Peking Garden, a small Chinese food place in the Dillonvale Shopping Center near the Kenwood Mall, is a family-run experiment I can only begin to understand. The store opened in the early 2000s serving purely Chinese food, but has since added a smoothie bar at the front of the store. Inexplicable as it may sound, the smoothie bar/Chinese food combination seems to be keeping Peking Garden in business, though run by the same small family.
The shop bases its business on the principle of budget Chinese food, and it does not do a bad job when offering lunch items for just above $5. The corners the store cuts are somewhat alarming though; the waitresses consist of two under-10-year-old girls and their mother, while my biggest complaint about Peking Garden is that the dining room is sometimes messy. The tables look dirty and used dishes are deposited into a container right next to the tables. Apparently they also need to invest in a store room; boxes are piled just about anywhere about the dining area.
The service can be spoken of but the menu can not. I have visited Peking Garden infrequently over the past eight years, and the staff always remembers me (and that I like my meals extra spicy) and I consider that to be excellent service. However, the food on the menu leaves much to be desired. With fried noodles and egg rolls as appetizers, you are immediately inundated with grease. Many of the vegetable dishes are bland, leaving you few options on the healthy side.
Even the chef’s specials menu shows a lack of ambition in the restaurant’s menu. Stereotypical dishes like Kung Pao Beef, Sweet and Sour Chicken and General Tso’s Chicken fill out the list of specialty items. These items are good; the cook clearly knows how to cook meat and rice and can also make good sauce, but beyond those things, I have found the menu otherwise uninspiring. Peking Garden has the market cornered on cheap, fried, forgettable Chinese take out, but I wouldn’t consider it for much beyond that.