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Restaurants & Bars 17

China Village - Sichuan banquet (long!)

Celery | Apr 6, 200304:25 PM

We got a group of 10 together last night and had the
$198 banquet menu (for 10) at China Village (I've linked to our first chowdown report below). Made reservations and discussed the menu with the owner about 3 days in advance.

All in all it was really good, very spicy, tons of food (and of course we ordered a few items off the menu too, because we couldn't help ourselves!):

Most of these items are on the menu - make sure you ask for the Chinese/Sichuan menu or you'll get the more mainstream menu - the menu is in English although translations aren't always quite right, especially for types of meat.

The owner, John Yao, is very helpful in deciphering the menu or helping to plan your meal. The other staff may be helpful, but you have to really ask the right questions.

I've noted which items aren't on the menu, otherwise have listed the name as it appears on the takeout menu I have.

Everyone else who was there, feel free to jump in with your take (and any corrections too!)

Menu consisted of 10 dishes:

1. Six cold appetizers:
sliced side pork with spicy garlic sauce
spicy combination (aka husband and wife - beef/tripe) cucumber with garlic sauce
ponpon chicken (aka bonbon)
jellyfish salad
some kind of ribs

The handsdown favorite was the pork with spicy garlic sauce - for the sauce! The cucumbers are a nice cooling touch, although the sauce can vary (it was really heavy and garlicky the first time we had it and a lot less so this time). Jellyfish still isn't a favorite of mine, but I liked this version better than others I've had - thinly sliced and tasty sauce.

2. sauteed calamari with scallops - very tender, not chewy calamari, not spicy at all, nice contrast to everything else. (don't see on regular menu)

3. dry cooked shredded beef - really flavorful strips of beef, almost beef jerky like - but better. This also had Chinese celery strips (and strips of jalapenos, if you weren't careful you'd chomp on one of those expecting celery and surprise!)

4. Buddha delight soup - with dry scallops, dry squid, quail eggs, virgina ham, bacon, pork hock, bamboo shoots, chicken in chicken broth - complex soup that cooks for hours, but not a hit at least on my side of the table, almost had too much stuff in it, esp. for those tiny soup bowls - not spicy - don't see this on regular menu.

5. smoked tea duck. this was better than last time ie less dry, but we're starting to get full now ..... must keep eating ... The owner keeps mentioning we must try the beer duck, something about using lots of bottles of beer to cook it? It might need to be ordered in advance (don't see it on menu - beer duck that is, the tea duck is on the menu).

6. Chen du style shrimp (hot spicy fried whole - heads and tails included - prawns) - very spicy yet addictive - some couldn't eat it at all 'cause it was so spicy, yet it was a big hit with the spice lovers and since it was battered it made eating the heads a little less intimidating for those who are sqeamish about such things

7. chili sauteed mustard greens - good but not as flavorful as earlier in the season (a la last dinner) -bit of a spicy bite.

8. instead of the usual steamed mandarin fish that comes with this menu, we substituted spicy tofu with fish fillet. We'd asked for a dish that was 'ma la' or numbing spicy hot cause we'd thought we wouldn't have enough spice (ha!). Melanie called this 'red hot pot of death' (or was it fire?!) as it came to table in big soup tureen filled with red hot liquid (lots of chili oil), perfectly cooked moist fresh fish fillet chunks, soft tofu, leeks and more. It was really delicious - I'd order this on its own. Was kind of sorry I was way too full to do more than just taste this. (did I mention we started the night out with desserts and tea? more to come on that from Windy...)

9. sesame flat bread. John offered us either two orders of this or one order of this and one of dumplings. It's really good but seems to be inconsistent - sometimes it's not cooked all the way thru and can be gummy - but it's still pretty darn good, esp. leftover and heated in your toaster oven.

10. and for dessert, eight treasure rice cake - had lots of 'treasures' nuts, dried fruits and rice and pineapple and orange segments (and no those red things on the plate weren't chilis.... just maraschino cherries!)

And if that wasn't enough we also asked for some 'long life' noodles - and got some kind of noodle soup - we asked for just a small amount for each of us, but got a whole soup pot - not sure which one it was or how it's listed on the menu.

And to make Derek happy ..... dry cooked tripe. In the post below I think we referred to it as fire bursted tripe. We ordered that last night and got a totally different beast - more stewy and saucy (the only dish we either didn't finish and didn't take home), not crispy and chewy. So for the crispy/chewy version, ask for 'dry cooked' - it almost tastes like bacon it's so smoky.

Lots of care was taken with presentations, garnishes (little butterfly carrots (or were they moths?!)

We had piles and piles of red chili pods left over! Did anyone get all of these to take home?

The only complaint I heard was that the food's a bit salty - but as Melanie pointed out, it plays off the heat better that way.

Ok..... next?!

China Village
1335 Solano
Albany, CA


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