Serious kudos go to Brian C for bringing Great Wall back to everyone on Yelp's attention. Like Brian notes, this is the real deal based on my experience with various Chinese cuisines (albeit in major US cities, not actually in China). Sally and I pigged out recently for lunch and we may have a new favorite (yes even over Red Pearl but not 100% yet).
The Pan Fried Buns are fantastic and served with (black) Chinkiang Vinegar. I made the mistake of opening one and perhaps it was slightly underdone but I have also learned sometimes to just eat my food and quit playing with it. They are cooked for 25 minutes so it had to be done. I also requested chili oil for dipping and they were happy to provide. 6 sizable buns for $8. RP makes nothing like this.
Next came a bunch of family style dishes split between the two of us. Yes we had leftovers. We ordered:
1. Sautéed green beans. These are excellent but lack the char one might find at RP. However, they are served with plenty of ground meat so be forewarned (this is a common theme on “Vegetable” headers for lots of Chinese restaurants). I loved them but would have liked a little more blackened skin. $7.95 and a little larger in portion size than at RP.
2. Fried Squid with Salt & Pepper. $12.95 but twice the size of the “salted crispy squid” at RP for $9.99. These were pretty amazing but I do prefer them to be a little more salty a la RP, plus RP had more jalapenos and fried cilantro which is delicious.
3. Spicy chicken which is not on the online menu but is available and amazing. The price was probably around $10.95 like the most expensive chicken dishes on the menu but this dish was fantastic. Not quite as “ma la” or plain all out spicy as the version at RP (7.99) but definitely twice the size. Plus sometimes the dish at RP gets ridiculously spicy.
4. Hot Spicy Fish Fillet with Tofu for $12.95. This dish was good but we prefer the fried version at RP. I wish RP’s had silky tofu as well though. You can’t always get what you want.
The waiter and perhaps the owner came by to say hello and ask how everything was plus really seemed cool with our baby sitting beside us for lunch telling us how she will grow up eating like us! I believe she also said their new chef of 3 months is from Shanghai so will have to look into some Shanghai favorites (Lion’s head meatballs for one, as I saw meatballs on the menu).
This was a lot of food but we also had a tab of about $62 before tip which is spendy for lunch. We typically over order at RP too but leave for under $40. Most of the time we have leftovers and we had a decent amount here even after stuffing ourselves.
The most important thing to remember here is that we now have options in BHM. RP covers the gamut while Mr. Chen’s strong suit is Taiwanese. Great Wall may focus on Shanghai options but not entirely. I also heard that the Black Pearl now has some more authentic dishes.
I, for one, welcome our new Chinese overlords and thank UAB for being around to help lure people here to town.