Atmosphere: Suburban casual.
Price Range: Lunch entrees $2.50-3.25; dinner entrees $3.95-7.95; family dinner $5.75 per person.
Credit Cards: Master Charge, Visa, American Express.
Special Facilities: Booster seats and high chairs; parking lot; carryout available; no ramp for wheelchairs.
Reservations: Not necessary.
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 10 p.m.
When we moved to Springfield eight years ago, the only Chinese restaurant there was a carryout. Now there are several including the latest arrival, Peking Garden. Located in central Springfield in what rapidly is becoming a fast-food mecca, Peking Garden serves carefully prepared dishes at reasonable prices.
At a recent lunch at the Peking Garden, our 4-year-old daughter had the egg drop soup (50 cents) which is topped with dried noodles. The waitress cheerfully agreed to bring an extra plate for her so she could sample some of our food.
Our 8-year-old son chose moo shi pork ($3.25), a delicious dish of shredded pork, bean threads, eggs and vegetables. He delighted in rolling the dish in two pancakes that accompany it and eating it by hand. Fried rice and tea accompany luncheon entrees and combination lunches; fortune cookies come with the check.
My husband ordered a vegetable dish, which arrived full of streaming, crisply cooked broccoli, baby corn and onions ($2.75). Usually I would not select eggs foo young in a chinese restaurant thinking it to be essentially an American dish, but I was so taken by the sight of it at another table that I decided to try it. The eggs foo young ($2.50) impressed the whole family -- a large platter of thick, fluffy patties of eggs, onions and bean sprouts. The total luncheon bill, including tax and tip, was $11.
On another occasion, at dinner, our entrees included butterfly shrimp ($6.50), large shrimp wrapped in bacon and dipped in egg batter before frying, and chicken almond ($4.50). We all agreed the shrimp was divine and the chicken almond contained generous amounts of both chicken pieces and almonds in a tasty sauce. Rice and hot tea accompany the entree, and again fortune cookies were served with the bill, which was $15.80 including tax and tip.
Despite my preconceived notion that Chinese food, with its stir-fry cooking does not lend itself to American steam tables, we tried the Sunday buffet. Alas, my bias was confirmed.
Arriving at noon when the buffet starts, we were quickly served a bowl of hot egg drop soup and tea. Then we headed for the buffet which offered egg rolls, pepper steak, shrimp chow mein, sweet-and-sour pork and vegetables, pork yi hsiang (peas, carrots, water chestnuts and pork in spicy sauce), deep-fried chicken and fried rice.
None of the buffer dishes was as good as those of our previous experiences. The egg rolls were hard on the outside, as if reheated; the chow mein was pedestrian (rarely a Chinese restaurant's finest accomplishment); the peas and carrots were overdone in the hot spicy chicken dish, and the carrots and green pepper in the sweet and sour pork were cut in such enormous pieces that they were undercooked. There was no room for the deep-fried chicken on the stream table, so it quickly got cold.
The pepper steak was probably the most successful of the dishes. Also, the rice was one of the better items.
The buffets, which changes each Sunday, offers all you can eat for $3.95 for Adults and $1.95 for children. The service, as always, was excellent and, at those prices, one hates to complain, but the buffet was a disappointment, even with the soup and fortune cookies.
The restaurant also serves Peking duck, at $15 for two, and several desserts, including lychee ($1), glazed banana (for two, $2.95) and fried banana ($1.50).
Peking Garden is defintely a fine addition to Springfield dining -- but order from the menu and skip the buffet.