”Where are my dragons!?”
Sorry, Khaleesi, but you won't find them here. When Pekinas Pīle, the new Chinese on the block, took over the premises of Chinese restaurant Soho, they seized the opportunity to throw all the tired Asian clichés out the window. Here be no dragons, no tacky wall art, no dull red lanterns. And how refreshing the result is! Finally a Chinese restaurant with the courage to go for a modern look, but without sacrificing the Asian atmosphere.
”A PLACE THAT NEVER FAILED TO DISAPPOINT”
Before I get into the scrutiny of this new restaurant, I want to say a few words about Soho. In my opinion, Soho was a place that never failed to disappoint and was always irrelevant to the Asian food scene. Therefore I'm tempted to say that Soho dodged a bullet by closing before I got around to reviewing them. However, it is in a way still in the crosshairs, because the primus motor in Pekinas Pīle's kitchen happens to be Soho's head chef. On top of that, they also chose to keep about half of Soho's old menu, so you might say that my expectations weren't exactly sky high.
At least presentation wise, Pekinas Pīle's level of ambition is undoubtedly way higher than that of Soho. All dishes look really good, and the gorgeous plates and bowls add to the overall impression. How disappointing, then, to discover that the flavors don't live up to the good looks. The Gong Bao chicken is surprisingly tasteless, and the dumplings with chicken and shrimp aren't bad, but the flavors are unbalanced and the dish comes with one or two weird-tasting ingredients that I can't really pinpoint. Luckily, the duck in oyster sauce is a tender and pretty tasty dish, and the won-ton soup doesn't disappoint either, although it's still nothing spectacular.
”EVERY BITE IS JUST MORE DELICIOUS THAN THE PREVIOUS”
BUT! (I like big buts and I cannot lie) The final dish I tried just knocked me on my ass! The spicy beef in a pot might very well be the best Chinese dish I've had in Riga during my almost 3½ years living here. At one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in the world, the unimaginatively named China in Stockholm, they serve an utterly fantastic Shui Zhu chicken. It's a bit hard to describe, but it's an almost soupy stew with chicken, vegetables and chili floating in an enormous amount of sauce, and every bite is just more delicious than the previous. And Pekinas Pīle's so called ”spicy beef in pot”, if not the same dish, must be a very close relative. Hold on a sec, gotta wipe some drool off my keyboard...
Pekinas Pīle also serves business lunch, but it is just decent, no more. And on this note, let me give Pekinas Pīle (and every other restaurant) a bit of advice: think of your business lunch as your audition, your sales pitch, your trial version. If it's just so-so, people will probably not come back for dinner. Put a bit more effort into it, and you will surely be rewarded.
If every dish would be as excellent as the spicy beef in a pot, Pekinas Pīle would blow the competition out of the water and the rest would be silence. That's not really the case now, but I'm eager to venture deeper into the menu and see what other delicious surprises await me.