Discontinued Panda Express Menu Items We'll Probably Never Eat Again

Panda Express food line
Panda Express food line - Allison H. Smith/Shutterstock

Like so many other restaurants, Panda Express has discontinued quite a number of its former menu items over the years, and it's always disappointing when a favorite dish mysteriously disappears forever. Some of the discontinued items on our list may bring back fond and nostalgic memories, while others may be ones you probably haven't missed at all.

Panda Express has discontinued individual items as well eliminating entire categories from the menu. If you have been missing a favorite menu item and don't see it on our list, it may be a limited time-only menu item or there are supply chain issues with an ingredient. It's also worth noting that some menu items, like Potstickers and Eggplant Tofu, are currently regional items that the chain still serves, so maybe it's just not available where you live. However, if it hasn't been available for six years or more, as is the case with many of these menu items, we think there's a good bet that you won't see it again. In that case, the sales statistics have spoken, and it's not likely to resurface.

Read more: The Healthiest Fast Food Chains In The U.S.

Plum Sauce

Panda Express Plum Sauce packet
Panda Express Plum Sauce packet - Tear Here / YouTube

The Panda Express Plum Sauce was discontinued sometimes around 2022. Not only did the sweet mix contain plums, but it also included apricots and pineapples as well as the requisite preservatives.

While several of Panda Express' discontinued menu items have disappeared with no fanfare, social media was alight with customers lamenting the discontinuation of their beloved plum sauce. TikTokker @nots0swift sternly chided the chain for its decision. She declared that she "represent[ed] the people" when she said, "Panda Express needs to bring back their Plum Sauce. This Sweet and Sour Sauce is not the same. It is not. Bring it back or I will be taking my business elsewhere. I swear." Then she backtracked a bit, realizing she couldn't take her business somewhere else because she is still nonetheless a fan of the chain's Orange Chicken.

Despite those few people who were in disbelief over the loss of their favorite dipping sauce, the Plum Sauce remains missing. And while @nots0swift pointed out that there are some sweet sauces still available, to many they're not an equal replacement.

8 Treasure Chicken Breast

8 Treasure Chicken Breast
8 Treasure Chicken Breast - Panda Express / Facebook

Panda Express occasionally trots out a special menu item to celebrate Chinese New Year. In 2018, that dish was Sichuan- and Shanghai-inspired 8 Treasure Chicken Breast. The first "treasure" in this dish was chicken breast. It also included three types of peppers: red bell peppers, green bell peppers, and whole dried chili peppers. The other "treasures" were Chinese sausage, celery, and fermented black beans, while the eighth appears to have been the savory sauce. This ingredient-laden dish hasn't been back since 2018 and, given how long it's been off the menu, appears to have been discontinued.

That may be because its reception was mixed. Some social media reviewers found it not as good as the average Panda Express meal, while others thought it was extremely delicious and maybe the best thing they'd tried from the Panda. The Chinese sausage was a particular hit, but it seemed to have too many veggies for others.

In January 2019, a fan asked Panda Express via social media if they could expect it back for Chinese New Year again, but the chain said it would not be coming back for 2019 (via X). Enough time has passed now with no 8 Treasure Chicken Breast in sight that we don't think it's a dish we'll get to eat again.

Hot Szechuan Tofu

mapo tofu
mapo tofu - UV70/Shutterstock

You might remember Sichuan Hot Chicken that debuted at Panda Express in 2019, but do you remember the chain's Hot Szechuan Tofu? Us neither.

Tofu dishes just don't seem to last very long at Panda Express. While its Eggplant Tofu is still a regional hit in California, even well-liked vegetarian dishes like Beyond Orange Chick'N still don't last in most places and tend to be regional as well. An alleged Panda Express employee explained on Reddit that vegetarian dishes are simply unpopular. With Beyond Orange Chick'N, they explained that "We cooked maybe two or three batches of that throughout the whole day because no one wanted them except for our vegetarian folks."

So, it stands that the Hot Szechuan Tofu was practically doomed from the beginning as a vegetarian item. Honestly, we had a lot of difficulty finding any buzz for it at all. We found it on a few sites that list food nutrition values. It also got a fleeting mention in a couple of articles in 2018 and 2019 about low-carb options at Panda Express. However, we didn't find anyone on social media talking it up or lamenting its passing, so it doesn't seem to have been that big of a loss.

Country Style Bean Curd

stir fried tofu
stir fried tofu - Mizina/Getty Images

Country Style Bean Curd is another one of the many vegetarian dishes that has seemingly disappeared into thin air at Panda Express. In case you're not familiar with the bean curds, they're effectively the same thing as tofu. As we previously mentioned, tofu-based dishes tend to be slow sellers at most Panda Express locations. So, it's no big surprise that this one wasn't a hit. However, the name of the dish is not a familiar one either. While we can easily find mention of a popular dish in parts of China called homestyle bean curd, we can't find any mention of a dish called Country Style Bean Curd outside of lists of dishes that Panda Express once served. 

Nobody on social media or in the blogging world seems to have liked it or disliked it enough to discuss or photograph it, so it's somewhat of a mystery dish. Still, we found plenty of references to the nutritional content of Country Style Bean Curd online as well as a couple of mentions of it on lists of vegetarian menu items at Panda Express in 2016 , 2017, and 2018, so it definitely existed, at least for a short while.

Peking Pork

Peking Pork
Peking Pork - Panda Express / Facebook

Peking Pork was available at Panda Express back in 2017. It contained battered and fried pieces of pork, green bell peppers, and onions dressed in a sweet and sour sauce. However, you'll notice something interesting if you look at Panda Express' menu offerings: there's no pork currently. It's reportedly not even available in regional markets. Employees who worked at Panda Express locations when pork was on the menu indicate that it didn't sell very well, suggesting that the Peking Pork is long-gone.

Yet customers who tried Peking Pork and reported back on social media seemed to like it. While battered and fried chicken nugget-style preparations are fairly popular in Americanized Chinese dishes, it's not everyday that you find battered and fried pork nuggets, making it something of a wild card dish. Customers who mentioned it found the nuggets to be drier and firmer than the ones from the chain's chicken nugget dishes but thought they were still good. For at least a small number of diners, this seemed to be a hit for those who missed the sweet and sour flavors of Sweet and Sour Pork from a few years earlier.

Orange Chicken With Bacon

Orange Chicken With Bacon
Orange Chicken With Bacon - Panda Express / Facebook

Going back even farther in time to 2014, you might have encountered Orange Chicken With Bacon at Panda Express. Combining two favorite foods seems as if it should have been a match made in heaven for some people, but the combo didn't last.

A customer who encountered it when it first came out commented on Panda Express' Facebook page, saying, "The guy taking my order said so many people requested it so they made it a thing. I'm sorry but...excuse me? I LOVE my bacon, but since when is demanding bacon in your Chinese food an everyday thing? This just isn't right at all..." Most people commenting on Panda Express's announcement of this dish had similar sentiments, thinking the chain had gone overboard by adding bacon and making the dish even more unhealthy. While some enjoyed it, it seemed that more people were making complaints than compliments. One customer who tried it said, "it was awful, soggy bacon, and just did not seem to fit with the chicken all that well." Others simply deemed it to be disgusting.

While the official Panda Express page commented on the same post in 2022 to tell a customer that it was planning on bringing Orange Chicken with Bacon back to the menu, nothing seems to have come of such a claim.

Shitake Kale Chicken Breast

Shitake Kale Chicken Breast
Shitake Kale Chicken Breast - Panda Express / Facebook

Panda Express jumped on the kale bandwagon in 2016 with its Shitake Kale Chicken Breast. It contained grilled chicken, broccoli, kale, and shitake mushrooms in a light sauce. Even though kale is ridiculously healthy for many of us, providing tons of vitamins and minerals, this dish just didn't make it. At the time it was available, it was quite possibly the healthiest chicken-based choice on the menu. Officially, it was deemed a Wok Smart menu item, which meant it was low-calorie (only 170) and high-protein (14 grams). Yet, while some reviewers liked it, others found the flavor combination and light sauce to be bland and boring.

Even though Shitake Kale Chicken Breast doesn't seem to be coming back, the vegetable combination of broccoli and kale in a light sauce showed up again -- this time with cabbage -- in 2019 as the Super Greens menu item. Currently, you can mix Super Greens with any menu item, though there isn't a specific kale and meat dish on the menu.

Golden Szechuan Fish

Golden Szechuan Chicken
Golden Szechuan Chicken - Panda Express / Facebook

Nearly every fast food restaurant seems to trot out a fish dish for Lent, and Golden Szechuan Fish was Panda Express' entry for the season in 2014. The dish contained battered and fried cod fish, sugar snap peas, and red bell peppers in a spicy Szechuan sauce. Given how shrimp tends to dominate the seafood side of Panda Express, it was likely nice to see actual fish on the menu. However, it didn't seem to go over that well.

There wasn't a real consensus from those who tried it. Customers who talked about it on social media had a few complaints, like those who found that the sauce made the fish soggy. There were also some who had no interest in it or didn't like it because of the spicy sauce. While the chain has tried some other fish dishes like the regionally available Steamed Ginger Fish, we don't really expect to see Golden Szechuan Fish back on the menu again.

Mandarin Chicken

Mandarin Chicken Fried Rice and Chow Mein
Mandarin Chicken Fried Rice and Chow Mein - seiran_03 / X (formerly known as Twitter)

Mandarin Chicken was the precursor to Grilled Teriyaki Chicken. This dish, which came about in the early 2000s, was all about the grilled chicken and the sauce. And, when it was gone, there were plenty of sad pandas wishing for it to make a comeback ... but we don't have any faith it ever will.

Mandarin Chicken is the only completely discontinued Panda Express menu item we've found with its own Change.org petition to bring it back. Unfortunately, the petition from 2013 closed with only 62 supporters. Several pf those petitioners stated that they stopped going to Panda Express after the chain replaced Mandarin Chicken with Grilled Teriyaki Chicken, which just didn't taste as good to them.

Given the basic chicken base, the sauce seemed to be the keystone of the Mandarin Chicken. Panda Express currently sells a bottled Mandarin-Teriyaki Sauce in grocery stores, but the flavor is closer to the sauce from the restaurant's Grilled Teriyaki Chicken, meaning it's no way to get old-style Mandarin Chicken at home. However, customers who tried to guess what was in the original sauce thought that it was probably made with a combination of sugar, soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic, and ginger in the sauce. Trying to replicate a mandarin-infused teriyaki chicken recipe it on your own may be the closest you get to the long-lost Mandarin Chicken.

Samurai Surf & Turf

Samurai Surf and Turf
Samurai Surf and Turf - Panda Express / Facebook

Back in 2013, Panda Express added a dish called Samurai Surf & Turf to its menu. True to its name, the dish contained shrimp and Angus top sirloin, along with green beans, potatoes, and red bell peppers. It sounded like a steakhouse meal in a bowl, all with a zesty Samurai sauce drizzled over the top. Since the base meal had plenty of protein and only 230 calories, it also qualified as a Wok Smart item.

Customers on social media were fairly complementary, with many commentating that the steak was super tender, but the sauce was nothing special. While the name suggested a luxury steakhouse experience, customers found it to be just okay in the long run.

The name of this dish doesn't work for some other reasons, too. Samurai were Japanese warrior elites, not Chinese. Of course, Panda Express isn't strictly Chinese either, being founded in 1983 Glendale, California (though its founders did take their initial cues from Mandarin and Sichuan cuisine). With increasing sensitivity to cultural appropriation, we don't think this dish will make a comeback -- at least not under its old name.

Fried Brown Rice

frid rice
frid rice - Bhofack2/Getty Images

Fried Brown Rice was once available at Panda Express, but it's officially been gone a while now. Presently, the only brown rice on the official menu is Steamed Brown Rice.

In 2013, Panda Express took white Fried Rice off the menu and replaced it with Fried Brown Rice. Customers took to social media to let their dislike be known. Someone even started a Change.org petition to get fried white rice back. As one said there, "If I am eating at Panda, I am not eating here to be healthy, I am eating there because it tastes good and the brown fried rice does NOT taste good." While some admittedly liked the fried brown rice, others wanted the ability to make the choice.

The company ran a campaign in the summer of 2013 to allow customers to vote for their favorite type of fried rice with their purchase. The version with the most purchases would stay on the menu, and the other would be banished into oblivion. Brown Fried Rice was in the lead for a while. However, if you've visited Panda Express any time since then, you know that the white fried rice won.

BBQ Pork

char siu pork
char siu pork - Alex Liew/Getty Images

BBQ Pork disappeared off the Panda Express menu by 2012. When a Redditor reminisced about the BBQ Pork they once enjoyed at Panda Express, someone else said it was "similar to char siu pork." They went on to say that "You can definitely get a better version from any Chinese deli or restaurant if you ordered char siu pork." So, it's entirely possible to enjoy a better version out there in the wild or to make it your own char siu pork.

BBQ Pork was unpopular enough that one blogger mentioned that they always had to pull out of line and wait for it to be prepared freshly -- yes, even if they ordered it in the drive-through. Perhaps it was because most people looking for BBQ pork are more likely to go to a BBQ restaurant instead of a Chinese one. However, Panda Express' version had a very different flavor profile than American BBQ. If you look at recipes for char siu pork, you will see ingredients that give it a distinctive Chinese flavor profile, like five spice powder, sesame oil, rice wine, soy sauce, and hoisin. There's also a secret ingredient that gives char siu pork its sticky texture and glossy appearance: maltose. Perhaps the Panda Express version was too awkwardly placed between the two cuisines.

Peppercorn Shrimp

Peppercorn Shrimp
Peppercorn Shrimp - Panda Express / Facebook

If you remember Peppercorn Shrimp, you're remembering a menu item that made its debut all the way back in 2012. Besides Thai green peppercorns and shrimp, it had a vegetable in it that you don't often see in Chinese dishes: asparagus. Other ingredients included onions, red bell peppers, and a variety of spices.

It came out as a limited-time offering in February 2-12, and the chain brought it back again that July to pair with Shanghai Angus Steak as part of its Surf & Turf plate. Although customers who tried it once didn't think it was bad, they weren't always sure they'd make a repeat purchase. We haven't seen evidence of it making any sort of return since then.

With asparagus generally being a little less popular than vegetable stalwarts like carrots, broccoli, and onions, we're not too surprised this dish didn't have long-term staying power. With so many other great shrimp dishes for Panda Express to cycle through, we'd be surprised to ever see this one make a reappearance.

Sweet And Sour Pork

sweet and sour pork
sweet and sour pork - Waqar Hussain/Getty Images

We couldn't determine exactly when Sweet and Sour Pork was discontinued from the Panda Express menu, but customers were already talking about the dish in the past tense in 2014 and it hasn't made any known appearances between then and now. It apparently contained a straightforward mix of fried pork, pineapples, peas, and sweet and sour sauce.

Sweet and Sour Pork was once a menu staple, but not only is there no pork on the menu anymore, but the similar Sweet and Sour Chicken Breast isn't a permanent fixture at the time, either (though it does appear to be available regionally).

If you're missing this dish, you can still find it at Panda Inn, the sit-down style sister restaurant of Panda Express (and the fast food chain's forerunner). Yet, as of this writing, California is the only state where you can find a Panda Inn location.

Read the original article on Mashed.