East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Monday, May 28, 2007

TGEL: China Village and Great Szechuan

Been on a Sichuan tip lately. China Village is the ranking restaurant in the category, and last week I blew twenty bucks on a late lunch there. Started with the home style chicken, which came in a thick, ridiculously spicy sauce. Barely made a dent in the "bacon-cut" (this is the local euphemism for "so fatty your arteries will hate you for the rest of your short life") pork with preserved mustard green hearts, but the dish was good from the lunch until today, when I threw the remainders into a lima bean stew.

Six of us had dinner at Great Szechuan yesterday: Dicko, F's friends Flobert (semi-chilliphobic), and Shankiwack (demi-semi-vegetarian). We cobbled together a hodgepodge of a menu, but it was mostly wonderful. We started with excellent sliced chicken in a homemade spicy sauce much thinner than China Village's, but almost as hot; and agreeably salty jellyfish salad in green onion sauce. We were served our sizzling rice soup without spoons; when Dicko asked for them, he was told they were being washed. The soup was eventually surprisingly good, with lots of shellfish in it, and perhaps some MSG.

The soft, gingery vegetarian ma po tofu was a highlight, maybe the best tofu I've had in this country. The spicy garlic eggplant was extremely hot but had no eggplant taste -- I'd like to try it again in season. The crisply battered salt and pepper prawns were pretty good, with more salt than pepper. We also had some nonconfrontational scallop thing that didn't leave much of an impression. Bill worked out at $13 each.

Different meals, so comparisons might be unfair, but the quality of the cooking was very similar, maybe with a slight edge to Great Szechuan. On the other hand, the service at China Village was excellent, while at Great Szechuan it was abominable even by Chinese restaurant standards, with the spoon shortage merely the funniest of our problems, and hardly the worst. I'll overlook a lot of bad service, and even the kind that actively wastes my time, like we experienced at Great Szechuan, isn't fatal: I still want to go back there to try an all-chilli meal. But I'll return to China Village first.

China Village
1335 Solano Avenue @ Pomona, Albany

Great Szechuan
3288 Pierce St, Pacific East Mall, Richmond

EDIT: Whoops, possible food poisoning alert from one of our table at GS. That tips the scales.

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  • At 2:54 AM, Blogger Sophie said…

    ooo... i am a tofu super fan! sigh. i want the mapo tofu soooooo badly right now. with rice.

    Here I bought a sauce pack so as to skip all the seasonings! and i will try this friday after work.

  • At 2:06 AM, Blogger Sophie said…

    ooo... i am an eggplant super fan! sigh. i want the spicy eggplant sooooo badly right now. with rice.

    this is really one of the simplest dishes to make anywhere in the world so long as you can get hold of eggplant and sauce package.

    Here I bought a sauce pack so as to skip all the seasonings! and i will try this friday after work.


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