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China Village, again

Joel Teller | Oct 14, 200312:28 AM

Bryan's posting of China Village as a "destination" restaurant sparked us to try it once more (we enjoyed quite a bit in the past few months, assiduously following all the ChowHound posts for advice on ordering). But it's a big trek for me, all the way across Berkeley from South to North. So we packed up the covered wagons and made the trek again.

The owner greeted us like long-lost cousins (we are all Caucasian) and we had a fine meal. I think he may have misinterpreted one of my requests to tone down the heat in one of the dishes because none of them was really burning hot -- which was good for us.

We had the "usual" from the "Chinese" menu: BonBon chicken, Home-Style Chicken, Cukes in Garlic Sauce, Village Lamb (wtih cumin), Mustard greens, green beans, a dry-fried tripe (actually intestine), two orders of sesame bread, wontons with chili oil, some others that I've forgotten. And then a new dish the owner recommended: Eel. We've had Shanghai-style eel several times, but this was different. The eel we've had before was slivered and stewed with garlic chives, but this was cross-cut (bone-in), fried and then stewed in a sweet sauce with whole garlic cloves, on a bed of blanched bright-green brocolli (not Chinese broc). Exceptionally tasty, $13.95 for half an eel. I think it was $22 for a whole eel. A steal! A real deal!

The owner referred to it as "unagi" and said it comes in fresh, and they clean it and prepare it -- he said the frozen eel from Japan falls apart in the cooking. By the way the unagi in sushi places is imported frozen.

There were eight of us. We had three bottles of wine; the corkage was $8 total (one dollar per glass, I guess). Of course we gave the owner tastes of the wine.

Good service, pleasant people. They comped us dessert -- sweet red bean soup. Check was $94 before tip (!).

Then we had to face the long drive back to South Berkeley.

China Village
1335 Solano Av, Albany (corner of Ramona)


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