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San Pablo - Gou Bu Li - Xiao Chi Advice?

Krys | Feb 18, 2005 12:02 AM

The list of dishes is below.

So there I am with my print out of dishes suggested by Chowhounds. I ask if Xiao Chi is served all day on the weekend.

I try this in English first ... Are the small plates served all day Saturday? ... Nope ….. Do you serve special food on Saturday? … Nope …. So I haul out my piece of paper and point to the words Xiao Chi … and she says “Could you pronounce that? It could be anything based on the dialect”

I was flattered that this nice woman thought I was capable of pronouncing that correctly. I tried pointing to the other spelling Xiao Zhi. Nope.

“Dim sum? I asked feebly. Bingo. The magic words. Out came the weekend menu.

While I realize this is not Cantonese Southern dim sum, this restaurant has been in the suburbs forever, so they probably gave up and went with people calling it dim sum. It is served all day on Saturday and Sunday.

I tried everything Chowhounds mentioned except the xiao long bao (steamed pork buns) available weekends and the Monday only Tientsin … aka … juicy dumplings … aka … gou bu li tang baozi.

Barbara, where you there at lunch today? The table across from me ordered all the dishes you suggested – stir fried shrimp with garlic, dried cooked string beans with minced pork and Hunan spicy chicken. All delicious, but is Hunan chicken different here?

The Kuo Teh (Shandong style poststickers) were almost as Melanie described. I will take people to this restaurant, if only for those wonderful glazed bananas.

Anyway, more notes at the bottom, but back to the original question. Here is the list (in English) of what is available on the weekends. Would people be good enough to make some suggestions about what is unique to this restaurant or what is best of its type.

I am hoping I don’t need to whip out my Chow passport with Chowhounds and say “I have a foreign face but a Chinese stomach!". What do you folks yearn for even if it is the spiced pig ear? I’m Polish. We eat all pig parts.

Here we go …

Peking green onion with pork cake
Gou bu li cake
Sesame pan cake
Chinese donut
Sweet soy bean milk
Salted soy bean milk
Pork with Chinese cabbage boiled dumpling
Steamed Pork dumpling (xiao long bao)
Steamed Beef dumpling
Green onion pancake
Chive buns
Chive turnovers
Szuchuan cold noodle
Chinese beef pies
Aromatic beef cake
Beef thin noodle soup
Black mushroom w/pork soup
Lamb soup
Stir fried rice cake
Stir fried mei fun
Shredded bean curd salad
Shredded seaweed
Preserved eggs with tofu
Pickled vegetables
Salted water peanuts
Dried shrimp with cucumber
Shanghai glutten puffs
Spiced pig ear
Spiced combination
Spicy beef tender
Stir fried tripe
Boiled pigs intestines
Sweet and sour spare ribs (ok, this can’t be unique)
Shanghai smoked fish (I like smoked fish)
Dry fish with black bean
Peking green onion with shrimp
Crispy Aromatic fish
Dry fish with salted peanuts

I realize that some of the English names may not adequately identify the dish. I’d appreciate any help though.

What I like best so far about Gou Bu Li is the harmony of flavors in the dishes. All the flavors work together in a nice balance so that a dish is never too spicy, garlicky, or sweet.

I loved everything about those glazed bananas. Hot from the kitchen, they are briefly plunged into a big bowl of iced water and then put on a plate. They have the thinnest glaze holding in the creamiest hot banana interior.

I really liked the Spicy Hunan chicken but it was nothing like I expected. The point of this dish seemed to be the coating and sauce with the chicken being an excuse to eat this deep fried (well perhaps stir fried) dish. This was barely spicy with flecks of red chili and a sweet vinegary sauce. It got even better as it cooled a bit and the coating caramelized more. .

Great green beans that had minced pork that looked like crumbled bacon.

Stir fried shrimp with garlic were small lightly breaded shrimp on a bed of cabbage. This was take out, so I think the cabbage was to keep the shrimp out of any oil that drained from the shrimp. At first I didn’t notice the garlic taste because it was subtle, but there was lots of finely chopped garlic on the shrimp and a nice saltiness to the dish. My favorite so far, not counting the bananas.

The Kuo Teh (Shandong style poststickers) were almost as Melanie described in the link below. Open nicely browned wrappers with a juicy ground pork inside. There was no leek or ginger. If Melanie had not mentioned it, I would not have noticed the heat in the soy sauce, but I didn’t taste any ginger/garlic. They were cooked correctly on my visit. No goo.

I had the Hunan chicken as part of a lunch special ($4.75), which included a pot of tea, egg roll (just ok), sweet and sour soup (ok) and rice. A good deal.

Here is sort of a recap of all the posts I’ve read:

According to Chowhounds, Gou Bu Li has very good and exotic northern Chinese Xiao Chi, sometimes spelled Xiao Zhi, (small dishes) they only serve during the weekends. They make some style of dishes that are hard to find in the Bay Area like Tientsin juicy dumplings (gou bu li tang baozi). These are only served Monday night because a special chef comes in to make these.

The menu says the food is Mandarin and Szechuan.cuisine. However, in the post below, Melanie writes “The house’s stated regional specialties are Peking, Szechwan, and Shanghai. The owners came from Taiwan, so the styling of the food has evolved through that filter.”

Melanie also writes at the end of the post
“One sticking point I’d like to clarify is that the dumplings and appetizers served here are NOT “dim sum”. Even though “northern dim sum” has crept into popular usage locally and on this board to describe these Beijing, Shanghai and Sichuan-style snacks collectively, they are more properly called “xiao chi” meaning small eats or little plates. Also, Shanghai and Sichuan are not even in northern China. Dim sum is a Cantonese specialty and has its own tradition separate and apart from the type of food served here.”

"Gou bu li" means "a dog won't touch it." It's the name of a famous large dumpling from Tianjin. This place was sometimes called the "fish lips" restaurant - for years the menu listed fish lips as a choice, but they never actually had it. I don’t read Chinese, but there are no mentions of fish lips on the English menu. No connection to Gou Bu Li from Tianjin.

At one time they sold frozen Xio Chi, but not currently.

The décor is like a pleasant coffee shop with vinyl green tablecloths covering the tables. There is counter at the window which makes a pleasant place for single diners to sit. A few faded reviews from the mid 1980’s are pasted in the window. The grandfather is retired and son is in the kitchen

The location off Telegraph in Berkeley closed down in about 1998. They were located in El Cerrito until about 2003 and closed down until about November 2004 when they reopened in the Raley’s plaza in San Pablo on the El Sobrante border.

When the restaurant was closing down in 2003, Gordon mentioned that the chef, Master Sung, might be teaching some Chinese Cooking Classes in El Cerrtio. Is this the owner?

From what I read on Chowhound, the food is unique in the Bay Area and everyone likes the place. Yet I don’t understand why it keeps closing down. Was the food unique when it first opened and now there are other places in the Bay Area that serve the same type of food?

Hope you don’t mind my quoting you Melanie, but I just wanted to put the info about this restaurant in one place as I became a little tired bouncing between threads.

One thing that gets mentioned over and over is how pleasant and helpful everyone at the restaurant is. I agree very much with that.

Gou Bu Li Restaurant
3340 F San Pablo Dam Road
San Pablo, CA (in the same shopping center as Raley's and McDonald's)
Phone: (510) 223-0688
Fax: (510) 223-6074.

Closed Tuesdays
11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday
11:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday .

Anyway here are the links I found on this.

February 13, 2005

March 16, 2003
Gou Bu Li Tang Baozi

April 21, 2003
bad news for Gou Bu Li fans

January 09, 2003
Two weeks in Berkeley and environs

December 04, 2002
Dim Sum in Berkeley or Albany?

Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

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