Food

New Peking

A Chinese paradise awaits

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

For seven years I’ve regularly driven past the familiar stretch of Samish Way, checking out the folks loitering outside motels and quietly judging everyone exiting McDonald’s.

Over and over, I’ve wondered about New Peking, the Chinese restaurant next door to Pizza Pipeline that, from the outside, looks suspiciously like a Mafia front. The windows are small and the blinds are always shut, there are never more than two cars in the parking lot, and large Chinese masks outside leer menacingly at your approach.

In a nutshell, I’ve always been way too sketched out to actually give the place a shot.

My friend Amy, however, is a maverick of under-loved food establishments and has spent quite a bit of time in China. She insisted that New Peking not only had authentic and tasty food, but that it was also warm and welcoming and owned by a charming Chinese couple she adored. We agreed to meet for lunch, and since I arrived a few minutes before her, I took some time to soak in the surroundings.

I was surprised to see that, unlike its exterior, it is exceptionally cheerful inside. Red lanterns and dragons swing from the ceilings. A tiny rainforest of fake potted plants dot the space, and little paper slips from fortune cookies are tucked into the brick walls. The booths are a little dingy. The water glasses are a little foggy. But it feels honest and humble, and I was instantly comfortable. When Amy arrived, the owners—Sam and Jessica Chang—rushed to greet her in Chinese. She sat at my table and they all chatted and laughed for a while as I smiled and tried to catch the gist of it all.

Naturally, they love Amy because she speaks Chinese, is clever and tough and pretty, and brings them all the business she can. Their soft spot for her is charming, and the whole interaction felt familial and welcoming. Even though I can’t speak a lick of Chinese, I didn’t mind the conversation at all.

Eventually we peered at our menus and I pretty much relegated Amy to be in charge of ordering. She told me that New Peking’s orange chicken ($8.95) is unlike any of that syrupy orange chicken we’ve all had, so we ordered it. She’s also a fan of the sautéed mushrooms, bean sprouts, pea pods and broccoli ($8.50) and the hot and sour soup (cup/$1.50, bowl $5.50).

It was a great relief to have her help ordering because, frankly, most items on the menu looked intriguing and there were far too many options to ponder when I was already hungry. Though I was tempted by the crispy aromatic duck ($11.95 for half a duck), and the plethora of seafood entrees, I ended up completely satisfied with what we ordered.

The hot and sour soup is unusually good. It is thick and rich, unapologetically beefy, and chock full of wood ear mushrooms and bamboo shoots. Sam told me that it is the perfect remedy to a cold, and I didn’t doubt him for a second. It was spicy enough that I could feel my sinuses opening up, but I was never uncomfortable from the heat (i.e. my lips never caught on fire).  Shortly after we finished our soup, Jessica arrived with the entrees and a large bowl of white rice while Sam ceremoniously handed us our red chopsticks.

Amy was right—the orange chicken was so much better than any other I’ve had. Made with real oranges, it’s still sticky and sweet, but not in the candy-coated fashion I became accustomed to while growing up in the suburbs, eating strip-mall Chinese food. Those dishes always ended up soggy and saccharine, but this orange chicken was perfectly crunchy and sweet yet tangy. The vegetable dish, though simple, was hearty and perfectly sautéed, the vegetables still a little crisp and not too oily.

In Chinese dining fashion, we ate slowly, talking leisurely between bites of steamed rice and chicken that managed to stay delicious even though it was stone-cold by the time we finished it. With about 12 pots of tea and a couple of fortune cookies in our bellies, we paid our bill and bid Sam and Jessica zàijiàn, promising to come again soon. 

Who knew the unassuming little building on a busy road could house so much kindness and such good food? For me, New Peking is a new favorite, and I plan to bring plenty of friends the next time I go so I can try more of their extensive menu.

Visit Sally’s food blog at http://www.wolfsoup.com

 

 

 

 

SVCR Wynnona
More Food...
SeaFeast
Get an edible education

If you’re under the impression the second annual Bellingham SeaFeast is all about the food, you’re only only partially correct.

While it’s true the two-day event offers myriad ways for people to sate their appetites via the ingestion of locally and regionally sourced seafood, the…

more »
Market Walk
Dine your way through downtown

I’ve always felt incredibly lucky to live within walking and biking distance of downtown Bellingham. It’s where I head when I go to work, bank, shake my booty, listen to array of music, check out original art, see live theater, shop for groceries, dine out and meet friends for cocktails or…

more »
Zucchini 101
Dealing with the squash of summer

If you don’t typically lock your door, now would be a good time to start. Behind the usual pleasantries, your neighbors are probing you for weakness, trying to decide who among you would be most likely to break and accept a bag-load of zucchinis, or leaving the prolific produce on porches…

more »
Events
Today
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

The Addams Family Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Forever Plaid

7:30pm|Conway Muse

The Mousetrap

7:30pm| Bellingham Theatre Guild

Figmentally, Circus for All

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

Harvest Happens

8:00am|Bellewood Acres

Bellingham Bay Marathon

7:30am|Gooseberry Point

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Eat Local Month's Restaurant Week

8:00am|Whatcom County

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Oyster Run Motorcycle Rally

9:00am|Anacortes

Audubon at the Museum

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Whatcom Chorale Benefit Concert

3:00pm|St. Paul's Episcopal Church

MBT Janis Joplin
Tomorrow
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Eat Local Month's Restaurant Week

8:00am|Whatcom County

Pizza Class

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Open Mic

7:00pm|Village Books

Scrooge the Musical Auditions

7:00pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Poetrynight

8:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

2020 Solutions Sept 2017 Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Tuesday
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Eat Local Month's Restaurant Week

8:00am|Whatcom County

Scrooge the Musical Auditions

7:00pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Dog Day Afternoon

3:30pm|South Whatcom Library

Foray Into Fall Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Bellingham Reads

6:30pm|Bellingham Public Library

The Diking of the Delta

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hal

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Comedy Open Mic

7:30pm|Shakedown

Teton Gravity Research

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

see our complete calendar »

Village Books BOB_2017 Trove MBT Janis Joplin 2020 Solutions Sept 2017 Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Bellingham Farmer’s Market