Peking Tokyo is the obvious choice for satisfying a Chinese food or sushi craving while on campus. But, the question is: does it actually stack up on its own?
Like most places in the Emporium at the top of campus, Peking Tokyo is tucked away in a corner and, in this case, it shares a building with the Dunkin’ Donuts next door. The building itself is quirky, and a little bit off-kilter, as well. The floor is made of checkered black and white tile, the walls are half grey metallic and half orange, and the tables are a combination of red booths and black-and-white speckled tables. To top it off, the edges of some of the doors and windows have a purple, blue, and yellow-colored trim.
The staff at the counter at the back of the restaurant seem to be always busy with takeout orders and ringing phones, but the inside of the restaurant was mostly empty on my visit.
Peking’s menu is a mix of traditional Chinese restaurant offerings, with the addition of a selection of Japanese-style items, most notably a wide selection of Sushi rolls. Happily, the sushi seems to be prepared fresh, as I watched a chef preparing a few rolls to order at the front counter.
I ended up ordering a curry chicken combination plate for $9, a shrimp tempura roll for $6.50 and a bottled drink for $1.50. All in all, prices were pretty reasonable for significant dinner-sized portions, especially with ample seating available. As a bonus, after ordering at the counter, the staff will actually bring your food over, which is convenient and gives the meal a more sit-down table service feel. In fact, almost everything except full seafood entrees and sushi entrees are right around the $10 mark, and sushi rolls are available from $3.50 to $6.50.
After waiting about 10 minutes, I received my food. Curiously, it was packaged separately in plastic to-go containers. I assumed that this was for efficiency in packing to-go while filling eat-in orders, but it seemed a little strange to me.
Despite the odd packaging, portions were deceptively large, owing much to the astonishing amount of rice that was somehow packed into the tiny plastic container. Visually, both plates were colorful and actually nice to look at, between the curry, carrots, onions and vegetables in the rice, and the sushi roll.
Disappointingly, the curry chicken had very little spice at all, despite the bold, red text in the menu warning me of the spiciness. That’s not to say the flavor was bad, but it was mostly a sweet flavor of the onion with some crispness from the vegetables and a peppery-tasting chicken, not the curry taste I was expecting. If there was any spice, it was to be found at the bottom of the container, where all the curry sauce was hiding, after I was mostly finished. The fried rice, while acceptable, was also underwhelming in its flavor. The egg roll was accordingly bland, but still enjoyable with soy sauce.
However, the shrimp tempura roll was absolutely the highlight of the meal. The shrimp was crunchy and almost buttery on the inside, the sushi rice was soft and not chewy, and every flavor was balanced. The slightly bitter fish roe on the outside of the rice contrasted with the bright cucumber and avocado in the roll, along with the savory shrimp flavor after the initial crunch. In fact, I find myself wishing that I just ordered multiple sushi rolls instead of bothering with a combination entrée in the first place.
All things considered, Peking Tokyo has merit beyond the fact that it’s your only option for those moments when you need sushi or an order of orange chicken. The food quality is solid and the sushi is surprisingly good. Entrées seem to be hit or miss, but you can feel confident that you are, at the very least, getting a decent value for your $10 that buys a dinner at most other places in the Emporium. But for your own sake, don’t try to figure out why everything is served in to-go containers.