Thursday, December 22, 2011

Peking Gourmet Inn

Happy Holidays to you! If you're like us and like to celebrate the holidays with Chinese food (one of the many stereotypical traits shared by our Chinese and Jewish heritage), Peking Gourmet Inn in Falls Church, VA will be right up your alley. We first heard about the restaurant when Duff Goldman (of Ace of Cakes fame) said on Best Thing I Ever Ate that he goes to Peking Gourmet Inn during the holidays with his family for the Peking duck.

Though you can't tell from the strip mall front, Peking Gourmet Inn is a huge, bustling palace of Peking duck wonders. Signed photos of pseudo-celebrities and military brass peer down at you as you eat.

We ordered the house specialty Peking Duck which is carved table-side.

While the duck was being carved, our waiter brought out thin pancakes, sliced spring onions, and hoisin sauce. He proceeded to bundle up the duck into moo-shu style wraps with expert precision. Novices will appreciate that they create the first wrap for you so you know how to do it.

We thought the duck was very nicely cooked with crispy skin and tender flesh. The pancake/hoisin/onion/duck combo was well balanced. My biggest complaint is that for $39, we did not get a whole lot of duck. B and I managed to polish off the whole plate in about 5 minutes.

Since we like to over-order and take Chinese leftovers home, we tried the other signature dish: garlic sprouts with shrimp. The garlic sprouts are grown locally and a unique twist on the standard shrimp with vegetables dish. I liked the garlic sprouts a lot but the shrimp wasn't de-veined. As a general rule of thumb, I don't want to eat shrimp poop.

Peking Gourmet Inn advertises its noodles as house-made, so I couldn't say no. We ordered the Singapore rice noodles because they were listed as "spicy" (that was the only descriptor beyond the name of the dish). We expected a Sriracha-style or peppery spice, so we were a bit surprised when the dish was tossed in a mild yellow curry sauce. The noodles were also under-cooked and a bit hard to bite through. Skip this one and focus on the duck.

Overall, Peking Gourmet Inn was a fun experience with some culinary bright spots. In his 2011 Spring Dining Guide, Post food critic Tom Sietsema said the restaurant had a "Beijing-size ego" and was snoozing on its laurels. While we liked the food better than Tom did, given the prices, I think you're much better off getting your quack on at Mark's Duck House.

Second Thoughts from B

I'm going to make this very easy for you... the best thing about Peking Gourmet Inn was the friendly and attentive service and the fact that J was able to check another thing off of our DC Bucket List (she sings a celebratory song when she crosses something off, which makes things especially fun).

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed our lunch. I just didn't enjoy it and the ample leftovers enough to justify the equally ample bill. It's a stereotype that the Chinese and Jewish communities congregate at Chinese food restaurants during the holidays and that they also share a love of bargains. J and I fit the stereotype perfectly... and this was no bargain.
Peking Gourmet Inn on Urbanspoon

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