Peking Hokkaien Restaurant, Nishi Azabu 北京料理 北海園 西麻布

Fellow amateur physicists, I declare the matter resolved - time travel is possible. All you need to do is walk through the doors of the Peking Hokkaien Restaurant in Nishi Azabu. From the moment you enter you will be transferred to the Chinese restaurant of your childhood, complete with studded vinyl spiral banquettes, yellowing ink paintings, decorative fans and linoleum floors. Actually I think the overall decor is kind of cool once you surrender to it. On a recent visit for dinner, I would say I was more intrigued than impressed by the overall experience. Upon sitting down, the rather attractive Chinese waitress (of a certain age as they say in France) immediately set to selling us the 6,000 yen set menu which includes shark fin soup and Peking Duck. Any protests I made in the direction of ordering a la carte were dismissed in a beautiful, persuasive hybrid of English and keigo in a Chinese accent.

So I relented and persuaded my headstrong dining partner just to go along in case things got out of hand. We started with a mixed entree which had some of the usual pickled thingies and some bbq pork. Then we were served the shark fin, which was actually rather nice (if a little aged) and served in a thick brown gravy. Next we were given two battered prawns in ginger sauce which again were pretty good. This was followed by some sweet and sour fish which really took me back to the good old days of Sydney suburban Chinese. Next came the Peking Duck which comprised of one pancake each . This was not good Peking Duck - there was hardly any taste and certainly not that crispy duck skin vs the soft pancake contrast which usually makes me wild with desire (for another).

This was followed by some acceptable Chinese vegetables, yakisoba which had been baked crispy and a prawn dumpling. At various intervals throughout the course our server kept mentioning something that sounded like "suica" (the word for watermelon) and I kept on saying "no watermelon for me" until my dining partner, who is much more accomplished in Japanese told me that she was actually asking if we wanted to order anything further "tsuika". Well at least I didn't think she was asking about my train pass (which is also a suica to those out of towners reading this).

Well we were much too full for that, especially after a warm Tsingtao and a couple of much colder nama-biru. The food was just on the better side of OK and you could go here if you're in a bit of an ironic mood...except at 9,000 yen per head this place is not cheap (I'd have to call this place full fare economy class) so it might be best for you just to take my word for it.

北京 北海園 (西麻布)




Tel: 03-3407-8507


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