Growing up in Tyler, I became quite an expert on Chinese cuisine by visiting the various buffets that come and go in town regularly; which is to say I knew nothing! Over the years I have waited tables at a good Asian restaurant, as well as lived in larger cities with more to offer in the way of genuinely good eastern cuisine, both dine in and take out. While I confess to occasionally visiting a buffet, Chinese food is so much better when eaten hot and fresh as opposed to off a bar under heat lamps. For those who remain undeterred devotees of buffets, I’ll list a few of my personal favs and explain why they are on that rather short list in another article.
I recall working the lunch shift at a Chinese restaurant as a young man, and looking forward to the three o’clock break when the kitchen crew would cook up an authentic Chinese lunch for themselves and the wait staff. Of course nothing they cooked could be found on the menu. It was more like what they would have eaten in their own kitchens in the old world and thus far more authentic, hot and delicious. When it comes to good, fresh, inexpensive Chinese takeout, Tyler has one particular establishment that more people should know about.
Peking Chinese Restaurant is located at 1021 East Fifth (appropriately enough) just up from Tyler Junior College. A trip to Peking reminds me of my own college days, as well as the places my brother and I used to frequent during my time teaching in St Paul. While its not five star dining, it is classic takeout and far, far better than the buffets which are so popular around town. They carry all the usual menu items, (all of which are delicious by the way), and most patrons will leave the restaurant full for under ten dollars.
While Texas will never be famous for its Asian food since it’s obviously not native, Peking does bring to Tyler a bit of big city fare. So here’s to hoping that Tylerites will take a clue from area college students who spend their late nights sitting in corner of Peking cramming for the next morning’s exam. Skip the buffets with their hours old food warming beneath their heat lamps and try some genuine brain food. By the way, the phone number is (903)526-5208. I suggest calling ahead if you intend to pick it up and go.