When the short-lived Black Forest Restaurant was placed on the auction block in 1983, the late Dr. Don Lim, a dentist, put in his bid “just for the fun of it,” recalled his daughter-in-law, Cecilia Lim, in a previous history.
She said Dr. Lim was stunned to find himself owning a restaurant. He brought in another doctor as his business partner. But not until his son Randy Lim, a trained pharmacist, and his Hong Kong-born wife Cecilia took over, did Peking House become the full-fledged success it remains today.
The couple sold their restaurant to its current owners: Andy Yee, who doubles as the chef, and Peona Tong. The interior of Peking House still looks elegant, despite the paper placemats with Chinese horoscopes. A full-service bar is a big asset.
Manager Nancy Lau’s pleasant, well-trained staff tends to as many as 186 guests on the main floor, while another 200 can be accommodated in the upstairs banquet room. I’ve attended a few wedding showers and bar mitzvah parties there myself.
With so much space, Peking House is a convenient choice for most gatherings. Yet, that wouldn’t be good enough if the Chinese cuisine wasn’t up to par, too. I’m here to tell you that the food served in generous portions at Peking House is more than tasty.
Diners will appreciate that the kitchen forgoes MSG and uses vegetable oil only in its food preparation. The best-selling items include these classic dishes: chicken sizzling rice soup for two, and both the sweet-and-sour and almond boneless chicken, referred to as “ABC.”
The No. 1 choice, however? “General Tso’s Chicken is everyone’s favorite,” said Lau without hesitation. A thick, sweet sauce covers crispy battered portions of white meat. Vegetable rice accompanies.
The list of house specialties begins with crispy duck, a twice-cooked half duckling. I ordered another specialty, Hong Kong steak, which was marinated nicely and cooked medium-rare to my specifications. The steak was presented on a sizzling iron platter, atop loads of sauteed vegetables.
Other specialties are Mongolian chicken, white breast meat marinated with curry and Chinese barbecue sauce and served with green pepper and onions; Gold Coin Beef, tender filet mignon cut into the shape of gold coins and served with mixed vegetables; and Singapore rice noodles with curry, a dish that includes chicken, shrimp and roast pork.
A standout among the vegetarian selections is the thickly sliced eggplant in garlic sauce — that entree was a big hit with my husband. More choices are vegetable silver noodles, vegetable egg foo young and tofu prepared two ways.
The hot-and-sour soup served here is as zesty as it should be. The appetizer list includes mussels in black bean sauce, frog legs in garlic butter, coconut chicken and either fried or steamed dumplings.
I’m getting hungry again.
215 S. Washington
Royal Oak, MI 48067
$$$½ out of $$$$$