Dining like a president in Falls Church, Virginia


Photo Credit: stockmelnyk

During his presidency from 1988 to 1992, George H.W. Bush enjoyed dining at the Peking Gourmet Inn in Falls Church, Virginia. A small suburb just outside of Washington, D.C., Falls Church still fondly recalls having a sitting president frequently eat at a non-descript Chinese restaurant in a local strip mall.

Including his time served as vice president from 1980 to 1988, Bush visited the Peking Gourmet Inn more than 50 times. The owners felt so enthralled with his visits that they always gave him the same table and posted several framed photographs with Bush and the restaurant staff on the walls.

Like Father, Like Son

When his son and namesake George W. Bush served as president from 2000 to 2008, he too enjoyed dining at the little Chinese restaurant known for its presidential Peking duck, orange chicken, jumbo shrimp, and lamb chops. According to a quote from restaurant owner Robert Tsui, the younger Bush never looked at a menu when he walked through the doors of the Peking Gourmet Inn. Both he and the staff knew exactly what he wanted, which is a combination of all the foods listed above.

Because both Bushes ate at the restaurant so often, Robert Tsui and his brother and co-owner gave them booth N17 every time and invested in bullet-proof glass around the booth to thwart those who might want to do either president harm. Father and son sometimes dined at the Peking Gourmet Inn together and other times with their wives Barbara or Laura and other family members, friends, and business associates.

Unpretentious Men and Diners

Close associates of George H.W. and George W. Bush described them as humble men who didn’t take their own celebrity status seriously and preferred to eat food they already knew and loved rather than dine out in fancy restaurants with unknown menus. Both fans of Asian food, the Peking Gourmet Inn seemed like a natural choice when looking for a place to eat lunch or dinner away from the bright lights and paparazzi of Washington, D.C. The Chinese restaurant choice of these two presidents has prompted hundreds of people who might not have given the restaurant a second glance to go inside and order the Bush special.

What’s So Special About the Peking Duck?

Peking Duck and Asian culture are practically synonymous. The serving of this dish to emperors and other nobility dates back thousands of years in China. Today, however, anyone who visits a traditional Chinese restaurant such as Peking Gourmet Inn can enjoy the same delicacy as Chinse emperors and American presidents.

To prepare this delicacy, chefs must first obtain a duck from a duck farm and allow it to hang upside down to dry out for at least one day. After plucking and roasting the duck, it comes out with glazed, crisp skin and soft, tender meat inside. Chefs carve it right at the table and then serve it with thin pancakes, hoisin sauce, and spring onions.

Besides the Bushes, celebrities such as John Travolta have also enjoyed a meal at this famous restaurant inside of a strip mall. Although no one in the Bush family has been president for over 10 years and President George H.W. Bush has passed away, their choice to dine here is still the restaurant’s claim to fame.

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