At Saturday’s Oyster Bliss, two of the other City ‘hounds wanted to take advantage of our field position in the East Bay to check out some Korean fried chicken. However, calls to the likely suspects went unanswered, no one was open in the mid-afternoon. We thought about going to Nellie’s for the South’s take, but then I suggested that we go to China Village and see what Mr. Yao, who is Shandong Chinese from Korea, might be able to whip up for us.
China Village was surprisingly busy at this hour with about six tables of diners. I relayed our special request, and after much back and forth in Mandarin with “vliang”, Mr. Yao said they could fry a whole chicken for us. He said it would be plain without sauce and just a spicy salt with Sichuan peppercorns on the side. Not on the menu, this was a whole organic chicken, $25, and hit the spot. He said that next time, we should call ahead and give a few hours notice for time to marinate the bird, as this one had all the seasoning in the coating only. He also told us that he can make the Korean-style wings with spicy garlic sauce (kam pong gi), but only when he’s around as he prepares it himself.
Another dish new to me was the crispy pork intestines (chitlins) with pickled mustard greens, tender ginger, and roasted dried red peppers. I’ve had the intestines here before, one of the best versions around, but adding the tangy and juicy veggie and the bite of young ginger to a mouthful takes it over the top. This was the dish of the meal for me. Mr. Yao says it’s a regular menu item and very popular with Chinese customers, but I don’t know how it’s listed.
The spicy soy milk to start was quite good although vliang would have liked some pickled flavors too. We had some kong xin cai (water spinach aka ong choi) sautéed with shrimp paste, the first of the season and so good. The shui jiao with spicy sauce were as excellent as usual though I feel they’re getting too small.
With our meal we enjoyed the 2003 Chateauneauf-du-Pape, picked up from Kermit’s 50% off bin. Quite good, ready to drink with rich fruit and smoky depth, and very nice with these dishes.
1335 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706