Peking Cheers in Gaithersburg
So after all the reports of the Joe's Noodle House's chef moving to Peking Cheers in Gaithersburg... I went last night.
We went in and were sized up as whiteys and promptly given the "American menu". I noticed the real menu as we were being led to our seats and grabbed it. There were many items on this menu and they were all translated (sometimes not well) into English.
I am a vegetarian so we ordered only vegetarian dishes... here were my impressions.
The cold dishes were on display in a small refrigerator at the front of the store. From these dishes we had:
1. Shredded Potato salad- Cold dish of shredded potato, delicious combination of sesame oil and cilantro ( a good cooling dish)
2. Bean Curd with Snow Cabbage- This is the edamame dish from Joe's Noodle House. It is Bean curd, Edamame, and some type of green (mustard). This dish was good but definitely better at Joe's. The flavor of the greens was weak and it tasted a bit old.
3. Pickled Cabbage Szechuan style- (i think that is what it was called)- this was a steal 95 cents for a plate of pickled veggies carrots, broccoli stems, cabbage. A bit spicy and salty with a nice acidity to it.
4. Szechuan style tofu- appetizer- better than Joe's and definitely firey- the tofu came in big blocks that diffused some of this spiciness.
5. Salty and crispy eggplant- A salty battered treat that was very enjoyable. This was topped with scallions, hot peppers, and garlic. You definitely can only have one or two of these. Between the two of this a whole plate was too much.
6. Spinach Noodles- This warm dish is normally served with a big pile of meat on top and I know this because it was brought out to the table this way and then the waiter turned around and began to yell a the kitchen. I don't know Chinese but I bet he wasn't saying nice things to them. Anyhow, noddles with szechuan sauce and spinach. The noodles were great and had a nice fire to them.
7. Shepard's purse soup with Spinach and tofu- A basic soup thickened with cornstarch. Enough to share between 2 (I think that is what Shepard's purse mean). A very simple soup basic broth, spinach, and tofu but it balanced out some of the spicier dishes.
It was a nice experience with good food. It was pretty funny because 2 different staff people came over to our table and seemed surprise that we were eating the food and that we were enjoying it.
Definite reccomendation and I will go back to try some of the other items on the extensive menu.
$30 for a huge dinner and a bunch of leftovers!
Good restaurant gone bad????
Having met and now married to my wonderful wife and her Chinese family I have definitely been exposed and thoroughly enjoyed cuisines most Caucasians will never enjoy. Gone are the days of what Chinese people call Chinese-American food i.e. sweet and sour pork & General Chow's chicken and I could not be happier. Instead we frequent restaurants’ that may cater to the American side but still retain real Chinese food, until the other day. The restaurant in question is called Peking Cheers, located in at 519 Quince Orchard Rd Gaithersburg, MD 20878 (301) 216-2090. My first visit to this restaurant located in a strip mall a couple of years, don’t you find the best places always are, was also my first experience eating Peking duck, needless to say if you like chicken you will absolutely love duck. My wife’s family knew the owners, so we were always given some VIP treatment when we visited. The food then was delicious and reasonable; today it’s to a lesser degree. The primary reason we frequented this restaurant in the past was their deal on Peking duck, unbeknownst to most people who try out this restaurant if you purchased an order of duck and any other entree you got the duck for half off. Just try and find that kind of deal anywhere else! On out latest visit my wife and I went and we ordered the duck and two side dishes, I don’t mean to sound greedy, but we were both taken aback when they only took off $5 dollars for the duck, also the ducks that were served while waiting for our own now appear to be smaller then those they served in the past. Another dish we ordered and that I have enjoyed in the past was the Shrimp with broccoli and walnuts, most other true Chinese restaurants make this dish with grilled shrimp and a white sauce, the one we got consisted of breaded shrimp and a orange sauce similar to that found on orange chicken. When we finally received our bill the dinner was nearly $50, I don’t mind paying good money for good food, but honestly this dinner was not worth it. I would rather spend this kind of money for habitué at the RIO shopping center. All in all the dinner was ok; the duck still good, though smaller. What made this restaurant unique was that we knew the owners and their price on ducks, but after the other day I guess any place would do.
As you can see, my post was over two years old. Since then, Peking Cheers has definitely gone down hill. They also lost their liquor license. Went there about six months ago and found the place had a funky (unclean) aroma. The duck was dried out and even the hoisin served with it had a cheap industrial flavor. Further, we were the only customers on a Saturday afternoon except for a few carry-out pickups. It seems they've hit the skids. Too bad.
My only quibble with your review (they've definitely gone downhill): the discounted Peking Duck was no secret for insiders. Not only was it in large type on some print ads they ran, but in window-sized posters facing the street in their front windows. They've used that as their audience draw for probably 15 years.
Thanks for your summary write up, Steve. My bottom line was very similar to MartyL's (full disclosure, I didn't try all dishes)--some dishes quite good, others I didn't like so much. But, the overall standard was pretty high and it's a good Szechuan (sp?) choice. I thought the soft szechwan tofu was wonderful (and enough for an entree, although billed as an appetizer). I liked the szechwan green beans more than some on this thread. I largely share Steve's opinions of all of the small dishes he commented on. There were definitely some who didn't like the smoked fish at all. I liked it, but didn't love it (but admit to not being an aficionado of this dish). I completely agree about the radish appetizer--it was wonderful. The crispy shredded potato dish that Steve mentions was made quite good by the hot peppers in it. Alone, the dish was sort of sweet, which is not something I generally like. But the hot peppers made it quite good and unique.
I actually recently had the szechwan green beans at JNH (probably around the time of the chef departure, not sure if s/he was still there or not) and thought they were fantastic. Similar to what some here seemed interested in. JimZ, have you tried this dish at JNH?
I am used to the version with yard long beans but I have not seen THAT since I left LA and lost access to Monterey Park's China Town (which actually ranges from San Gabriel to practically City of Industry!). Properly made the beans are a little tough and chewy but bursting with flavor. The pork condiment should be absolutely dry and clinging to the beans. There should just be a bit of oil on the plate.
Nine of us got together at Peking Cheers in Gaithersburg to see what the chef from Joe’s Noodle House was up to now that he has changed restaurants.
I am sad to report I now have to travel even further to have some of the most interesting Sichuan food around, especially the xiao chi, Sichuan small plates that were the hallmark of JNH. I’ll go back some time to JNH to see how the place recovers from the chef’s departure, but there's no doubt that the menu has been transferred to his new home. We ordered pretty well, but not great:
We started off with the small plates:
Shredded radish in hot sauce – this is a killer dish and remains so
Pickled cabbage szechuan style – slightly disappointing. Was a variety of vegetables at JNH.
Shredded potato salad – disappointing
Smoked fish, only ok
Fried baby smelt with peanuts – the same success as JNH
Seasoned Seaweed – disappointing
Soft Bean Curd Szechuan style – great
We were given two free plates, so I don’t know how they are listed on the menu:
Szechuan Beef Jerky – Same as JNH. Like a block of extremely flavorful clay. Great.
Crispy Shredded Potatoes – sweet, but with a slight peppery kick. A very nice creation.
Our four main dishes were:
Chinese Style Dry Beef Sautee – I believe this is the dish that deangold mentions in his post above, and is a dead ringer for the H-08 from JNH. Another beef jerky. Excellent. At Peking Gourmet Inn and Oriental Gourmet in Arlington this is called Szechuan Beef Proper, but is served very sweet, not spicy at those places.
Stir Fried Clams with Basil in Ginger Dip – this was salty but oh so good. Rich sauce.
String Beans Szechuan style – a bit different than usual. Not the twice cooked preparation. Crisp, fresh tasting. Very nice.
Duck stew with taro – not duck breast, but parts – there were hearts, gizzards, etc This was very tasty, with a fragrant sauce.
Soft bean curd flower with egg white – a gorgeous stew. Silky with crunchy soy nuts added.
FYI, the infamous H-20 from Joe’s Noodle House is listed at Peking Cheers as Spicy Fish Fillet Porridge. Had to save something for next trip.
I have to preface my comments by stipulating that I am not as much a devotee of Szechuan cooking as others on the board but I do have very fond memories of meals at China Star with James G.
I thought that Peking Cheers was fine but I think our meal was a mixed bag. The highlights for me were the soft bean curd szechuan style (silky and savory) and the Chinese style dry beef saute (very tasty and nice contrast of textures.)
The string beans were tasty but I am stll looking for the "old-style twice cooked szechuan string beans" which come out slightly dry and crinkly. Does anyone have a source?
I will say that lunch was a great bargain...all the food listed in Steve's report cost $90.00 before tip--amazing.
I'm somewhere between Steve and Jim in my reaction. I thought the food was very good across the board -- I especially liked the sift bean curd flower (although it could have been a bit more complex in spicing) -- but nothing was revelatory. I sense that the food here would be consistently very good, occasionally superlative, just as at Joe's, and that there might be a great deal of variability across the vast menu. Very much worth further exploration, and a *great* choice if you're up Gaithersburg way.
BTW, from what I've read, the chef is a woman, although I can't vouch for that.
We went last night with a gorup of 8. The food was icredible, better than the food at Joe's at its best. The flavors were layered and complex. The dishes were not as heavily sauced. SOme highlihts:
Tree ears in a hot pickle presentation. I think its called Black Mushroom Salad. Had a Thai feel to it.
Spicy Rabbit Scezuan style- bony bits of bunny in a hot and numb pepper sauce. The sauce was drier and more intense than that of Joes.
Soft Tofu Scezuan style- silky soft tofu with a dense paste as a sauce made with hot chilis, garlic, ginger, green onion pounded to a thick smooth sauce and with hot choli oil. Superb.
Peking Duck carved tableside. The best I've had in a long time althnough the pancakes were a little pasty and tasted commpercial. Not the spingy doughy buns I am used to ,but the duck was great.
dry spicy and crispy beef- insane is the only word to describe this. The beef was crispy, smoky, intense and very dry. The celery and carrots were dank, intensely earthy and the whole dish together was layered with flavor and wildly hot. I can eat a whole plateof this dish at Joe's and probably could not here. But its not about the hot. The dish here sings whth layered flavors and textures. Part of your brain is screaming "WHY?" and the rest is Screaming "MORE!"
Scezuan Wontons in red hot sauce- the best version of this ift poorly made dish I've ahd in years. The won ton slins were tender yet still a little toothy and the filling juicy and fresh.
Spicy chicken gizzards are thin sliced, dry and a little hard and chewy but again with an intensity of flavor.
There was more but I am sitting here in a stupor of flavors and fullness.
Dean--sounds like you had a successful visit. Maybe you have the right feel to order the right things. I wish I could try the place. Next time I'm in town I'll definitely hit PC as well as the reconstituted Hong Kong Palace in 7 Corners.
Has anybody yet had the equivalent of H20 at PC? If so, how was it?
Waiter service, full bar, pretty decent sized place, but don't know about the crowds yet. They were pretty empty last night, but when I used to go there a long time ago (before the Szechuan chef), they were pretty busy for Friday/Saturday dinner. They took a reservation for us last night, but we were a party of 10. Don't know if they'd do the same for 4 on a Saturday.
John, we saw a number of fish dishes, but couldn't really make a 1-1 comparison to the old JNH menu (and specifically looked for H20). It will probably take some match game with the chinese symbols for the dishes (or someone who can read Chinese!) to parse out the same dishes.
Thanks soooo much for the repo, gooseterp! I went there tonight and tried the "chinese dishes". It did taste better than Joe's noodle house. I tried the salty and crispy eggplant you recommended...it was GOOD. I like the garlic sauce in it. Their fish fillet was also very delicious. Strongly recommended to Szechuan food lovers!!!