Peking Lodge: Comprehensive Relaunch of a Zamalek Mainstay
23B Ismail Mohamed St.
As one of the most enduring Chinese restaurants in Cairo, Peking was a Zamalek landmark and with its re-launch as Peking Lodge, we entered with equal amounts of excitement and trepidation. The first thing you’ll notice is the comprehensive renovations that have taken place. The décor is much more refined and the lighting creates much nicer ambiance. Most of the middle of the restaurant is taken up by a large rectangular bar area and all these touches combined, with a small stage area near the back, shows the venues evolution from just a restaurant to a more all-purpose hangout spot.
Alongside the normal paper menu (still branded as Peking), you are now also handed a leather-bound volume, and inside it you’ll find some rather strange options for a Chinese restaurant such as an arugula salad with parmesan cheese, a variety of pasta dishes and a selection of risottos.
For starters, we ordered the broccoli and mushroom soup (18 LE), the vegetable spring rolls (14LE) and the fried wontons (20LE). We also ordered the Double Happiness cocktail (60LE), which was something of a mixture of a mojito and an appletini, and the Peking cocktail (70LE).
The starters were served relatively quickly, but we had to ask for our cocktails three times, even when we could see them sitting on the bar for several minutes, although we’ll forgive them because maybe they still probably aren’t used to having a bar. Both cocktails tasted almost identical, reminding us rather heavily of apple Fanta, with the Double Happiness only differing due to the mint of the mojito. Both are very strong, but the flavour of the Egyptian spirits spoiled the experience somewhat.
The broccoli and mushroom soup was a big disappointment, being bland and largely tasteless even after adding copious amounts of salt. The wontons, however, were piping hot and delicious; the filling was delicious, though the pastry was a little bit chewy. The vegetable spring rolls were similarly delicious, being large and satisfyingly crunch, and without the extra oiliness you often get with fried spring rolls.
It was time for the main event; the main courses. We ordered the beef in Teriyaki sauce (85LE), the chicken with cashew nuts (62LE) and the Kung Pao chicken (62LE). All of the dishes are served with your choice of steamed rice or egg fried rice (either with or without vegetables), but we also ordered a portion of fried noodles with vegetables (30LE).
The chicken with cashew nuts was well cooked, but lacked in both cashews and flavour, being a little on the bland side. The Kung Pao chicken was similarly well cooked to a nice tenderness and with a little kick of spice that complements the chicken and vegetables nicely without overpowering it. The beef in teriyaki sauce was delicious and tender, but it was simply not Teriyaki sauce, tasting rather generic, but tasty nonetheless.
For dessert, we went with the Double Happiness Sorbet (30LE) – no relation to the aforementioned cocktail – as well as a Cosmopolitan (60LE) and a Daiquiri (60LE). The sorbet was tasty but unexciting, and the cocktails were, once again, overpowered by the heavy-handed use of Egyptian spirits.
Overall, the relaunch of Peking as Peking Lodge has been mostly successful, but this transformation is not without its growing pains