Pekin: Surprisingly authentic every day of the year

29/Octubre/2012 | 13:38

By Lance Brashear

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In a competitive world where bragging rights often go to the first or the biggest, sometimes we tend to overlook the most authentic.  Though they make no such claim to being such, a meal at Pekin Restaurant and a conversation with the owners assures that the only thing they try to do, and have done for 38 years, is offer their food, something the people of Quito enjoy every day of the year.

Pekin is run by Javier Chujon, whose father Juan Chu opened the restaurant almost four decade ago.  In the beginning, “we had a coffee shop in old town….Chifa Chan Chan, near the Plaza Grande,” says Javier.  His father decided he wanted something more elegant.  At the time, there were other Chinese restaurants, but not many.

“We are open seven days a week; 365 days a year…it is like a hotel, we have to work every day.” Even Christmas?  “Yes.  People have had their Christmas dinner and they are tired of eating turkey and they want something else.”

After 25 years at their first location on Belohorizonte and Coruña, they moved to their current location on Whymper, but like most Chinese restaurants, location seems less important because half of their sales are for take-out.  But whether take-out or dine-in, there is one way to eat the food.

“With Chinese food the idea is to share it.  There are plates in the middle and everyone tries a little of everything,” says Javier.

Groups of four are encouraged to try the special menu with primavera rolls, crab soup, fried shrimp, chicken and pork, special barbeque pork ribs, and fried chicken in honey sauce.  “My father created this combo in order to give exposure to certain plates, like the chicken in honey sauce,” says Javier. 

But often people come with something specific in mind, such as sweet and sour ____ (you fill in the blank with pork, chicken, or wantons).  Sweet and sour sauces are usually house creations at Chinese restaurants and Pekin is no exception. Javier makes theirs with vinegar, tomato sauce, pineapple, chili pepper, and sugar.

If you are looking for something stronger and not so sweet, he recommends a dish with their tausi sauce.  “Tausi is a sauce made from a base of fermented soy beans.  We grind it with garlic and at the moment we serve we prepare a little chili pepper.  It is very strong but delicious,” he says.  Pekin offers chicken, meat, shrimp, and lobster tausi.

Though the meats and vegetables at Pekin are procured locally, it is the special ingredients that go into things like tausi sauce, which are imported. “We manage a lot of Chinese products – the sauces, mushrooms, seaweed, and condiments.” says Javier.  He says it helps to differentiate them from other restaurants in terms of flavor and quality.

But there is one item they neither import nor purchase locally: tallarin noodles.  “My father opened a factory 25 years ago,” explains Javier.  In the beginning it supplied their own restaurant tallarin and wanton noodles but today, under the direction of Javier´s sister, he says the factory makes noodles for almost every Chinese restaurant in northern and central Ecuador, including their own.

Though Chinese menus are known for being extensive, most restaurants often have only a couple of soups – wanton and egg drop usually come to mind.  But Pekin has more than a dozen soups, including a few you probably have never tried.

“Soup is very common in Chinese cuisine,” says Javier.  It is also a popular dish in Ecuador, which may partially explain the extensive offerings, besides the fact that his father, Juan, is a soup-lover.

“Personally, I like the crab soup,” Javier says.  Among the other options are two that are particularly eye catching, the “caldo de menudencias” (giblet broth) and “sopa pacpow” (a much richer version of the giblet broth).

“The giblet broth has ginger and nabo leaves,” explains Javier.  “The sopa pacpow has chicken, shrimp, gizzards, rice pasta, Chinese mushrooms, egg white, celery and pepper.”

What else does Javier like that he would recommend from the menu?  Pekin duck, prawns, and pork ribs.

But if you want something truly unique, ask for what they can cook off the menu.  They can surprise you with dishes like tilapia steamed with ginger and onion or “pichon” (pigeon) both in a soup and a main dish.  Whether on or off the menu, Javier assures, “Our food is delightful, with color, texture, and flavor.”

Pekin Restaurant is located on Whymper 300 & Av. Orellana.  For reservations or take out, call 250-4984, 223-5273, or 289-4913.  They are open Monday-Saturday, 12-3:30 p.m. and 6-10 p.m. and Sundays, 12-8 p.m.  

Soups and starters average $6.00 and most main dishes are $8-10.  Pekin Duck (half duck) is $19.20, while langostinos are $17.  The special menu for four is $57.50, taxes and service included.


Ciudad Quito

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