Peking Express is known by most in the Ohio University community simply by the price of its food. The “$4.50 Chinese” place (It used to be the “$3.95 Chinese place” but like all costs, this one is up) has lost some of the allure it used to offer with discounts, but it still stays popular among extremely frugal, cash-strapped students. Unfortunately, the small shop inside a larger shopping area shows there is only so far you can go before the cost is worth the extra taste.
The small family-run store looks a lot like something you’d find in the food court of a mall. The friendly employees attract college kids to the eatery with the simple sign in front that offers rice and any three dishes for just $4.50. At that bare-bones cost, a person can get some decent foods from the dozens they offer. There is a healthy variety of beef, chicken and vegetable offerings, and the meal, served in a to-go box by default, will fill practically anyone up.
The General Tso’s Chicken, Bourbon Chicken and Sesame Chicken are three of the most popular offerings. Each comes with a very sweet sauce which goes well on the rice. However, none is too crispy. I don’t know what they use to bread their chicken, but it results in an uneven and very strange texture. Not the best iteration I’ve ever seen of the dishes, but it’ll do.
Other strong dishes include the Crab Rangoon, egg rolls and Japanese chicken. Unfortunately, many of the dishes with large amounts of vegetables aren’t all that great; be it cheap vegetables or cheap cooking techniques, something doesn’t quite add up. I suggest steering clear of anything too green, which basically dismisses any hope of getting a healthy meal.
Around meal times, the store always attracts a large number of international students and frugal undergrads, but almost I almost never see anyone else at the store. Rock bottom costs may appeal to the frugal, but the taste of the food leaves one wanting. Fried dishes taste fine, but if you want anything healthier or more creative, you will be disappointed to find the taste lacking. I hate to say it, but $4.50 will get you a plate of decent fried food, or a plate of bland alternatives. This may appeal to the average college kid, but if you want something more than a quick box of fried fun to go, I would steer clear of this place.
- Peking Express opens late for a food place — 11 a.m. is when the food starts coming to the line. Don’t plan on an early lunch here.
- Conversely, the eatery offers a deal for the late night craving — patrons who come in after the kitchen closes at 9 p.m. get their pick of the leftovers for $3.00 a box.
- Though this place specializes in food to-go, there is a sizable dining room to eat in, too.