Restaurant: Great China

 

 

 

My family loves to eat. So when I go home and my family says, “We gotta go to this restaurant.” I say, “Okay,” with as much enthusiasm as I can muster for a restaurant going by the luxurious name of “Great China”. With the hipster restaurant movement going strong, I’m only used to twee restaurant names that sound like Disney animal-buddy movies (Milo + Olive), single words (Animal), or names that feel vaguely exotic but might have been generated by some random online band-name generator from the MySpace era (Lukshon).
It’s good my parents aren’t into high-falutin’ hipster sensibilities.
Let’s go to Great China.

 

I expected some staid space lit with yellowing fluorescent tube lights dotted with insect carcasses. Instead, the spot was very modern, with concrete walls and floors, decorated with modern-ish art. We appreciated all this for approximately 45 minutes as we waited to be seated. We were hungry when we did sit down, and my parents went to town on the menu.

 

First up is “Double Skin” salad. This is one of Great China’s signature dishes.

The salad items are brought on a plate and the dressing brought in bowls. The “skin” is noodle-like sheets made from green bean starch. The texture is like the clear thread noodles you’ll often see in Asian cuisine (pancit, etc.). The salad is mixed by the server.

 

Potstickers and/or dumplings.

We had two kinds, shrimp and vegetarian. Both my parents agreed the vegetarian one (stuffed with a chive mixture, I believe) was the better of the two.

 

I love Hot & Sour soup. That has nothing to do with how well it alleviates hangovers, because, you know, I never drink to excess, ever. (Hi Mom!)
But, seriously, this is the best Hot & Sour soup I’ve had at a restaurant. Pungent white pepper balances the acidity. The shrimp, egg, bamboo shoots, and other soup additions are cooked perfectly.

 

And here we have the Peking Duck in its natural habitat: about to be on my plate. Great China’s Peking Duck is legendary, and rightfully so. In particular, I liked the thin crepes, which are a departure from the fluffy (and very filling) white buns traditionally served with Peking Duck. The thinner crepes allow for a better duck-to-green onion-to-hoisin sauce ratio and make the whole thing much more enjoyable.

 

[Steve Irwin voice]: Isn’t she gorgeous?!
Yes, let’s have another close-up.
And let’s go even closer. Look at how thin they slice the skin. That takes a lot of skill and requires training.

 

All right, let’s ease-up on the artery clogging.

 

Sauteed green beans, a familiar staple, but cooking time and technique makes all the difference. These were cooked to a pleasing al dente texture.
Beef with chives, another favorite of my parents. Beef was tender and the whole dish was seasoned well.

 

We’ve eaten land and air creatures, let us not spare the sea. These fish fillet nuggets are steamed and mildly sauced so as to best showcase the flavor of the meat and its freshness.

The fish was really good. I might have eaten all of it myself. Might have.

 

Complimentary green tea ice cream with crisped rice to close the meal. This was great. After the ice cream melted, it was like eating Rice Krispies in sweet, green-tea-flavored cereal milk. Bomb.

All in all, Great China is a great spot. The wait made me grumpy but after having the food, I can see why the wait is that long. Worth it. This place was so good it is the only restaurant my family asked me to put on my blog (yeah, really) so they can see the pictures and relive the deliciousness.

 

Great China
2190 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 843-7996
http://greatchinaberkeley.com/

 

 

now introducing: go eat

Some of you already know about the page I have been working on called “go eat”. This is the official launch(?) of that page. It is a directory of all the places I have eaten and would recommend. It’s a work in progress and I will (try very hard) to update it once a month (as long as I have new information to post).

I frickin’ love food (as you know).

I hope you do, too, and that you will find my directory useful.

Now… GO EAT!

 

food is so damn wonderful

4 Replies to “Restaurant: Great China”

  1. If you’re ever in the DC area and for your east coast readers I’ll point out the Peking Gourmet Inn in Falls Church, VA. They do the Peking duck exactly as shown in your photos above with the same crepes and fixins. Their Peking duck is quite excellent and the restaurant is well known in this area.

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