Had a very good meal at China Village tonight. Our dinner guests were also very impressed with the range of dishes we sampled. Had a 6:30 dinner reservation and were seated promptly - Mr Yao greeted us and asked whether we wanted the Chinese menu or not - I said Yes, please but I already had my paper menus marked with notes from reading the many chowhound posts - he was suitably impressed.
I ordered no. 9 - Spicy Combination -$4.95 - thin slices of beef shank and tripe bathed in a red oil/sauce that looked hot but was nicely balanced....lots of chopped cilantro mixed in injected a nice herbal note to the assertive flavors - a very nice way to start off the meal. Initially, I was a bit afraid that the heat level would be a bit much but I soon found out that most dishes look much hotter than they actually are....even dishes with the star preceding them are not going to cause you any discomfort.....they are in fact full of spice but not full of heat - although I understand that the heat level can easily be kicked up a notch or two just for the asking,
no. 31 - Hot and Spicy Pork Feet (actually shoulder - the same as no. 61 on the orange menu) - $15.95 - an amazing dish - my favorite of the evening - a large portion of pork shoulder with the skin that is braised for 8 hours until it almost falls off the bone - melts in your mouth.....ringed with baby bok choy that is cooked perfectly - lots of sauce surrounds the shoulder - enough for 8 people easily....looking forward to the ample leftovers.
no. 33 - Village Special Lamb - $8.95 tender slices of stir fried lamb with cumin the predominant seasoning ..... I didnt care for this as much as some other chow posters - there was a floury mouth feel - they may use rice flour to dust the meat with? others at the table liked it more than I did, however.....
no. 35 - West Style Spicy Fish - $15.95 - Mr. Yao recommended this soup. upon arrival at the table everybody got rather nervous - the entire surface of the large soup tureen was completely covered with whole dried chilli peppers (50 or 60 total? ) - the waiter skimmed off the peppers - revealing a clear broth and many large slices of fish - bean thread noodles rounded out this soup. Once again, a huge serving - easily enough for 8 and maybe 10.
The fish slices were moist and tender and generous in size/quantity.
no. 79 - Eggplant with Spicy Garlic Sauce - $6.50, a good rendition - nice balance of flavors.
no 106 - Sesame Flat Bread - 3.95, Freshly made....crisp on the outside and tender inside.....great with the soup.
no. 131 - spicy cold noodle with ground pork -$5.95. the hand cut noodles had a very firm texture accompanied by a well seasoned pork mixture - garnished with cucumber and scallion & cilantro (?) pretty good version - a reasonable portion -
Mr. Yao comped us a dessert of the eight precious rice pudding - very nice of him but we were all very full and chinese desserts are generally not my favorite ending to a meal. As we were leaving - he took the opportunity to boast a bit about his award winning chef. He was also proud to exclaim that they had not sold one order of sweet & sour pork that evening - that his customers were being educated and trying new things from his menu. The restaurant was quite full by the time we started into our meal - business looks to be very good. He also mentioned their presence on Chowhound.com - not realizing that I was a denizen. All in all, a great evening ........
China Village 1335 Solano Ave. Albany, CA 94706 510 525-8788