Ode: Scallion Pancakes at Peter’s Chinese Cafe
Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re going to say. The best Chinese food is on South Federal, where you can explore the joys of dim sum at Star Kitchen or revel in whole Peking duck at China Jade. I get it.
But if you want to eat the very best scallion pancakes in the whole damn city, you’ll have to order them from the irascible OG Denverite himself, still manning the phones night after night in his tiny spot at 12th and Elizabeth.
Don’t bother trying to eat in at the three-table dining room. And if you’re smart, you’ll order by phone rather than walk up and wait, stuck listening to Peter argue with customers or old friends who frequent the restaurant because we can’t live without his sesame chicken. He’s the best kind of curmudgeon: consistently crabby, charming, and comical.
And those pancakes. Those quadrants of joy. Those crispy doughy savory slivers dipped into the unctuous vinegary sauce, paper-thin flakes dropping off as you tear away another bite, licking a finger and pressing it onto the plate to consume every single little piece. You won’t find others in the city that come close to their balance and perfection.
Rumor has it that Tommy Lee uses Peter’s family recipe for his own scallion pancakes at Hop Alley — wrappers for those magnificent duck egg rolls. And they are most certainly delicious.
And you can buy pre-made scallion pancakes at, like, H Mart, and fry them up for yourself.
But for the pure joy of eating, for the pleasure of American-style Chinese food dispensed onto plates or just guiltily chopsticked out of their white folding boxes while you’re ensconced on your couch bingeing something that makes you feel just a tad bit ashamed, Peter’s hits the spot.
Those scallion pancakes aren’t going to eat themselves, amiright?