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Pekin Restaurant
2877 University Avenue,
North Park
(619) 295-2610

You know it's old from the way they spell the name. "Pekin," not "Beijing." Not even "Peking." North Parkians probably don't even notice it, it's been here so long. But if you come after dark, the big red "Chop Suey" sign and the wooden lattice-work and the green tile Chinese roof and the red columns all speak 1930s loud and clear. Jennifer, at the counter, says her grandfather came from Canton at the age of 27 and set up business on this spot in 1931. He's still here, 96 years old. "Only changes came after a fire in 1945," says her Auntie Anna. "Before that we had private cubicles, old Chinese style." Even minus the private cubicles, you feel like you're in a colorized 1930 film-noir. The circle-glass swing doors, the rows of big-cushioned red booths, the mother-of-pearl pictures of misty Ming palaces, the hanging lanterns with translucent pictures of songbirds, the five-foot fans on the walls, the shouts in Chinese from the kitchen: it feels like old China. And so much less antiseptic than many newer Chinese restaurants. Auntie Anna even uses an old-fashioned cart to roll meals up to the customers on her aisle. "It worked for grandfather," she says. "Why change?"

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