Sunday, February 15, 2009

Training in DC-and the Peking Gourmet Inn

How can it have been a month since my last post?Well, it has been a busy time,with budget season and the new Congress and stimulus package excitement making my day job crazy, and tons of freelance work with super-tight deadlines taking up my free (?!) hours during the evening and weekends,when I cook it has primarily been just to get everyone fed. However, I want to share a food experience I had on a recent jaunt to Washington DC.

Learning about the new Congress is part of my day job, so when I had to attend a 1-day workshop in DC, I decided to drive up the night before and stay with Katie and Gavin in the big city (well, kind of, they live in Arlington) Since I hate driving at night I left in time to get to their place by evening and hung out with Gavin until Katie got off from work at 7 PM. I know you won't believe this but after lamenting how I hate taking down Christmas decorations, I ended up taking down Katie's Christmas tree and packing up her holiday things (it had to be done, and I guess she inherited the I-hate-taking-down-Christmas-stuff-gene from me), while Gavin introduced me to his latest collection of YouTube favorites.

When Katie returned, she was so excited,saying she was taking me somewhere special for dinner we drove to an unassuming little strip mall to the Peking Gourmet Inn in Falls Church. I had heard about this restaurant from my husband who had gone with Katie on his big weekend going to the Redskins game (one of the few games they won this season!), so I was prepared that when we drove up, it had a unassuming facade in a little strip mall. Once we stepped inside I was pleasantly surprised, the restaurant was cozy without being cramped, and I was greeted with the restaurants"wall of fame" sporting pictures of all the politicos and celebrities that have come there to eat (this restaurant was apparently President George 41's favorite).

We settled into a booth and were greeted by Mr.Wong, a friendly and experienced server. we looked at the menu trying to pick from the dishes.Peking duck, the restaurants specialty,was a no-brainer since we all love that, and you cannot go to a Chinese restaurant without eggrolls. Katie is not as fond of spicy dishes and Gavin and I both like spicy so we tried to find a mix of foods that we could enjoy. We finally settled on Sweet and Sour Chicken (Katie's choice) and Szechwan Beef Proper (Gavin's choice).

While going to a new restaurant to eat is a fun experience, going to a meal with Katie and Gavin is an experience in and of itself . They pick at and insult each other, all in fun, of course and they are just so funny together- they have such a great relationship and it is so much fun to be with them. Mr Wong brought our eggrolls first and they were delicious, crisp on he outside with tender,well seasoned insides that were not laden with grease as can often happen when cooking eggrolls. You can see that Gavin gave these the thumbs-up! Frankly, I could have eaten more but I didn't want to fill up with all the food we had ordered.

Next, a small table was set up beside us, signaling the coming of the Peking duck. This was dramatically presented and artfully carved right at the table. Our server was more than pleased to pose with the deliciously crisp and fragrant duck before carving, and he ensured each serving had a mix of crisp skin succulent white and dark meat. As he carved he carefully removed any excess fat so that our Mandarin pancakes were full of the flavors that make Peking duck so delightful. It was so delicious, a special treat since I hadn't had Peking duck in a really long time. The duck was such a star , that the other dishes paled in comparison. The sweet and sour chicken was just okay and the Szechwan beef proper was not what I expected (sweet-hot) and was more like beef candy, however it was really pretty. As you can see,though, Gavin gave the whole dinner a thumbs-up!

I know you won't believe that after all this food we actually were interested in dessert, but Katie really thought the toffee bananas sounded great and we decided we could share. Gavin wanted to try the coconut ice cream so we took the plunge, but our server informed us that the bananas were too soft for toffee bananas but we could have toffee apples instead. We were in for another tableside show with our dessert as well. The server dipped the apple chunks that had been coated in batter and fried into a bowl of toffee sauce and then dropped them one by one in a bowl of ice water so that the morsels developed a crunchy exterior- it was great, like a Chinese version of apple pie - we ate every bite. We had a taste of Gavin's coconut ice cream which was awesome and we agreed that next time we would have the toffee apples and ice cream together.

We left the restaurant stuffed, with our take-home boxes in hand. The experience was really fun, but next time I would increase the eggrolls and have just the Peking duck with perhaps a veggie dish on the side, because the duck was clearly the star of the meal. I know our picture won't end upon the wall of fame, but the Peking Gourmet Inn still treated us like we were celebrities!


veron said...

Oh Deborah, the mere mention of Peking duck has me drooling over this keyboard!

Cynthia said...

Dang! Look at that crispy skin!

andin said...

hii deborah....peking duck...very very very delicious taste

Deborah Dowd said...

Veron-Does it tome every time!

Cynthia -I wish I was a better photographer to do it justice!

Andin-I enjoyed every bite- the flavors and textures make it one of my favorites!

Max mickle said...

I've been gone to Peking Gourmet Inn and I agree it's a place no one should miss. They have great food and service and I visit frequently. Those pictures look amazing... colorful and bright, they can give you a modified.I like this kind of pictures. thanks for those gorgeous ones.

Anonymous said...

My family ate at the Peking Gourmet Inn a couple years ago when my cousin graduated from Georgetown. The Beef Proper is excellent; family-style Chinese food that can't be beat!

sashi said...

Hi Deborah,

Peking duck is my all time favourite in asian cruisine.I just to be there eating not looking at the pic LOL .Very nice blog.


San Jose restaurant scene said...

I tried Beef Proper in this Inn which was excellent. I have visited the restaurant but did not have enough time to have a look at the pictures and things. Thanks for sharing.