese delicacy to eat? Why not take a trip to Binondo using our handy guide to a cheap food trip there?