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Eat and Drink

Panda Express opens in Manhattan and the Bronx

Hop on your nearest express train -- an orange chicken shaped hole in your heart is about to be filled!

Panda Express opens in New York City Saturday, Nov. 21 after a 14-year hiatus in the five boroughs.

A family-owned business since its California founding in 1983, the Manhattan location of restaurant feels more like a neighborhood spot than yet another outpost of a massive chain. Photographs featuring scenes from Shanghai and Chinese proverbs line the slate grey walls and pseudo-rustic wooden tabletops and stools line the small dining room.

Likening the resurgence of the chain in NYC to Chick-fil-A's recent midtown opening -- which is franchised, not family-owned -- a spokesperson for Panda Express hopes the new locations give transplants a memorable taste of the fast food they grew up with.

Take a look around the new Manhattan restaurant!

Welcome to Panda Express at 1277 First Ave.

Between 68th and 69th streets, the restaurant is
Photo Credit: MELISSA KRAVITZ

Between 68th and 69th streets, the restaurant is surrounded by a Yogurtland, Patsy's Pizzeria, Famous Famiglia, Le Pain Quotidian, Chipotle, and several more fast food and fast casual restaurants.

Days before the official opening, neighbors were trying to get into the empty restaurant, peering eagerly into the glass windows.

Family-style seating aims to emphasize the restaurant's family-owned identity.

Working with smaller space than usual, Panda Express
Photo Credit: MELISSA KRAVITZ

Working with smaller space than usual, Panda Express decided to create a communal dining space in the small dining area, so neighbors can bring friends and family to grab a quick bite. Put down your iPhone -- and your iPad, and your laptop -- and make a few friends to split fortune cookies with. Starbucks is next door if you're craving some anti-social time and free Wi-Fi.

But if you're not here to make friends, you're here to eat.

All of the food at Panda Express is

All of the food at Panda Express is made fresh daily and never reheated. Fresh produce and other ingredients and chopped and prepped in the on-site kitchen.

Want to hack the menu? Easy.

The most popular way to order at Panda
Photo Credit: MELISSA KRAVITZ

The most popular way to order at Panda Express is with a take-out combo. In NYC, a bowl with one entree and a side starts at $7.40, a plate with two entrees and a side is $8.40 and a bigger plate with three entrees and a side is $9.90.

The hack? Sides, which range from chow mein and fried rice to slightly healthier mixed vegetables and steamed white or brown rice, can be split! Opt for half noodles and half rice to go with your entree because, of course, you want all the carbs.

You can also add a spring roll for $2.

Other $2 additions include chicken eggs rolls, cream
Photo Credit: MELISSA KRAVITZ

Other $2 additions include chicken eggs rolls, cream cheese rangoons, crispy shrimp and chicken potstickers.

There are special New York only menu items!

More new dishes will be introduced as New
Photo Credit: MELISSA KRAVITZ

More new dishes will be introduced as New Yorkers respond to the first Panda Express, but for now, string beans with sliced beef, peppers and black bean garlic sauce is an exclusive New York menu item.

And for vegetarians... Ma Po Tofu!

Exclusive to New York, this American take on
Photo Credit: MELISSA KRAVITZ

Exclusive to New York, this American take on the classic Chinese dish is not as spicy as traditional Ma Po Tofu and uses mushrooms instead of meat to make the dish a vegetarian-friendly option.

But you know you're really here for the orange chicken.

Manhattan's Panda Express expects to serve 2,000 pounds
Photo Credit: MELISSA KRAVITZ

Manhattan's Panda Express expects to serve 2,000 pounds of orange chicken each week. This will be followed by a whopping 1,200 pounds of shrimp.

Honey walnut shrimp is another fan favorite.

Okay, America likes things fried and sweet.
Photo Credit: MELISSA KRAVITZ

Okay, America likes things fried and sweet.

Ready to celebrate?

Grab a party tray! Entrees range from $38
Photo Credit: MELISSA KRAVITZ

Grab a party tray! Entrees range from $38 - $53 and sides are $14 to serve all of your human and panda friends.

On opening day, Panda Express will donate 100% of sales to local charities: Lenox Hill Neighborhood House and Washington GREYS Military Cadet. Both new locations will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Rumor has it a human in a panda costume may be in attendance.

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