Monday, November 21, 2011

Peking Gourmet Inn

I am a late-comer to Peking Gourmet Inn. My first contact with it was through another blogger's post: Toastable's post was the most loving review about peking duck I had ever read.  I was completely drawn in by his description of how "an ancient man named Wu" delicately carved thin slices of duck tableside. Poking around Yelp and Urbanspoon, I discovered that the restaurant was well known, had been patronized and popularized by the Bush administration, and was already well written up by reviewers. My friends Ken and Daniela, my across-the-bridge dining mates, also seemed to know about it. "Better make a reservation", said Daniela, when we were planning our trip there. I didn't realize it at the time, but reservations are essential on the weekends, even for an early dinner.

So, I am not here to repeat what others have written about the home grown scallion, the handcrafted pancakes, and the house recipe hoisin sauce. Nor to rave about the duck itself (in fact, I have had better). What I really want to write about is the service. The facade of Peking Gourmet Inn is nondescript; it's in a NoVa strip mall like so many other ethnic restaurants. But step inside, and you immediately know you are in a grand place. Well dressed Chinese hostesses radiate professionalism as they greet you from the podium. They manage to combine warmth and efficiency as they check your name off the reservations list and bustle you to your table. For a busy restaurant patronized by high profile guests, the welcome is admirable. Soon you are seated in a large dining room, reminiscent of uptown New York in its elegance and scale.

Before long a waitress appears. Her service is personal and expert: she seems to be a foodie and indulges our curiousity with informative answers to our questions. She stays close to us throughout the meal, first carving and slicing the duck, then scraping the fat off the skin,  finally wrapping both meat and crispy skin in pancakes smeared with hoisin sauce and stuffed with  home grown scallion. Deft, is the word.

Each time we finish a pancake, she reappears to wrap another one. By the time we have finished our meal, we feel stuffed and pampered. Too stuffed to move, in fact, so we order dessert. We linger, and are not rushed. It's not often you get this kind of service. When we finally bestir ourselves to leave, I feel we have had dinner in a bygone era.  Then we step blinking into the late summer light of a strip mall parking lot.

To Die For: Service

Photo credits:
Ken Marty 

Peking Gourmet Inn on Urbanspoon

1 comment: said...

It was very nice to meet you at the food and wine bloggers event! Keep up the good posts!