We didn't plan to go here; in fact, we walked past it twice. But for some weird reason, most of the restaurants on Piedmont were closed at 4:30 on Sunday afternoon. We looked at the menu in the window and agreed: "Totally ordinary." But hungry, so in we went, were quickly seated, looked at the menus again: "Boring." The dishes were so generically Chinese-American, we just shrugged and went for the norm.
The medium hot and sour soup was three bowls for each of us, and two more for breakfast. More sour than hot, it appealed to me for the black-peppery flavor of the broth, and the amount of tender, smoky-tasting pork in it. I don't know how, but they really infused this pork with a smoked flavor.
Crispy chicken with Spicy Garlic Sauce was almost a whole bird--two legs, two breasts, two backs, but only one wing. OK. Big pile of chicken for $6.95. The skin was amazingly crisp and savory, the wing tips were crunchy, and the breasts were moist and tender--the oil in the wok must have been plenty hot. The sauce didn't stand out, but the chicken was good enough on its own.
Shredded Pork with Garlic Sauce was the same smoky pork as in the soup, with a lot of good cabbage and zucchini. This dish was a lot spicier than the Spicy Garlic Sauce. It was even better the next day when I reheated it for lunch. Lots of meat, nice crunchy textures, and good savory sauce to flavor the rice.
We got out of there with a load of leftovers for $22. Not a destination, maybe, although that chicken is as good as I've had anywhere in a long time, but definitely a stop when in the neighborhood.
China Garlic Restaurant
3941 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, CA 94611
Mon. - Thus. 11:00AM - 9:30PM
Fri. - Sat. 11:00AM - 10:00PM
Sun. 11:30AM - 9:30PM
wine / beer