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TOP 10 Panda Express Competitors and Similar Companies [2023]

Panda Express is a renowned fast-food chain that serves delicious American Chinese cuisines. It serves mouth-watering Asian-segment cuisines at more than 2,200 locations. It was established in the USA and it mainly serves US-based consumers seeking exotic foods.

Most Panda Express restaurants were established in shopping mall food courts. It chose to establish more units in different environments with different themes.

Now, there are stand-alone restaurants established in casinos, universities, amusement parks, airports, military bases, and other locations.

Kun Pao chicken, chow mein, orange chicken, and steamed veggies are some delicious cuisines served at this restaurant chain along with other dishes.

It also serves many new Chinese-cuisine-inspired cuisines that are rare to find in other restaurants. Continue reading to learn more about Panda Express and its top competitors.

What Does Make Panda Express Different from Other Fast Food Restaurants?

Andrew Cherng, his father, and Peggy Cherng had established this restaurant chain. It did not take off immediately. Founders had to provide freebies and special deals to attract customers.

This company’s fortune changed when Andrew met Terry Donahue, who was UCLA’s head football coach at that time. 

Terry’s brother was running a real estate business, which helped Cherngs create a fast-food variant of Panda Inn. They decided to target customers at Galleria’s food court and thus the Panda Express restaurant chain was borne.

It was serving American-Chinese cuisines, which were pretty unique at that time. There weren’t too many restaurants offering delicious oriental cuisines.

The food and restaurant format attracted many customers and thus this restaurant chain grew.

This company has grossed over $3 billion by 2017 and it has employed over 39,000 employees across the USA and other countries.

Serving uniquely prepared Asian-American cuisines is the specialty of this restaurant chain. That’s what it is known for and that’s what attracts customers.

Panda Express Revenue and Franchising

Being one of the leading American fast food restaurant chains, Panda Express earns around $3.5 billion annually.

This restaurant chain is currently not open for franchising. It runs company-owned restaurants across all 2,200 locations and generates a huge profit by selling delicious meals.

A -3.3%  of YOY change may worry some investors, but this restaurant chain is known for overcoming all the challenges. It became a major player in the fast-food restaurant market by offering Chinese foods.

It has retained millions of customers over the years and allures many new foodies every year. Thus, Panda Express makes the competition tougher for other restaurant chains.

Panda Express Competitors

The growing popularity of multi-cuisine restaurants poses a huge threat to Panda Express’s kingship in the market. This restaurant chain became popular by serving some unique cuisines. Now, there are many restaurants serving regional foods.

This company also has other competitors specialized in serving delicious Chinese cuisines. Besides, it is a huge challenge to manage a huge employee base.

The following 10 Panda Express competitors are the biggest threat to this company’s growth and profit.

1. Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ

Operating over 700 restaurants across the globe, Gyu-Kaku is one of the most popular Asian restaurant chains in the world.

Its first restaurant was established in 2001 in West Los Angeles. It became a popular destination to have Japanese cuisines and other Asian foods.

Customers are drawn to this restaurant because it enables barbecuing on the table. Smokeless roaster and many other cuisines enhance the entire dining experience. That’s why Gyu-Kaku is one of the leading Panda Express competitors.

This restaurant chain was established in 1996. It became popular for the taste and quality of the food served in restaurants.

Gyu-Kaku started franchising in 1997 and there were over 666 restaurants in 2011. Today, it has around 31 company-owned locations and over 760 franchised locations.

You get dozens of meat options to grill on smokeless grills installed on the table. It serves many veggies, mushrooms, and other Asian cuisines.

All those features draw millions of consumers, who wish to try Asian cuisines.

Panda Express Competitors Gyu Kaku Japanese BbQ

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2. Sarku Japan

Established to serve fresh and top-quality meals prepared in a hygienic environment, Sarku Japan is a trusted Asian restaurant chain. It was founded in 1987 to deliver the small stall-like test in a comfortable environment.

It became quite popular among people willing to try traditional Japanese cuisines. Customers loved the taste and promoted this restaurant. Thus, it started expanding and today it has more than 250 franchises across 34 US states and South America.

It is the largest quick-service Japanese restaurant chain and it is growing with every passing year.

Sarku Japan restaurants prepare meals right in front of customers. It not only entertains customers but also assures them that their food is being served quickly. Customers across the USA praise Sarku Japan for its quick service.

The menu includes many Southeast Asian cuisines that a typical Japanese restaurant doesn’t offer. Therefore, this restaurant chain is making competition tougher for Panda Express.

Panda Express Competitors Sarku Japan

3. P. F. Chang’s

P. F. Chang’s is a US-based Asian-themed restaurant chain. Paul Fleming and Philip Chiang founded it in 1993. It was owned and operated by Centerbridge Partners until TriArtisan Capital Advisors acquired it in 2019.

Being one of the leading Panda Express competitors, P. F. Chang’s serves a variety of Asian and American-Chinese cuisines. It is running 218 restaurants in the USA and over 100 locations across the globe.

What makes this restaurant chain unique is the appealing indoor dining experience it offers. Customers enjoy delicious meals in dim lighting and get a full bar to enjoy their favorite beverages.

P. F. Chang’s serves lettuce wraps, peaking duck, spicy chicken, and several types of sushi. It also provides Asian beers, wine, cappuccino, sake, espresso, and several other soft and alcoholic beverages.

This restaurant chain makes around $1.2 billion annually and competes with the best Asian-themed restaurants. 

Panda Express Competitors P.F Chang's

4. Thai Express

It is a quick-service restaurant chain that specializes in preparing and serving Thai cuisines. The MTY Food Group owns this company, which won the Golden Chain award in 2009.

There were only 6 Thai Express outlets when the MTY Food Group acquired it from Tara Fung Holding. Today, there are 299 locations where this restaurant is offering exciting Asian cuisines.

Thai Express mainly serves Thai fast food recipes. Once the customer has placed the order, he/she needs to wait until it’s prepared and then the person can enjoy it.

This restaurant chain offers some outlets with the sitting arrangement and some have no such arrangements.

People enjoy their food at Thai Express because they can watch how the chef prepares it. They get hot and delicious meals with tasty sauces.

All those things make dining special for clients and they are encouraged to have more cuisines at Thai express.

Panda Express Competitors Thai Express

5. Din Tai Fung

This Taiwanese restaurant chain was founded by Yang Bingyi in 1958. He used to produce cooking oil until the profit reduced significantly.

Din Tai Fung started preparing xiaolongbao, which became quite popular. Yang stopped preparing cooking oil and started serving as a full-fledged restaurant.

Today, this restaurant chain has more than 170 restaurants across the globe. It serves many Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisines.

However, most customers visit Din Tai Fung restaurant to enjoy the xiaolongbao. It is paper-thin wrapped with 18 folds, which is quite amazing.

This company was one of the top 10 restaurants in the world in 1993. It has won many awards and those awards made this restaurant more popular. Today, it is located across all the major cities in the world.

It has over 2.535 employees, who work hard for the success of the franchise. Panda Express and other restaurant chains compete with Din Tai Fung in the North American markets to gain more customers and make more profit.

Panda Express Competitors Din Tai Fung

6. Pei Wei

P.F. Chang’s had established Pei Wei in 2000 as a fast-casual restaurant chain. It offers a soothing indoor dining environment and serves high-quality fast food to entertain customers.

Pei Wei became an independent Asian-American restaurant chain in 2017. Now, it is operating 119 restaurants across the globe.

This restaurant chain is serving the most delicious Southeast Asian and Asian American cuisines. Teriyaki chicken, Pad Thai, Polynesian Poke bowl, and coconut curries are a specialty of this restaurant chain.

Most visitors admire this restaurant because it serves vegetable-heavy dishes prepared from fresh veggies.

People looking for exotic meat dishes also visit Pei Wei for dishes prepared with vegetables. Vegetarian and vegan customers also get many health-promoting Asian cuisines to enjoy the dinner.

A report reveals that Pei Wei has grossed $118.63 million in 2021 and its revenue can significantly increase this year.

Panda Express Competitors Pei Wei

7. L&L Hawaiian Barbecue

Popularly known as L&L Drive-Inn, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue is a Hawaiian-style restaurant chain headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii. It mainly offers the Hawaiian plate lunch, which is pretty unique and appealing for American diners.

This restaurant franchise’s expansion began when Eddie Flores, Jr. and Johnson Kam acquired it in 1976. It first came to Californian cities in 1999 and then spread across the USA and other countries.

This restaurant chain is currently operating over 200 locations in the USA, Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

This company was established by Elisia Flores’ father and now she serves as the CEO and vice-chairmen of the franchise.

Although it is a Hawaiian-themed restaurant chain, it also serves Korean, Japanese, Chinese, American, and Filipino dishes. All cuisines are served on traditional Hawaiian barbecue plates. This restaurant chain made over $146 million in 2021!

Its annual revenue is expected to grow rapidly as it establishes new restaurants in new locations.

Panda Express Competitors L&L Hawaiian Barbecue

8. Ginger Sushi Boutique

Popularly known as the Sushi Shop in Canada, Ginger Sushi Boutique is a Japanese-themed restaurant chain.

Its menu includes dishes, such as 13 poke bowls, seven appetizers and salads, hosomaki rolls, crispy rolls, maki rolls, nigiri sashimi, summomaki rolls, and many other options.

MTY Group owns this restaurant chain and Kahala Brands franchises its restaurants in the USA. The Sushi Shop was established in 2000 in Montreal and its franchising began in 2001.

The growth was a bit slow between 2011 and 2017, but its locations have quickly increased after that slow phase.

Today, there are more than 157 Ginger Sushi Boutiques across North America and other countries. This restaurant chain promises greater flavor by using fresh ingredients for every cuisine.

Sushi Tacos, poke bowls, Temari collections, and blossom make this restaurant’s menu pretty unique. That’s why it is Panda Express’s major competitor in the region.

Panda Express Competitors Ginger Sushi Botique

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9. Manchu Wok

This Canadian restaurant chain serves Chinese fusion cuisines and runs Asian-themed restaurants across North America.

It owns and operates 70 restaurants across Canada and it has established 13 restaurants in the USA. Manchu Wok restaurants are commonly found in shopping malls, military bases, and airports.

Hong Kong’s Café de Coral used to own this Chinese food franchise, but MTY Food Group acquired it in 2014. It also owns and operates several other Asian-themed restaurants. The menu is pretty versatile, but there are no traditional Manchurian dishes!

Consumers get Canadian Chinese and American Chinese cuisines on the menu and all of them taste pretty delicious.

This restaurant chain tried to expand across the UK between 1992 and 2000, but its ventures did not succeed. It is serving several locations outside North America, but all of them are located on the US Military bases.

Panda Express Competitors Manchu Wok

10. Teriyaki Madness

This restaurant chain was established in 2003 and it started expanding in 2005. It offers eight signature bowls with beef, chicken, tofu, and other cuisines.

Special sauces and delicious side dishes thoroughly improve the dining experience at Teriyaki Madness. This restaurant often introduces unique Asian-style cuisines to make the menu look more impressive.

Although it is a popular American Chinese restaurant chain, rising labor costs are affecting its profit. Its franchises grew from 78 to 102 between 2005 and 2012. That growth slowed down and the pandemic further affected the business.

It currently runs about 100 franchises and it grossed $43 million in 2021. This restaurant got an amazing menu and all dishes are served fresh.

Therefore, it has the potential to grow rapidly and compete with the market’s leading American Chinese cuisine serving restaurants.

Panda Express Competitors Teriyaki Madness