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ISO quality regional Chinese restaurants w/in one hour of Oakland

Our school spends one week each spring offering mini-courses outside of the usual curricular offerings. I've put together courses on chocolate, Hollywood, Minor League Baseball, and artisan food producers of the Bay Area, among other topics. This spring I hope to offer Chinese Food 101. The goal of the course is to help the students avoid ordering sweet and sour pork and chicken chow mein for the rest of their lives. I'd like to introduce the kids (grades 9-12) to a range of Chinese regional cuisines. I have not yet decided if it will be a full day course (allowing us to visit 10 restaurants) or a half day course (which would limit us to 5). Regardless, I'd love your suggestions for the best exemplars of Cantonese, Szechuan, Mandarin, Hakka, Hunan, Shanghainese, Manchurian cooking, etc. to be found locally. Additionally, I'd love guest speakers who could talk to the kids about a given cuisine, perhaps joining us for the relevant meal.

I'm also considering dragging the kids down to LA for a night, but only if it would mean a significant improvement in quality or the possibility of trying something that is simply unavailable in the Bay Area. Feel free to include suggestions like, "There is no food from Macau in the Bay Area. Check the LA board for this option," or "While Little Potato in Union City is good, the food at ? in Monterey Park is more authentic and worth the trip." See this thread on the LA board for offering LA suggestions: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/... .

Thanks in advance for your help.

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  1. Consider China Village for Sichuan ..... many posts about this place.

    http://www.chowhound.com/search/std?q...

    5 Replies
    1. re: gordon wing

      Those lunch reports scare me a bit, given that we'd most likely be there between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM. Anyone have a clue about whether China Village is a no go at lunch, or whether the two scary posts don't represent the usual noontime picture?

      1. re: lexdevil

        I second the recommendation - in fact, I was there just last night. I go there often enough with coworkers for lunch and never have any problems - what were you worried about specifically?

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

        1. re: coolbean98

          I was concerned because of the recent posts indicating a not so yummy lunch.

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

          1. re: lexdevil

            Well, not everyone is going to love it - my vegetarian buddy hates it. (Than again, he hates most Chinese food.) But more of my friends like it than not - many of us feel it's the best Chinese in the Berkeley area. Since the time of that posting above (March) we have had no problems with our orders, lunch or dinner.

            Some dishes are better than others (I almost never order "Classic" Chinese dishes or dishes off the lunch menu), so it helps to really talk to the owner/manager to get the best authentic dishes that may not be on the menu. I say give them a call and see what they can do for your special outing - they have been great for us the times we have been there for special events.

            1. re: coolbean98

              There are numerous topics here discussing what to order at China Village for a serious Sichuan meal.

    2. For Sichuan food, your kids might also like the trendy youth-oriented hipness of one of the Spicy Sisters. I'm thinking particularly of Spices II in SF, but haven't been in Spices III in Oakland.

      For Shanghainese food on this end of the bay, Shanghai in Oakland Chinatown and Old Shanghai in San Francisco (Richmond dist.) are probably the most hard core, considering the prevalence of Shanghainese-speaking staff and customers as well as the menus. Shanghai in Oakland is a hole-in-the wall better suited for lunch (excellent xiaolong bao, too) while Old Shanghai is a little tonier with a dinner-grade ambience.

      1. The original comment has been removed
        1. Little Potato in Union City for Dong Bei style. I can't vouch for the authenticity, but they definitely have tasty dishes. Plus it's in the same plaza as China Tofu and a new hotpot place, I can't remember the name though.

          1 Reply
          1. re: DezzerSF

            I've been thinking about both! Love the meatballs and pork and leek dumplings at Little Potato. I recall a few comments on this board that they haven't quite captured the flavors correctly.

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

            That thread mentions other places, but doesn't comment on their quality.

          2. The Pacific East Mall in Richmond has a range of Chinese restaurants, from dim sum and Cantonese seafood to Taiwanese to Shanghainese to Hong Kong cafe and Macanese (Macau), plus that whole Chinese grocery store thing, that's worth a whole day's tour.