One of the questions I get asked a lot, even before I started this blog, is “What’s the best Vietnamese restaurant in Regina?” My answer always is “My mom’s house”. See, the thing is, I really didn’t know what the best Vietnamese restaurant was in Regina because I never went to Vietnamese restaurants. If I was ever craving any specific Vietnamese dish, my mom would make it. And my parents NEVER took us to Vietnamese restaurants. My mom is a huge Vietnamese culinary snob and she judges Vietnamese cooking hard. She always said that it was a waste of money going to Vietnamese restaurants when she can make everything way better.
However, now that my mom is older and my dad is retired, I’ve noticed that they are beginning to enjoy going out to eat more. They like to try out all the new Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants that are popping up all over the city, and they even have their favourite spots that they frequent! So I’ve decided to start a new category on this blog called “Restaurant Review” where I will review new Vietnamese restaurants and feature some of my old favourites in the city. I will take my parents out to these restaurants, glean some expert input from my mom, and write about our experiences.
The first restaurant to be featured on my blog will be Peking House. Peking House is a Chinese restaurant located in downtown Regina on 1850 Rose Street, and it is one of my family’s favourites. I always take my parents out for dinner on their birthdays, and they usually request to go to Peking House. We always order the same handful of dishes – and these are the handful of dishes that my mom concedes that this restaurant can make better than she can.
Hot and Sour Soup
We always start off our meal with the small order of the hot and sour soup. The small order is enough for the four of us (my husband and I, and my parents) to each have two servings. Peking House nails this soup with just the perfect balance of sour and spicy. I crave this soup often and my mom has made it quite a few times for me, but even she will admit that Peking House does it better.
Shrimp Balls Hot Pot with Noodles
My husband’s favourite dish at this restaurant is the Shrimp Balls Hot Pot with Noodles. It comes out piping hot in a little pot and the shrimp balls are coated in a deliciously rich sauce. Now the trick is when you order it, to order it “with noodles”. If you just order it off the menu, it does not come with the noodles on the bottom of the pot. My husband’s favourite part of this dish is the noodles underneath the shrimp balls. One time we went here without my parents and ordered the dish off the menu, and it didn’t have the noodles on the bottom. He was so disappointed, and my mom had to explain to us that “with noodles” is a special request when ordering.
Salted Fish Fried Rice
Okay, so here’s the deal. Some restaurants have “secret” menu items. These items are not shown on the English menu, but are available on the Chinese menu. Now my parents don’t speak or read Chinese, but somehow my mom found out about this secret menu item – the salted fish fried rice. For those of you who are tired of the basic Chinese fried rice with frozen vegetables and chicken, you need to give this try. There are no frozen peas and carrots in this bad boy, just deliciously salty pieces of salted fish. It is completely different than your every day Chinese fried rice, and it is definitely worth trying. My mom has tried to make this at home once, but with a small piece of salted fish costing over $20 at the Asian food store, she says it’s just more economical to order this at Peking House. You won’t see this on the English menu, but just order “salted fish fried rice” and they’ll know what you want.
So we go from secret menu item to most basic menu item ever! This is always the dish that I order when we go. Sometimes a girl just needs a simple Chinese dish! Peking House does a mean ginger beef though. Some restaurants make their ginger beef super spicy to compensate for lack of flavour. Peking House’s ginger beef is not overly spicy but has all the familiar flavours that hit the spot.
Special Chow Mein
And finally, my mom always orders the Special Chow Mein which comes with all the veg, pork, shrimp, squid and scallops. There’s nothing overly spectacular about this dish, other than it is a familiar Chinese comfort dish, and it is way more economical to order it at a restaurant than make it at home, especially with all the seafood in it. I always make fun of my mom for ordering this basic dish and she chastises me for ordering the ginger beef, but we always order them!
And that’s it. The five dishes that we ALWAYS order whenever we go to Peking House. We have never strayed from these items, and although we always pore over the menu that hasn’t changed in decades, we end up just rattling off an order of these same five dishes.
My mom’s birthday was actually this week and we are going out later this week for her birthday supper. However, this year, she has requested a new Vietnamese pho restaurant that just opened up on Quance Street. Stay tuned for that review!