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#1 Chowdown of 2003:Report (very very long)

  • t

That was a great dinner at China Village in Albany! Thank you, Ericf, for recomending it, and Ruth, for organizing it! With the flavors still fresh in memory, I figure now is best time to work out those calories. :)

I confess that I failed to report to Chowhound when I first discovered this place last week while apt-hunting in Albany. It's at Ramona ant Sonano with a rather ordinary decor and green/white facade. They opened about 9 month ago. Even since I discovered their cold fun (mungbean jello), Dandan Noodle and sesame flat bread,I've been back 3 times to order take-out (from the southside of UC campus! :) ). So when Melanie asked me if I'd like to join for the Chowdown, I couldn't believe it! I'd get to taste all those dishes with the adventurous chowhounds!

Ruth, Melanie, Celery, Derek, Loraine, David, Ambria, Falicia, George and Falice came for the #1 chowdown 2003 too. (I am really bad at spelling people's names so do correct me if I misspelled). The Chinese New Year papercuts were up all over the place & the tables were quite empty. I think we were the only table in the second room.

My Mandarin came in handy while ordering, since, honestly, the English translation of their menu (150 items! Not including the Chinese blackboard) can be quite misleading. The hot-spicy Pork feet was in fact pig elbow (or trottle?). Derek had to use his arm to illustrate. :) The ordering was quite chaotic. We had so many choice! The waiter (or the manager? There were only one other waiter and one bus boy the whole time) was very helpful in cordinating the dishes. His English about food may be better than mine. Here are what we ordered:

Cold Plate:

1. Spicy Combination (aka:Husband and Wife--beef and tripe slices)
2. Sliced Side Pork with Spicy Garlic Sauce
3. Five Spicy Pig Ear
4. Spicy Diced Rabbit
5. Cucumber with Garlic Sauce

Main Dish:
1. Pickled Chili and Frogs (not on the menu)
2. Home Style(So-called) Pig feet (with red dates)
3. Stir Fried Beef with Chinese Celery
4. Village Special Lamb
5. Fire-Bursted Tripe--It is IN FACT Intestine.
6. Steamed Mandarin Fish (not on the Menu)
7. Tea smoked Duck
for veggie:
8. Hot Bruised Bean Curd (aka Ma-po Tofu)
9. Spicy Sauce Potato Strips
10.Chili Sauteed Mustard Green
(We thought we ordered: Water-boiled beef)

SzeChwan's Speciality:
1. Spicy Cold Fun (they have two variations:Zang Style or Chen Du Style. I odered both but only one came, might be the Zang one)
2. Sesame Flat Bread
3. Dandan Noodle

First came the Cold Plate 1-4. Derek had to hold off his chopsticks to let Melanie take some pics first. The Spicy Combination was very authentic, with miced cilantra; the boiled and sliced Pork Belly was soft and not fatty, each slice nicely folded bathing in an excellent spicy garlic sauce; Five Spice Pig Ear wasn't that spicy at all--crunchy with a little kick from the gralic shoot garnishes; Spicy Dice Rabbit was kind of hard in texture--you bite on it & thought:"SO What!", 15 seconds later the vicious spice kicks in and make the tip of your tongue,the inside of your mouth go numb. Whew, beer! Then came stacked cucumbers coated with garlic bits. Talking about Garlic Power! The cucumber cubes was crispy, firm (we suspect it might have been salted/cured) but the garlic flavor was seriously intense. All the cold dishes were tasty and spicy but the spicyness are entirely different. If I am really into it, i should try one dish at a time and figure out which group of taste buds gets busted for which.

Now the main Dishes: They are all very well presented with pretty red flower garnishes on the plate. The pickled Chili was very interesting--a little sour but still spicy. The frog was very tender--definately much tender than chicken. :) The Village Special Lamb was very good. The lamb had a very mild cummin taste to it& still very tender. The Stir Fried Beef with celery was OK. I wonder if that's because my mouth has overdosed n spices--the celery was nice. The Pork trottle was good--I just like the red dates much better. The bowl of cold fun (strips of clear jello make of mung bean, covered with hot, sweet and sour sauces) came around this time & everyone was struggling with the serving spoon and chopsticks. I think the bowl was mean to be eaten by one person, scooping everything with a spoon. Oh well, we resorted to forks. By this time, my plate had been completely occupied with a mess of different sauces, so I couldn't really tell which flavor the cold fun was.
Time to change plates for the steamed fish. It was deboned and soaked in a gingery sweet and salty clear sauce. The fish was very good (don't know if it's really freshly shiped from China, live), the sauce was saltier than the Cantonese ones I am used to. The fire-busted Intestines were crunchy outside and soft inside. I can't describe the taste--it's very good and you'd have to try it yourself. :) The potato Strips are really great too: it has chili in it but was not realy spicy--it has excellent flavors for such a simple dish. The Hot Buised (braised and MaPo) tofu was OK. The tofu was tender little cubes (how come I can never get the cubes stay intact?) with black beans in it. We were surprised that there were no meat in it. The Mustard Green with Chili was very pretty--green and red. My mouth was numb & can't really process any flavor anymore. But it was crunchy. The manager was obviously very proud of this dish--he gave me a whole lecture of how the right timing and mixture of the chili with the mustard the tartness of the vegie into smoky flavor. Hummn, maybe I should've paid more attention, right. Somewhere in between those dishes, the sesame flat bread came. I love it! It's layered with sprinkled green onions freshly baked with golden crunchy & flaky outside. Yumm.
After having this bread, it's hard to eat the bun that came with the Tea Smoked Duck. I don't know how it's supposed to be but this one is a little on the dry side & I don't really get the bun thing.
By this time, we were still wondering if we were going to get the ultimate spicy challenge: Water-boiled beef. No so, the finale Dandan Noodle came in little bowls. Melanie said the noddle wasn't right but the flavor was. I like the dry ground pork bits and the sauce. The noodle was OK--it tasted like Shanghai egg noddles from the Asian supermartets.
After the watermelon and jackfruit slices, we got our fortune cookies and the bill: All the dishes+rice + beer (4 big bottles of Tsingdao) +Tax+Tip came to $242 ($22 a head. Loraine got tons of singles. :)).

We stayed and talked a bit longer. It's so great to chow with the hounds! Afterwards, we talked to the Manager a bit. He was very into spices and tried to explain to me the difference of the peppercorns. Apparently, you can't get the numbing and spicy sichuan qiyang pepper corns in California because of some controlled substance. That explains why I couldn't find it anywhere in 99 Ranch. Interesting.

Highlight:
Slice Pork with Spicy Garlic
Cucumber with Garlic
fire bursted Tripe
Frog with pickled Chili
Village Special Lamb

Near-Miss:
Tea Smoked Duck
Hot braised Tofu.

What we couldn't bring ourselves to order:
Turtle
Blood Tofu

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

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  1. Well, I am glad to hear that a good time was had. Sorry I couldn't be there.

    I had the water-boiled beef the other day, and must say that I enjoyed it quite a lot. Beef and bok choy in an incredibly spicy ma-la broth that must have been based on stock, because it tasted quite rich. I haven't had much experience with this dish, but in the past have gotten sort of watery versions. This was not.

    Also had the Szechwan style spicy fish, which was just (la) chili-hot, lacking the peppercorns, but with a nice smooth sauce as well as Chinese celery.

    Thanks for the summary, tingting. Coincidentally, I've a friend whose Chinese name is also Ting-Ting.

    Cheers,
    ericf

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

    1 Reply
    1. re: ericf

      Eric, thanks so much for giving us the heads up! I really enjoyed our dinner last night and am sorry you couldn't join us. Next time, ok? There's still a bunch of interesting things we didn't get a chance to try.

      Water-boiled beef or pork is my favorite dish at the House of YuRong et al. I'll be interested to try China Village's version. Fyi, the manager said they're not connected by ownership, but don't know the about former staff. we also learned that the chef is Class I rated (the highest level) in Sichuan cuisine and came from the Grand Hotel in Beijing.

      Here's a picture of the beef with celery. I think I liked this more than others. The subtlety of the celery (even though it is quite strong compared to the local celery we're used to) and garlic flavor were very haunting. Also, the beef had been tenderized a bit, but wasn't flabby the way it is at some Chinese restaurants.

      Image: http://www.chowhound.com/misc/mel/chi...

    2. I just wanted to say thanks for letting me tag along last night! I actually really loved the cold fun, which seemed impenetrable to chili oil, but still cool and tangy from the vingary sauce. It was a great accompaniment to the heavy, spicy meats and reminded me alot of a similar Korean agar side dish.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Maria

        Sorry!
        I must mistyped your name. :) Yeah, I like that dish too. But last night, I wasn't sure which one I ordered and the taste of the cold fun was completed mixed up with other things. Thank you for the description.

        1. re: Tingting

          And thank you for ordering! It was alot of fun. I am curious about the turtle, though. :) Next time!

          1. re: Maria

            Here's one of the specials of the day: fresh frog. When we asked for it to be a different prep and less spicy, our server suggested the pickled chilis for less heat. I think David was spot on in saying those were from La Victoria - very tasty! (g)

            Image: http://www.chowhound.com/misc/mel/chi...

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Wow, your photos are making me hungry again. :)

              What was the original prep for the frog supposed to be?

              1. re: Maria

                I think he originally suggested the fresh frog ma-la with hot dried chilis. Despite the chaos of ordering (g), he still made some good suggestions on alternative preps for the three things we ordered that weren't on the menu: frog, Mandarin fish, and the mustard greens. For the fish, he also suggested it with bean paste, but said "clear steamed" was better.

          2. re: Tingting

            Some anticipation at the table. I'll let you caption yourselves if you want to be identified.

            Image: http://www.chowhound.com/misc/mel/chi...

          3. re: Maria

            I'm so glad we got to meet you, Maria! Don't be a stranger. Here's a picture of the bean jello-like fun.

            Image: http://www.chowhound.com/misc/mel/chi...

          4. Can I have the address?

            Thanks

            1. China Village
              1335 Solano
              Albany, 94706

              510-525-2285

              1. Excellent report. I pretty much agree with you about the highlights, although I may have been less impressed by the cucumber and the dan dan noodles (I might have been too full by the time the noodles arrived). I also liked the cold fun. Thanks again for bringing this place to everyone's attention--I especially appreciate it because it's right in my neighborhood!

                1 Reply
                1. re: amyd

                  Good to meet you! Here's the cumin-scented stir-fried lamb. Nice medley of flavors from the dried red Sichuan chili peppers, the fresh jalapeños, and the red sweet peppers. Eric done good in steering us to the best dishes. (vbg) I was impressed by the quality of lamb used for this dish, very tender and succulent, which may not be traditional but was much appreciated. I've had this at Little Sichuan in San Mateo which has more aggressive spicing and chewier meat.

                  Image: http://www.chowhound.com/misc/mel/chi...

                2. Great report! Thanks for doing the notes and ordering. We're excited to try more on the menu (although it seems kind of lame to just order a couple of dishes after last nights feast) .... maybe we'll just eat that sesame bread every time we find ourselves on Solano. Good to meet some new faces and Lee says thanks for the leftovers!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Celery

                    Here's the sesame bread. At this point in the evening, the dishes were coming out of the kitchen fast and furious. You can see that we had to go double-decker to fit everything on the table. (g)

                    The fragrance of the toasted sesame was wonderful. And this was one of the few examples I've had that wasn't doughy in the middle. It was great for mopping up the hot oil from the ma po dofu.

                    Image: http://www.chowhound.com/misc/mel/chi...

                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                      r
                      RWCFoodie/Karen M

                      Oh Melanie - you really know how to hurt me! How could I have missed this Chowdown? Where was I? I think I could kill for that sesame bread! I have to get to Albany and try this place but it just would never be the same without the Hounds! Aaarrgghhh! I want that sesame bread now!!! How can I even think of food after the feast we had today in Walnut Creek!

                      1. re: RWCFoodie/Karen M

                        What - you couldn't convince Mr & Mrs Yimster to swing by there?

                        I got a big order of take-out last night on my way back from Walnut Creek. The sesame bread gets a bit soft when packaged, even though they cut air vents in the box, but perks up nicely when heated in the toaster oven.

                  2. Thanks for the report and the help with ordering. I also agree about what the highlights were. I particularly liked the garlic punch of the slice pork and cucumber cold plates and the preparation of the frog dish (although frog is kind of bony).

                    There are actually two versions of the menu, so make sure you get the one with the Sichuan specialties on it (it does include English translations, although they're a little off, partly because some of the terms don't translate precisely). The manager was extremely helpful and if you're not sure what to order, will be happy to put together a meal that has a good balance of spicy and not so spicy dishes in varied preparations.

                    And don't be scared, I didn't think anything we had was *that* hot -- just make sure you don't bite down on one of the dried red peppers.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      This was one of my favorites too. You can see the masses of crushed garlic that gave their lives for this sauce in the picture. It was also fruitier in some way and a touch sweet. I was impressed by the variety of seasoning and spicing in the many, many dishes we ordered.

                      Image: http://www.chowhound.com/misc/mel/chi...

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        OK, 'fess up: Who made off with a piece of cucumber before the picture was taken??

                        Seriously, thanks for a wonderful report, tingting -- and the vivid visual aids, Melanie. Sorry I missed this.

                        1. re: squid-kun

                          Probably me!!! My Chopsticks have a mind of their own!...and they always seem to know the most direct route to my mouth!

                          1. re: derek

                            Well, there were six left. Guess that's OK.

                            "Mark O'Polo" -- I like that!

                          2. re: squid-kun

                            Hehe, yep, probably Derek...I've almost got him trained to wait. (g)

                            One thing I didn't get a picture of was the 5 spice pig ears - lovely dish with a blizzard of slivered scallions and garlic leeks mixed with thingly sliced brown/white striped bands of chewy tender porkish meat, cartilage and skin. So well-balanced with the hit of salt, anise, and aromatics. One of the best versions I've ever had.

                            Think I'm ready to go back again . . .let me know when you're up for Round 2.

                      2. Thanks for the great writeup and your menu help, and to Ruth and Ericf for setting it up! I had a higher opinion of the tofu than you, I think. I thought the spicing was quite subtle, and I liked the fermented black beans that dotted it a lot. With the cold dishes, the pig ear was very good, and the sliced pork was also nice. The frogs, pig trotters, tripe and mandarin fish were my favorite entrees, in addition to the tofu. I thought they were all delicious, especially the pig leg. I could see the relation to the trotters Lambert cooked at the picnic, but it was a bit different. The red dates were great. I also thought the potato was a surprise, and very tasty. I loved the grainy texture, almost like raw potato, but not mealy. The only dish I thought was a loser was the dandan noodle. I thought it had a Boyardee texture and a not-very-interesting flavor. Everything else was good. The lamb was unusual; Melanie pointed out that the Silk Road probably was responsible for its almost-Middle Eastern cumin flavor. The bread was a nice starch to soak up the heat, although the food wasn't remotely as hot as the Szechuan I'm familiar with. I didn't think it was weak, for the most part; just not super-spicy.

                        15 Replies
                        1. re: David Boyk

                          I didn't get any of those fermented beans!
                          Thanks for pointing out the other dishes. I think you have a much higher tolerance of spicyness than some of us so you could still appreciate the flavors in those later dishes. Some of my taste buds were seriously nuked after the second helping of the Spicy Diced Rabbit cold dish. :)
                          Maybe you should try the water-boiled beef some time. Ericf said it's pretty hot. :)

                          1. re: tingting

                            I like buche tacos, so it was interesting to have the Sichuan take on pork intestines. To me, this is a picture what a classic Sichuan dry-stirfry should look like. Next time I think I'll want to try the kidney cooked this way.

                            Image: http://www.chowhound.com/misc/mel/chi...

                          2. re: David Boyk

                            The red dates gave this dish a nice nuance, didn't it? I thought it was a bit too fatty and not quite rendered enough, but the sauce was wonderful on the rice.

                            The steamed Mandarin fish was revelatory for me. As I mentioned, I thought that only a Cantonese chef could show such a light hand with a steamed fish. The manager told us that overnight shipments arrive on Monday and Wednesday of live Mandarin fish from China, so those are the days to get the freshest.

                            Like you, I'm accustomed to hotter, spicier Sichuan food. But I liked the refinement and light touch that this chef has. Can't wait to go back!

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

                            Image: http://www.chowhound.com/misc/mel/chi...

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              I could be wrong, but I thought he said the fish came in on Wednesdays and Fridays.

                              Definitely, I wasn't complaining about the milder heat. I just thought it was interesting. I don't need everything to be hot; I just don't mind when it is, and sometimes I look forward to the excitement.

                              1. re: David Boyk

                                Friday would actually make more sense. Don't quote me on that. (g)

                                I'd been getting excited thinking about the mucho spiciness of the watercooked beef. Ah well, we had too much to eat as it was.

                                The heat levels here are a step down from House of YuRong et al and the food's not quite as salty either. The manager kept making the point that the flavor of the ingredients shows through with greater clarity at lower heat levels. Maybe so.

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  I heard Wednesday/Friday for the fish delivery also.

                                  You could probably get the food hotter if you asked for it (I think he went easy on us), but I agree with the manager (wish I'd gotten his name): I think the level of spicing we had let the flavors and the complexity shine through in all the dishes.

                                  As was pointed out, all the spicing in the dishes was different, which led to the stimulation of spicy food without the burnout (at least for me). I don't like it when all I can taste is "hot"!

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    Looks like I need to work on my spicy tolerance. :)
                                    I agree with Melanie on the Pork Shoulder. It was good but it wasn't very distinctive on the texture and flavor. The red dates, though, was a very interesting touch.

                              2. re: Melanie Wong

                                This was actually my favorite dish, and even though it wasn't spicy (I, too, could have gone for more heat in our dishes, in general) it was very flavorful (much credit to the dates). Also, the tenderness was fantastic. I found it a little weird eating dates with rice, but I think that's just because I'm not used to it.

                                And I liked the fattiness, but that is an ENTIRELY personal preference. :P

                                1. re: Maria

                                  Ooooh, I'm feeling an urge for the ultra-hot and spicy watercooked beef dish that we missed!

                                  This particular cut - braised pork shoulder - used to be a once a year thing for me. I think I've had variations on the theme about 6 times in the last 4 months! The novelty has worn off and I've gotten very particular about what I want the texture to be. You definitely have to like fattiness to enjoy this dish - I'm glad this is something we can enjoy together! But some have a slightly different quality to the fat, softer and more melting in the mouth, that I'm honing in on.

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                    Fat tastes good.

                                    Whose version is closest to ideal?

                                    1. re: David Boyk

                                      Among the recent offerings, the redcooked pork shoulder at China First in Milpitas was the closest to ideal. Here's a link to Derek's report on that meal.

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

                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                        When I first mentioned to tanspace about China First in Milpitas, I raved about that pork with the red sauce. I suggested that place when we had our scouting trip for the dim sum wars at Fu Lam Moon several months ago. My dad suggested that I ordered the pork and the shrimp dish. I enjoyed them both a lot.

                                        There is another authentic Szechuan place that my dad said is very special. It's in the same complex as the Szechuan Home in Union City. BTW, Szechuan Home at that location had gone downhill from what I heard. The other place can be another good candidate for a great chowhound dinner. I will try that place in the next couple of weeks. This could be another homerun. I don't think it has been reported here anywhere.

                                        1. re: Han Lukito

                                          Hey Han, let me know when you want to try that place in Union City. I've recently tried Szechwan Home in that same mall and noticed that place as well. We can do a scouting report first.

                                          -t

                                          1. re: Han Lukito

                                            Here's Yvonne's post on Golden Lake, if that's the Sichuan place you're thinking of. Sounds good!

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

                                2. re: David Boyk

                                  Here's a picture of the potato strips you described. This is one of my favorite things, so glad to have been introduced to it at House of YuRong. The utter simplicity of the barely cooked potato, oil and salt with just a bit of peppery nuance. The name of this dish on the menu doesn't make sense, there's no sauce and it's not spicy. The peppers in the picture were heated in the same wok - they add a smokiness but no heat.

                                  Image: http://www.chowhound.com/misc/mel/chi...

                                3. Tingting, thanks so much for handling the ordering! Yes, it was chaotic with me firing questions at you and Derek clamoring to order more, more. (g)

                                  Here's a picture of the Spicy Combination which was beef slices and tripe in hot chili sauce. I think this is traditionally made with beef lung, but this was regular beef muscle. This was the first dish that I tasted, and when I did, I knew we were going to have a very good dinner.

                                  The slices side pork is in the background where you can see how carefully the slices have been arranged. All the dishes were nicely presented, as befits a hotel chef. Fwiw, the restaurants in the top hotels in Asia are top notch too.

                                  Image: http://www.chowhound.com/misc/mel/chi...

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                    When I told my dad about this place, he confirmed that it is indeed a very good restaurant. He had a chat with the owner (speaks chinese). The chef is from Beijing. And the restaurant menu had excellent Szechuan dishes. For special occassions, the chef will dish out his expertise from Beijing.

                                    This was a big miss for me !

                                    1. re: Han Lukito

                                      I heard the chef was from the Beijing Grand Hotel. I am not fromBeijing so I have no idea how it is. Sounds grand, at least. :)

                                      1. re: tingting

                                        And, as I mentioned elsewhere, the chef's said to have a Class I rating in Sichuan cuisine. I wonder how he feels about making Mongolian beef and General's Tso's chicken here? (g)

                                        The Grand Hotel is very luxurious.

                                        Link: http://www.grandhotelbeijing.com/en/i...

                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                          Wow, THAT one! I remember passing by once, too poor to eat there of course. :)
                                          Hehe, may be I should make another visit to the resaurant just to make up for the lost opportunities. I am sure his rendering of Mongolian beef would be MUCH better than the New York Takeouts.:)

                                          1. re: tingting

                                            Gosh, tingting, it's Friday already - isn't it time for another sesame bread run for you? I was so impressed that you'd been there three times in your first week of trying the place. (g)

                                            Seriously, next time you go by there, would be great to know more about the chef's training and what it means to be Class I (the highest rank). Maybe they have to learn how to make all the American-Chinese classics too - egg fu yung, anyone? (g)

                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                              Wow, How did you know? :)
                                              I got the cold fun this time. It was the Chen Du Style cold fun we had. Yummm, very nice...

                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                Mmmm, my friend told me Class Superior is the highest. Class I would be roughly the level for a chef in an luxury hotel. I once got some sample made by a Class Superior dessert chef--mochi with red bean filling in the shape, color of a water-chestnut. It looked so real!

                                    2. Here's the picture of those gorgeous jade-toned Chinese mustard greens as you describe. These are at their peak in the cold months of the year - enjoy them now.

                                      Image: http://www.chowhound.com/misc/mel/chi...

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                        As you can see from all Melanie's pictures, not only was the food good but it was nicely presented.

                                        This from a restaurant that's no more expensive than any of the other neighborhood Chinese joints in the area.

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                          Great job, Melanie for the pictures. Picture is worth a thousand words indeed. Although the "right" words are worth even more. Nice descriptions too !

                                          These chinese chowhound dinners really takes advantage of the chowhound community plus generate some donations. Great way to sample numerous dishes that you would be afraid to order or take a chance.

                                          Soon, I will try to organize a dinner at TAM in Milpitas (Thailand and Vietnamese). I think it will be a great blast also. So far I got a handful of takers (5 people). Once I got 7, then we're ready to roll. Maximum is 20 (two tables).

                                          1. re: Han Lukito

                                            Thanks a bunch, Han.

                                            For your upcoming dinner, you might just want to pick a date that works for the 5 you alread have and post a new invite on the board with the details. I'm sure that more will sign up once you select a specific date.

                                          2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                            Thought it was worth mentioning that the Mandarin fish was only $16.95. This was about 1.5 lbs and a bargain. I didn't post the picture because it didn't look like much after it was deboned. I've been surprised enough times with the live fish surcharge on a bill to ask in advance - sometimes they're $30-50, especially around Chinese New Year's.

                                        2. I still can't get used to the idea of "Chinese Potato Dishes"!!!
                                          Maybe Mark O'Polo brought them from Ireland in a cross culture culinary exchange?
                                          Wonderful food, wonderful company!
                                          My mouth is still pleasantly seething with the Szechuan spices...I'll bring that warmth to "Shanghai" in Walnut Creek tomorrow!
                                          A new Jewish Deli named "Frischman's" is to open (along with the re-opening of the bakery-ice cream shop) on Solano Ave....I hope people will watch for this and report.
                                          I also saw a very beautiful, upscale Tea shop named "Celadon" in the Albany section of Solano Avenue. Has anybody been?

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: derek

                                            Maybe the Chinese who supposedly discovered America took the potatoes back (since potatoes are a New World food).

                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                              c
                                              Caitlin McGrath

                                              Hmmph, yes. In Mark O'Polo's time, the Irish weren't eating potatoes and the Sichuans weren't eating chilis (unless they made an even earlier foray west to the Americas!).