Whether you’re craving some orange chicken or want some Chinese fast food, you probably got here by wondering, “Is there a Panda Express in London?” or “Is there a Panda Express in the UK?”
Americans, as a whole, love themselves some fast Chinese food, and Panda Express is one of the most well-loved chain Chinese restaurants in the US. So I get it!
Hey, sidenote! If you’re traveling to the UK, whether for a short period of time or as an expat, why don’t you join my Facebook group where you can ask questions, get advice or just look at pretty pictures of this part of the world! Just click here to request to join and I’ll add you!
You can also check out my ultimate guide to visiting London here, which comes with 70+ topics including how to stay safe in London, how to budget for London, and what to skip in the city!
I grew up knowing Panda Express as a food court option, but it has expanded in the States to stand-alone restaurants now, which is amazing.
So, here we go, the answer to the question of…
“Is there a Panda Express in the UK or England or London?”
is no. There is no Panda Express in the UK, but there are alternatives to Panda Express in the UK which we’ll get into later.
Before we get too involved in finding chain Chinese food, I wanted to share some of my top tips about traveling to the UK or England with you.
Firstly, no matter your reason for being here, you need the best book on living in the UK for Americans ever written – the book is called “Girl Gone London: An American’s Guide to Surviving Life in the UK” and you should click here and check it out.
I also may have written it, so I’m biased. But truly, if you’re coming to the UK as an expat, a study abroad student, or even a visitor, my guide to life in the UK contains both personal anecdotes and maybe too-honest experiences, as well as resources and advice on topics ranging from homesickness in the UK (or how not to rage book a flight to America like I did), driving in the UK, being a student in the UK, and more practical advice about bank accounts, buying houses, and more.
It’s truly a one stop shop for all of the weirdness and wonderfulness (is that a word?) that comes along with life in the UK, and also there is plenty of opportunity to laugh at me as I share all of my expat fails so there’s that.
Also, I’ve put together some articles that I think are super important for anyone visiting the UK or moving here as an expat. For visitors to London, I’ve got information on my favorite London tours to help you navigate the city with the help of a qualified guide, as well as tips and information on how to get around in London.
It can be tricky to figure out when you first get there because the city is so giant, so read my guide in advance to hit the ground running (though funnily enough running is not one of my recommended ways to get around!)
I’ve also got some great information for expats in the UK, including my story about moving to the UK from America and some tips on making friends as an expat in the UK. It can be really difficult to navigate life here as an American, but I’ve got you covered!
- The Best London Tours Ever (Recommended by a Local)
- How to Get Around London with Ease: The Full Guide to London Transportation
- How to Move from the US to the UK without Going Crazy
- Making Friends as an Expat for Dummies
Right, now that you’re all ready for your trip to the UK, let’s move on to Panda Express.
History of Panda Express in the UK
Panda Express was founded in 1973 as Panda Inn, the sit-down version of the restaurant. The geniuses behind it were Andrew Cherng and his father, both from China, as well as Peggy Cherng who was raised in Hong Kong.
It began expanded into Panda Express in the 80s and 90s when it popped up in food courts in malls across the country.
This was the perfect addition to a burger and fries heavy offerings, and I don’t know of a single American who doesn’t love being offered samples from Panda Express as they wander through the food court figuring out what to eat.
Later on, Panda Express began expanded into supermarkets and then stand-alone restaurants. Today, only 2% of the over 2,000 locations are in malls, with most being stand alone restaurants. Panda Express operates restaurants across the world, including in countries like Canada, Guatemala, South Korea, and Mexico.
Unfortunately, Panda Express hasn’t come to the UK and there is no Panda Express in the UK (yet).
Equivalent to Panda Express in the UK
While there aren’t any Panda Express(s) in the UK or in London, there are some other options for Chinese food in the UK!
Local Chinese Takeaway
There are a lot of Chinese “takeaway” or takeout places across the UK, ranging from small shops in high streets to Chinese food served from pubs. The best way to find your local one is to ask your neighbors or other people in the local area. These will usually be individually family-run, not chains, so it’s impossible to tell you all of the takeaway Chinese places in the UK, but I can assure you they are there!
The UK’s closest equivalent to Panda Express would be Wagamama’s, a restaurant that serves Asian style food influenced by Japanese cuisine. While this article is about Chinese food, there are no large Chinese food chains similar to Panda Express, so Wagamama’s is the next best thing.
Wagamama’s has a unique eating and ordering system where you sit at long tables instead of individual ones. They serve a variety of meat and vegetable dishes, many including noodles, ramen, and curries.
Chinatown in London
If you’re in London, the best place for some authentic Chinese food is of course, Chinatown! Here, you’ll find plenty of options just next to Soho and you can enjoy the bright decorations and other cultural festivities that take place here.
Coming to London Soon?
Hey! Since you’re here I’m assuming you’re intent on visiting this amazing city soon! A great way to really immerse yourself in UK culture is see the sights with the help of a guided tour. I’ve picked out a few highly recommended ones below!
Tower of London Tour with Crown Jewels: One of the best things about having a Royal family is imagining you’ll be a part of it one day… and what better way than to imagine yourself in their jewels! Or at least stare dumbfoundedly. Either way, this tour is a sure fire way to get dazzled by London.
Westminster to Greenwich River Thames Cruise: London is built around the River Thames, and one could even say it’s the most important part of the whole city! As such there’s no better, or relaxing for that matter, way to see the sights than from the view of the river itself! This tour takes you around the city and shows why all Londoners are really still rugged sea voyagers at heart, if maybe just a little more posh now.
Oxford, Stratford, and Cotswolds: Londoners would have you fooled, but there’s more to this beautiful nation than just what remains within the confines of London… shocker I know!! And if picturesque beauty is what you’re looking for I really recommend checking out the quaint and historical towns that scatter the outskirts. If nothing else, this tour will give you a break from commuting by the tube, and we all need that eventually.