All you have to do is mention wanting duck, and most locals will point you toward Peking Gourmet Inn. Walls of diners' photos, from presidents to celebrities, can attest that they are famous for this dish. And rightly so.

Your first time going to Peking Gourmet Inn, you may think you're in the wrong place. Tucked away in a small shopping plaza off of Route 7, it's barely noticeable from the street. When you enter to claim your reservation (always make a reservation here), you may pass throngs of people waiting in the narrow hallway. Even once you're seated, the atmosphere is your typical loud Chinese restaurant with lots of servers rushing by and the sounds of people enjoying their food.

Courtesy of Yelp for Peking Gourmet Inn

Once the duck arrives, though, you'll understand the source of this restaurant's reputation. Peking Duck, done right, takes over 24 hours to prepare, and you can tell they don't skimp here. Tableside service will include expert carving of your perfectly roasted duck. Crispy skin, succulent slices of meat, and juicy drumsticks to fight over will be quickly dispatched onto waiting platters. The first thin pancake will be prepared for you: a smear of sweet hoisin sauce, a sprinkling of fresh scallion, some cucumber, and the duck are all rolled up for an incredible first bite. 

Courtesy of Yelp for Peking Gourmet Inn

Don't worry about getting cookie-cutter Chinese food here; everything on the menu is prepared in the traditional manner. From the housemade noodles to their signature garlic spring roll sauce, even minor components of the meal are given a special touch. You can't go wrong with the Black Pepper Shrimp (that's the lunch portion below), the seafood pan-fried noodles, or the fried calamari appetizer. You're also going to want to try the Szechuan cabbage as a refreshing starter.

Photo by Sarina Petrocelly

For a table of four, I would recommend an order of spring rolls, some Szechuan cabbage, one duck, and maybe two more entrees of your choice. Don't forget to ask for your duck carcass afterward if you're big on making your own broth.

Photo by Sarina Petrocelly

Why is a meal at PGI so expensive?

I felt I had to throw this information in here because this is a pretty expensive restaurant, especially compared to other Chinese restaurants. The Peking Duck is $45. You get a whole roasted duck and all the fixings, enough for 12 pancake bundles and extra drumsticks and meat to spare. I believe some of the house specialties run over $30 for seafood dishes or jumbo shrimp.

That said, the food here is worth it. You can tell that the duck is perfectly prepared and presented (they've been doing it the same way since 1978). Their Scorpion Bowl cocktail is super-potent and the ideal Instagrammable birthday drink to share. The portions are very generous, regardless of the time of day. If you're not sure you want to spend as much, go during lunchtime and try just a few items. You won't regret it. To view their full menu, visit the Peking Gourmet Inn website.

ADDRESS: 6029 Leesburg Pike in Falls Church, VA
PARKING: Free surface lot

Have you been to Peking Gourmet Inn? What are your favorite dishes? Let us know in the comments below!

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