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Peking Inn (Camarillo CA)
||330 North Latana Street,|
Camarillo, CA 93010
Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Summer Volume: 2006 Issue: 13(2) page: 19 and 36
Peking Inn offers well made and wonderful Chinese food, dim sum and vegetarian and other healthy options. It is on freeway 101N some fifty miles northwest of Los Angeles. Check street names carefully, you need to get to North Lantana and the Paseo Camarillo Shopping Center. We enjoy the drive and the desert scenery on this stretch of the El Camino Highway. The beautiful ride prepares you for some delightful Chinese food.
Before wandering inside, on the far side of the center we ask half dozen folk about their Mexican, Italian, steak, and other restaurants. The lady from Chicago has yet to try any, three verbal responders say "go to Peking Inn" not even asking if we like Chinese food. Amazing; and we do understand why. Their extensive regular and dim sum menus are beautiful, both loaded with color photographs; their pictures are worth a thousand words. We salivate in anticipation.
This family owned restaurant is here two dozen years and going strong. Their dim sum alone is worth the trip. We sample ten of the fifty pictured items and every one is very, very good, one is just phenomenal. That is their Sesame Pocket. It can be had with sliced pork, chicken, beef, minced pork, or vegetables in its interior, and we devour two of them; one with minced pork, the other with sliced pork. Our drive and these beauties make our day! We recommend taking some home; and if we lived nearby, filling our freezer would be a goal. Their pastry is flaky, tasty, even addictive; and to our surprise is made with vegetable oil.
Tony, the owner and chef, is Northern Chinese. He shows off foods of his cuisines and is no slouch at Cantonese and Sichuan foods, either. He makes wonderful Seaweed Chicken Rolls, savory Spicy Dry Fish and Dry Bean Curd, wonderful Wonton Szechuan Style, and party-perfect Paper Wrapped Chicken. We love them all.
West Lake Minced Beef Soup more than meets our expectations. The Honey Walnut Shrimp, the Kung Pao Shrimp, and the Wu She Pork Ribs do likewise. Beautiful and tasting terrific are Mongolian Lamb, Tangerine Chicken, and an item called Almond Pressed Duck. The menu includes more than a dozen 'Healthy Dish' items including Brown Rice. We skip them because the Sesame Pockets signal the kitchen attends to patron health without special ordering required. The Moo Shu Pork, the perfect 'Pockets' and the boneless Almond Pressed Duck indicate that. The Calamari with Chef’s Sauce is fried but its crispness tells all that their frying has minimal calories from fat. These squid rings do not leave a tiny stain a paper napkin. Amazing!
The menu indicates special dinners, each with appetizer, soup, and entree; all for different amounts, but less than fifteen dollars. Clearly the house considers patron economic health, too. At lunch there are inexpensive special combination meals. They and main dishes bring healthy food to your table; ever so many are made with fresh vegetables, lean meats, and abundantly talented culinary capabilities. We love the Beef with Black Pepper, an excellent illustration as it sits on lots of Chinese greens. Beef Tendon Casserole comes loaded with taro and other vegetables and is made Sichuan style. It is an economic helthy taste winner, too.
Attention at this Inn is paid to service and sauces; no gummy gunk here. The Sauteed Green Beans uses a house-made heavenly XO sauce, the Soft Noodles with Chicken a simple sauce that also reaches for the sky. All main courses come with a portion of outstanding Cal-Rose sticky rice, or with long grain fried rice or brown rice. Selecting what to eat is not easy.
The color-enhanced six-page dinner menu begins with exotic drinks and a 'Dear Customer' letter of appreciation by Tony and his caring wife Nancy. They provide fine Chinese food where you might least expect to find it. Approaching twenty-five years in this one location, their steady clientele delight in their efforts. This is seen mid-week, mid-day and evening, their three rooms always seem two-thirds or more full, their customers enjoying a variety of Chinese foods fit for any important Mandarin.
We wish them another quarter century, and on subsequent trips west plan to drive there saying hello to Tony, Nancy, and son Willie, and to delight in their fine food. Hope Willie learns culinary skills from dad, and gets to keep this family favorite pleasing generations to come.