Budget Crunch: Peking Quick One
If I could choose just two words to describe Peking Quick One, they would be “unassuming” and “delicious.” Tucked away in a strip mall off of Brighton Avenue in Tonawanda, this small treasure surprises at every turn.
Pull up to Peking Quick One and you’ll likely think, “This looks just like every other Chinese take-out joint in Western New York.” Walk in and the large, lit-up photos of Americanized Chinese food on the wall will confirm that impression. Just grab yourself a cup of self-serve tea and take a seat; you’re not here for the décor. If you prize ambience over taste in a dining experience, Peking Quick One is not for you. If you’re all about getting the most authentic, delicious Chinese meal you can, sit down and get ready.
And be sure to order off of the Chinese Homestyle menu, not the regular menu. The regular menu is, well, regular. The homestyle menu, on the other hand, has dishes like whole fish with ginger, garlic, chilies, and scallions. I’ve been eating my way through this secret menu on my many, many visits to Peking Quick One over the past several months. And it’s been such a delight to find this kind of cooking at a local restaurant that I have yet to thoroughly examine the regular menu. There’s simply no need. The homestyle menu is divided into six sections: appetizers, main dishes, vegetable dishes, meat dishes, seafood dishes, and soups. So far I’ve only encountered one dish that I wouldn’t order again. (It’s the Honey Walnut Shrimp, which is a breaded, fried dish with a very sweet sauce.) Here are just a few of my favorites.
The Northeast Style Wonton Soup (listed under main dishes, $4.95) is deceptively similar looking to the wonton soup we’ve come to expect from Chinese take-out restaurants. The difference here, however, is in the broth. There’s a depth of flavor that delights. It’s also a great dish to get if you’re skeptical of trying new things or if you’re bringing children who might want to eat something familiar. For those wanting a different flavor profile, the Seaweed Egg Drop Soup is an absolute steal at $2.80. And for those who really want to tickle their tongues, try the cold Boiled Shredded Pork Tripe with Chili Oil ($6.50). Tripe is a textural experience that works really well with the bite of the chili oil in this dish.
Entrées at Peking Quick One are generous. It’s best to eat family style at this place—get a few dishes for everyone to share. You’ll be rewarded for your willingness to try new things, because a couple of dishes at Peking Quick One are the best I’ve had in Western New York. For example, the Orange Beef ($9.50) has small bits of rind in the tangy sauce and comes with the perfect meat-to-vegetables ratio. Another favorite is the Steamed Flounder (price varies, usually around $12). You’ll get a whole fish served to your table, perfectly spiced with ginger, garlic, scallions, and chili. The dish requires a bit of work to eat, but it is absolutely worth the effort.
If you’re looking for vegetables, consider the Stir-Fried String Beans ($5). Please be aware that they are not vegetarian; they’re seasoned with small bites of beef. Same goes for the Pan-fried Tofu with Egg ($5.95). This dish is delicious, and the serving size is huge, but the dish includes pork. Other tasty options include Mapo Tofu (a spicy Sichuan dish that pairs tofu, meat, peppercorns, bean paste, and fermented black beans), which, for the low price of $5.50 will offer you the uniquely Sichuan experience of heat (chili) and numbness (peppercorns).
Peking Quick One has the kind of menu that is embraced by adventurous eaters. The restaurant, though plain, is clean and the service is both warm and efficient, even with an intermittent language barrier. You’ll likely find yourself surrounded by students from the University at Buffalo, young people who come here for food that reminds them of home. The secret’s out; now it’s your turn. You’ll leave full and happy—and probably plotting your next visit.
Peking Quick One
359 Somerville Ave.,
Tonawanda, NY 14150
Rachel Fix Dominguez writes features and food coverage for Buffalo Spree.