Peking Gourmet Inn--Is there anything else good besides the Peking Duck?
The Food Network just had a show this weekend about their hosts' favorite holiday food. Ace of Cakes' Duff Goldman raved about the Peking duck at Peking Gourmet Inn. It looked great but I don't want to go there only for the duck. Does the menu have anything else worth ordering? From reading other Chowhound posts, I have the impression the rest of Peking Gourmet Inn's menu consists of rather mediocre Americanized Chinese food.
garlic sprouts with your choice of protien. Their best dish.
kung pao chicken. This will be an *authentic* dry-fried version, but alas no sichuan peppercorns - you could always ask for it spicy, though.
szechuan beef proper. This is a very sweet version of this famous sichuan beef jerky dish. Again, no sichuan peppercorns, but if you ask for it spicy. that will counteract the sweetness.
Ditto to the recommendation for anything with garlic sprouts, although I strongly prefer shrimp with sprouts.
If I'm with a group, I'm willing to order the Sichuan Beef Proper. If I'm dining only with my husband, I'm unwilling. I think the dish is too sweet to eat more than a tiny portion.
Jeo-Yan Shrimp. This tastes best when the shrimp are prepared with their shells on, but that requires a willingness to peel the shrimp before eating. If this is a problem, be sure to ask that the dish be prepared with the shrimp already shelled.
The moo shu pork tends to be reasonably good, but you wouldn't want to order this since you'll be ordering a duck.
Chinese leek dumplings.
If you like spicy foods, ask for Uncle Charlie's sauce although we noticed some dumbing down of the heat level on our last trip.
Once, my husband and I took our son and his then-current girlfriend out to dinner at PGI. I think we frightened the young lady when the three of us made up our minds about what to order in about 5 seconds. She certainly commented on our speed. Of course, our decision making isn't a great skill when the better dishes are so well-known to us.
re: Indy 67
Call me American, but I think their Szechuan Beef Proper is one of the best versions I've tasted. Sure, it's sweet. A friend who I eat with frequently orders that dish (usually under a more descriptive name of "dry fried shredded beef") any time we go to a Chinese restaurant, so I've had a taste of it at several places in the NoVA area. The most candy-like version I've had, I think, has been at East Chateau in Vienna, but it's still good.
Curiously, Hong Kong Palace does a good version, too, but it's not on the Chinese menu, only on the paper take-out menu. When I take my beef-loving friend to HKP, he won't order the crispy Szechuan beef because it's not on the "real" menu. Go figure.
I'm not trying to claim any Chinese bona fides. My comment reflects the fact that I can only tolerate sweet with meat in very small doses authentic Chinese or not. I don't like Duck a l'Orange if the glaze skews sweet. I don't like brisket with prunes and apricots.
I've got to confess to a sentimental spot for PGI. In 2002, my husband and I took a trip to China. We were with a university group of seventeen travelers. Six of the seventeen happened to be from the DC area although none of us knew one another. The remaining eleven travelers came from all over the US.
One of the things that attracted my husband and me to this particular trip was that no more than half of the dinners were provided giving us the chance to try out the most authentic restaurants we could locate. Admittedly, this was in my pre-Chowhound days so we may have gone to places Hounds would have disdained. However, we certainly tried for authenticity. We asked our local guides where they like to eat or we asked employees in stores who had some English fluency rather than asking the concierge at our hotels.
Generally, we found that our meals at Peking Gourmet Inn had prepared us well. The jump from food we'd get at PGI wasn't as big a leap for us -- or the other Washingtonians -- as it was for folks from other parts of the US. In fact, the biggest difference was one of style over substance. For example, in China, chicken was hacked into pieces each of which might include skin and bone rather than PGI's version which debones and skins the meat before cutting. In China, shrimp was intended to be eaten with its shell still on. We couldn't go there and I remember Sichuan dishes where my husband and I fished the shrimp out of the sauce and peeled the shrimp before eating. But we definitely weren't freaked out by Sichuan-hot on our nights of independent eating.
On the days when the group ate together, the only people who were happy with the food were the DC folks. We quickly realized that our common link was dining at Peking Gourmet Inn. (The one dish that I simply couldn't eat more than a bite was the one with slices of pig's ear. The cartilage was just too resistent and chewy.)
Sentiment aside, I don't think the food at PGI today is quite as good as the food from years ago, but I can still enjoy an occasional meal there by sticking to the dishes everyone has already identified.
The four season green beans are good. The quality is still pretty good at Peking Gourmet, but the cuisine is Mandarin, which is overall not as exciting (to me, at least) as the numerous other regional Chinese specialties now available all over suburban DC. The duck is the deal here and still probably the best in the area. I also like their hang-chow fried rice, which is a lighter, fluffier version than you find in most places. But really, it's all about the Peking duck.