Peking Quick One is a hidden gem in every sense of the word. The Tonawanda restaurant is in an unassuming strip plaza located on a side street and looks like every other low key neighbor Chinese restaurant that specializes in Sweet and Sour Chicken. Unless you knew that the restaurant had a separate ‘homestyle’ menu (featuring more exotic and authentic fare), you’d never know how good their food could be. For a couple years we’ve heard of local Chinese/Korean/Vietnamese restaurants having special menus that the normal diners never saw, much of the time those menus weren’t even printed in English. But thanks to articles written in Buffalo Spree and the Buffalo News, the secret ‘homestyle’ menu has become more accessible and a lot less secret. At Peking Quick One they’ve translated their homestyle menu to English and have a large stack of them (see menu in gallery) placed right next to the ‘normal’ menu.
We arrived to the restaurant on a Saturday night and found the small dining room packed with people having conversations in several different languages. Luckily a table cleared just as we arrived and we sat down immediately. I went to the counter to place our order and was instructed to just circle the numbers on the menu and grab some drinks from the nearby cooler.
We ordered a lot of food for just the two of us but we had planned on taking leftovers for the following day. Alli still wanted to order her guilty pleasure staple of chicken with broccoli while I ordered the Orange Beef, Double Cooked Pork and Spicy and Sour Shredded Potatoes off their ‘homestyle’ menu for us to share. The chicken with broccoli (below) was tasty but pretty predictable, Alli thought it was definitely above average but not worth a special trip.
The dishes that we ordered off the ‘homestyle’ menu were another story; all three of them were delicious and definitely worth the drive up to Tonowanda. When I first heard about Peking’s ‘homestyle’ menu, I assumed there would be a lot of offal meats that would scare away the average eater. But when I finally got to look over the options, I was surprised to see some pretty familiar flavors. Sure you’ll see tripe, pork liver and chopped chicken legs, but you’ll also find orange beef, salty pepper shrimp and sweet & sour pork ribs.
The hot & sour potatoes ($5, gallery) were exactly that, shredded potatoes and bean sprouts with a lot of spicy and sour seasonings. The crunch and flavor was really interesting, and while I wouldn’t make the dish the focus of a meal, it was definitely a nice side dish. The orange beef ($9.50, top) was delicious; the beef was sliced thin and very crispy and coated in sweet and spicy, zesty glaze. The spicy double-cooked pork ($9, above) was my favorite dish of the night; the fried fatty pieces of pork were coated in chili oil, seasoned heavily and very salty. It had the strongest flavor out of any of the dishes and I would love to have a couple beers next time I eat it. The edges were crispy and had an awesome crunch but there was still enough fat to add some wonderful flavor without making each bite too chewy.
The meal was really great and the experience of walking into an unassuming Chinese restaurant and ordering off a ‘secret menu’ felt very cool. With the press that Peking Quick One has been getting lately, that menu isn’t that much of a secret anymore but that’s a good thing. If the owners see a new group of people ordering the weirder/tastier stuff, they may hopefully add more options to the menu. Watching the transition and success of Sun going from a dive-y grocery store with a fairly standard menu to a renovated restaurant with a menu that’s heavily focused on Burmese cuisine has been awesome. I’d love to see a similar experience occur with Peking Quick One, or at least an expansion of their dining room and homestyle menu.