Sherman's Food Adventures: Peking Restaurant

Peking Restaurant

Although I can easily cook up some Chinese food at home, there are certain items that taste better in a restaurant. Anything stir-fried for instance doesn't really turn out right with the measly BTU available on a residential stove. Furthermore, making your own Dim Sum can be somewhat challenging since there is so much variety. I mean you can do it, assuming you do only a few items. Hence, I have wished all along that there would be some good Chinese food near where we live. By default, Wah Lun is probably the best of the bunch. Yes, there are better; but I'm referring to the location rather than comparing it to the best in town. Now if I really want to get lazy, there is North Burnaby Wonton a few minutes away; however, let's not consider it to be good food. A long time ago, we had visited Peking Restaurant which is on the same block at Pho 101 and Sushi Town. What a totally underwhelming experience that was. When home-cooking is better than what they served, one wonders why people eat there at all. So fast-forward 6 years and we finally are willing to give it another try, albeit for Dim Sum.

When we first arrived, the place was pretty empty. Was this an ominous sign? Well, not really, it did begin to fill up later. The first item to arrive was the Fried Squid. Let's just say the batter on this version was different. They used a tempura-like batter that was already seasoned with salt. Although it was not exactly the traditional way of preparing it, the squid was tender and the batter was crisp. No harm, no foul. As for the Haw Gow, it was barely acceptable. The dumpling skin was far too thick and gummy. I mean, you can tell just by looking at it. The shrimp filling was marginally better. I wouldn't exactly call the shrimp cold-water crunchy. Rather, it was just shrimp that was cooked decently. Not much in the way of flavour either. These were definitely frozen dumplings.

The Sui Mai were barely passable as well. With no shrimp whatsoever, these consisted of minced pork only. The texture was a little soft; but not completely a lost cause. The lack of any other ingredient made this a very one-dimensional tasting dumpling. Furthermore, they didn't do anything to make it look appetizing. Just pale pork, that's it. Remember when I mentioned about restaurant food that passes off as home-cooking? Well, the Black Bean Spareribs were a good example of that. With so much black bean sauce that the spareribs began taking on a shade of black. Furthermore, the ribs had the tenderness of cow hide. So basically, I was gnawing on shoe leather that was over-marinaded with salt.

Of course, whenever I go for Dim Sum (without people that are squeamish), I get the Bible Tripe. Now this was a decent dish. The tripe was soft while still having some chew and there was no gaminess at all. There was hits of ginger and green onion while exhibiting not a whole lot of salt. That maybe a good thing for people who don't like it too salty. For the kiddies, we got the Beef Congee. Well, it turned out to be for our daughter only since my son didn't really appreciate the plethora of minced beef. The best way to describe it is "home-cooking". It wasn't especially thick nor was it really that flavourful. Hey, that can be a positive since it means they didn't use a whole lot of MSG. They apparently didn't use a whole lot of meat tenderizer either since the beef was slightly gritty. As a backup dish of sorts, we got the Fried Rice Noodles with Beef since we know our son would eat it for sure. Well, when we got it, I was worried that he wouldn't touch it. You see, it was very dry. I must give them kudos for not making it too oily since that is usually the complaint about the dish. But it was lacking moisture so much that the noodles were hard. There was not a heck of a lot of flavour either. The one acceptable thing about the fried noodles was the ample amount of beef. It wasn't super tender while it wasn't exactly chewy either.

Another kid-friendly item was the Steamed BBQ Pork Buns. Unlike the ones we regularly see in a Cantonese Dim Sum establishment, the bun itself was something you'd find in a Shanghainese restaurant. I guess with a name like Peking Restaurant, it would be expected. So the "closed" bun was a bit stiffer than the fluffly "open" Cantonese bun. Now once we split the bun in half, it revealed lots of BBQ pork and I mean lots. It wasn't too fatty; yet it was predominantly sweet, maybe a bit too sweet. Lastly, we had the Loh Mei Gai or sticky rice steamed in lotus leaves. It was not really all that sticky; rather, it was on the mushier side. The large amount of ground pork filling probably contributed to the excess moisture that made the rice soggy. Moreover, I found the pork filling to quite oily too. It did taste alright though. Just a bit of savoury elements from the pork and flavour from the leaves seasoned the rice.

Alright, it is painfully obvious that the food here is marginal at best. It is surprising considering it is within the GVRD. Sub-par Chinese food can't really survive unless it is North American Chinese food. That type of Chinese food does have its clientele. The Dim Sum in general was very unsatisfying. Again, I feel bad being so blunt since it is a family-owned restaurant and I'm sure they are trying their best to earn a living. I don't want to negative for the purposes of being negative. However, I don't see the point in going out to eat and spending your own hard-earned money if one could probably do better cooking it at home. And honestly, I have made some of these items at home and not trying to sound arrogant, they were significantly better. But for some reason, the place has been here forever and people do eat here. So maybe I'm just too spoiled with good Chinese food.

The Good:
- Staff are inviting and friendly
- Inexpensive

The Bad:
- For authentic Chinese food, it is sub-par

Peking Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Ginseng said...

I drive by this place on my way to work, and have always wondered what their dim sum was like. Thanks for doing a review!

thefridaylunch said...

I've been meaning to hit this place up for quite some time. Luckily, I have an ever-curious food guide who took a bullet for the rest of us! Thanks, Sherman! I'll stick to Wah Lun for my North Burnaby dim sum fix...

Sherman said...

@Ginseng Yes, stay away.

@Karl Stick with Wah Lun for sure! Despite the US rankings!

LotusRapper said...

One way I try to gauge if a restaurant is "authentic" (interpret that any way you wish ....) or bent on North American Chinese tastes is by asking about their delivery service. If there's a big map of the GVRD behind the cashier desk with a 10-mile-radius (just kidding) delivery zone, then I'm willing to bet their business is dependent on deliveries and on the demographics that often request deliveries.

Not to stereotype, but the average Chinese foodie household is less likely to request delivery service than to actually go and eat in the resto in-person (to get all that "wok-hay" goodness).

Nothing wrong with N. American Chinese food. Hey I love glow-in-dark gooey fatty pieces of deep-fried protein as much as Joe Schmoe.

Sherman said...

@LR Yup, I actually like N.A. Chinese food at times. Depends on your expectations.