Sushi pieces between chopsticks, flying separated on white background.
The Japanese Kitchen Owned By Panda Express
By Annie Hariharan
In 1992, Panda Express owners Andrew and Peggy Cherng anticipated that they may lose customers to newer restaurants and thus started Hibachi-san, a fast-casual Japanese eatery focusing on sushi and teppanyaki. The pair told Fortune that it was a "defensive strategy to keep Japanese restaurants from selling against their Chinese food at Panda Express."
There are only 10 Hibachi-san locations in the United States, centered in malls or universities, compared to the 2,300 Panda Express locations nationally. The customer reviews are mixed, ranging from "The sashimi is not great," to "Just think of this place as a bit more expensive Panda Express."
Hibachi-san may have started as a sushi and teppanyaki restaurant, but Corporate knows when to evolve. Rather than offer a stock-standard menu in every location, there are variations, with a growing emphasis on poke bowls, including a build-your-own option for customers who have grown up with Chipotle and Subway's style.