In my years of visiting Ensenada, I remember the first time a friend of mine invited me to a new restaurant near the main boulevard. He told me it was simply called Restaurante Pekín. He also said it had to be good because it was owned by a Chinese family.
Not knowing what to expect from a Chinese restaurant in Mexico, I was game.
Walking in, the place had the look of a dated US interpretation of a Chinese restaurant. Red and gold wall paper, Buddhas, gold plated chandeliers and of course, a huge bowl of fortune cookies near the front counter.
The only other thing I can remember about that night was the quantity of food we were served. It was simply amazing, and the cost was incredibly cheap.
A few years later that restaurant moved to its present location near Reforma and Lopez Mateos, dropped the “typical” interior design and changed the name to Pekín 2000.
The giant plates of food remained.
I remember one time trying to order in Spanish with a couple of the workers. As Cantonese was their first language, and Spanish their second, they struggled with my American accented Spanish. My friends literally had to repeat my Spanish, in more Mexican Spanish for the wait staff, all Chinese, to understand.
The NPR story on the fusion of Chinese and Mexican food reminded me of my many journeys to Pekín 2000 in Ensenada with so many of my friends.
This summer my foundation, Adventures in Life, is starting a culinary institute in Oaxaca for indigenous kids who want to develop in and learn the restaurant trade. Our main teacher this year is Jose Lim, of Los Angeles, by way of Mexicali. Jose is the living embodiment of that NPR story, Chinese Mexican fusion.
I am so excited to have Jose with us this summer for a week to work with, teach, and get to know some of the young people from my little corner of Oaxaca.
If you want to be part of this important week, or can help us make it happen, the dates are July 12 – 18. Contact us as soon as possible if you can help, or want to be part of our upcoming Culinary Institute.