finally made it across the bay for an eagerly anticipated lunch at china village in albany this afternoon. sichuan is our favorite type of chinese food and based on chowhound reports, i was expecting to be blown away. out of the five dishes we ordered, one was so bad as to be inedible. three were disappointing (below average), and only one was anything approaching tasty (not quite there though). i went with my mom, native chinese speaker and major foodie, so i'm pretty sure we ordered appropriately.
the inedible dish was the tea-smoked duck, totally dried out, tasting of neither tea nor smoke, and served with four sad looking sweet buns that nobody touched. the chili fish broth dish that so many tables seemed to be ordering barely had a hint of spiciness and was mostly uninteresting (especially as we've had so many stunning preps of this dish elsewhere). the char-grilled cabbage came doused in a dark and flavorless sauce. my mom pronounced the whole thing seriously underseasoned. they were out of rabbit, so we got some frankly gristly wontons drowning in another disappointingly unspicy hot oil. the only dish we managed to eat most of was the mapo tofu, and then only because it was the best of the bunch (not really a compliment). we asked for an extra helping of ground sichuan peppercorns as the spice quotient was seriously lacking up til then. what was particularly surprising about the relative non-spiciness of the food is how much we reiterated to the waiter that we like our food quite hot. since 2/3 of the table was chinese, i can't imagine why the kitchen would hold back.
i'd been looking forward to china village for ages based on the reviews on this board. to our taste, spices in oakland and sf is significantly better and trend in mountainview also beats this place out. am i just completely missing something here? chowhound has led me so very, very right in the past.
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