Archive for Thursday, November 5, 1998


November 5, 1998


Peking Taste has found success despite its relatively hidden location.

When a Chinese buffet restaurant has people lining up outside for a chance to eat and the kitchen staff has to work double-time during peak meal rushes to keep food on the counter, it's probably worth a story.

That is the case with Peking Taste, a little restaurant that is succeeding wildly because of strong word-of-mouth praise of its low prices and quality buffet selections.

There was a time a few years back when this was not the case. Suffering from a litany of problems, the restaurant appeared to be going under.

Peking Taste is tucked behind Hastings Books, Records and Video near 23rd and Iowa, and the hidden location and lack of advertising were stifling the restaurant. Then, about two years ago, Ruirong Wang and Hang Kai Wang bought the business and began an amazing metamorphosis.

They started off by making sure that the food they offered was hot, fresh and in ample supply, and they lowered the prices. Soon, diners were coming in to try the place, and liking it enough to become regular customers.

A year ago my wife and I went in on a Friday evening and found a good-sized crowd ahead of us; that became the norm on subsequent visits.

Shortly thereafter, the restaurant closed for remodeling. They knocked out a wall and redesigned the restaurant, doubling floor space in the process.

The new-and-improved Peking Taste offers a spacious, pleasant place to eat. But most people are not there for the atmosphere. They're there for the food.

The restaurant offers dishes in line with what the competition is offering. A walk through the buffet reveals take-out favorites, including General Tso's Chicken, Mongolian Pork, Kung Pao Chicken, beef with broccoli, pepper steak with onions and sesame chicken.

Appetizers include egg rolls, crab rangoon and fried chicken wings.

Peking Taste does throw in the unusual from time to time to keep things interesting. One evening, mussels in garlic sauce were on the buffet. That was a treat.

So why is Peking Taste succeeding? Low prices, for starters. The lunch buffet runs $4.50 and a suppertime trip is $5.75.

The second reason is the taste. The food is simply good. The delicious Seafood Delight, for example, comes packed with large portions of crab and shrimp. And the sauteed potatoes are wonderful.

Most of the regulars I know who dine at Peking Taste love Chinese food, so it is not just the prices that keep them going back. A friend told me he eats there regularly because the food is "inexpensive and it tastes good."

Judging from the line that greeted us as we went in for lunch the other day, there are a lot of other people in Lawrence who feel the same way.

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