You may not have an addiction to celebrity ninjas like them nasty Kardashians, but I hope you like Lion Head Meatballs. Panda Express is looking to create the next Orange Chicken phenom. Chef Andy Kao thinks he has it all figured out.
The recipe mixes the rich and delicate texture of ground pork belly against gravy and blanched Napa cabbage, curled against the meatballs to look like a lion’s mane.
Panda Express founder, Andrew Cherng, ate Lion Head Meatballs as a kid in China.
New menu items endure a rigorous testing trail. Panda Express has the pressure to Americanize the dish before it makes the final cut. They will fry, and glaze the meatballs until it’s shopping mall food court perfect. They’ve already bought us 1st Class tickets to Shanghai by blending non traditional spices like fish sauce, fermented black beans, and XO sauce into the meals.
“Our guests are evolving in their tastes and what they want,” said Andrea Cherng, 37, the company’s chief marketing officer and daughter of Co-Chief Executives Andrew and Peggy Cherng. “Especially now in terms of the food industry’s transformation. We have to elevate our game.”
Every Chinese restaurant in your neighborhood will copy the Lion Head Meatballs, just as they did with Orange and Mushroom Chicken. Don’t worry, the meat balls will not be cooked with rat meat. The recipe will take nearly 5 years to develop. The Cherng family will tweak the recipe thousands of times. Millions of people will be interviewed in focus groups, and taste panels.
“We invest a lot of time and resources,” Andrea Cherng said. “The spare ribs were in development for five years, and I’d wager a guess the meatballs will be more years than that.”
Too bad we aren’t a kid at Janson Elementary School in Rosemead, California. They had the opportunity to taste, and try the Lion Head Meatballs. Our location is less then a mile away. We order a 3 piece combo with a mix of rice, and Chow Mein every time. What about you? Do you love meatballs?