Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Cautiously Recommended: New Old Peking

Old Peking has been bravely dishing out Chinese food at Speedway and Tucson Boulevard since 1975, with a few blips here and there in the form of, oh, going out of business a few times and reopening and reinventing and closing again. They reopened with fanfare and plastic flags a couple of weeks ago, and on the basis of three dishes we can say, what the hell, give it a shot.

Unlike old Old Peking, nothing we ordered looked like it was dumped out of a freezer bag. The crab puffs (a very guilty pleasure which we do not actually feel guilty about one whit, thank you) were tiny and sparsely stuffed, but we got seven instead of the advertised six, and they appeared to have been quickly fried in nice hot oil, and so weren't greasy. The sauce served with them was an unfortunate amalgamation of ketchup and honey, we think, which was maybe not the best choice, but it wasn't half bad and didn't kill us. Sesame beef on the menu equates to a mountain of sesame beef and only sesame beef--not a vegetable to be seen--on the plate, which pleased my carnivorous son to no end. Simple, hot, savory, just a tad sweet, very very very tasty. My Szechuan tofu featured nine kinds of fresh vegetables cut into pleasingly large chunks and, shockingly, not cooked to a homogenous goo! Hooray for new Old Peking! The big triangles of tofu were pleasingly firm; the sauce had a nip to it and, stunningly, did not include worrisome pools of oil floating on top! Unlike old Old Peking!

We got out for under seventeen bucks and had leftovers for one boy meal and two me meals.

Note: if you are the only people in the restaurant, the very friendly waitress will strike up a conversation that will last through most of your meal. Given the economic climate and old Old Peking's last-resort reputation, she is understandably anxious about people (1) realizing they're open again and (2) liking the food enough to come back. She quizzed us on how long we'd lived in Tucson, how often we'd come to the previous incarnation of the restaurant, how we knew they had re-opened, whether three in the afternoon was an odd time for us to be eating, how we thought the food compared to the old version, can you be more specific please, and how we liked the flyers they had just had printed up and if we would make any changes on said flyers to make people more likely to come in. But somehow it wasn't nearly as annoying as it sounds.

10% off through the end of 2008, with killer lunch specials every day and the threat of live Clavinova music weekend nights. Go lonely and hungry, leave feeling full and loved.

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