HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese? Tell us about it
TELL US

Ark in Alameda, post-Chef Jimmy Zheng

daveena Nov 30, 2006 01:45 AM

I've been hanging onto a scrap of paper with "Ark in Alameda - ge da soup" scribbled on it for months, and it was with some disappointment that I read about the departure of their famed chef, before I ever even got to try it out.

However, the idea of a spicy seafood soup with hand-made noodly dumplings was too tempting, so I hauled a bunch of friends out to Alameda, with the caveat that "their chef left".

I shouldn't have worried - while I never got to try the food with Jimmy Zheng there, I have to say that it's pretty good now.

We had:

Ge da soup - a Korean-influenced seafood soup filled with handmade, cat-ear pasta. The pasta's dense and tends to sink to the bottom of the bowl, so you have to work a bit to get yourself a good soup to noodle ratio, but it's worth it.

Potato salad - shreds of crunchy, nearly raw potato the diameter of angel hair pasta, dressed in a pungent garlic sauce.

Fish in chili sauce - a Dongbei special that night - not sure what kind of fish it was. The sauce was dominated by shaoxing wine, and garlic, along with the chilis. The sauce, which was intimidatingly red on presentation, was mellower than expected.

Cumin lamb - seared to the point of caramelization, these morsels were almost crispy, but still tender. I'll admit there may have been too much cumin for me - I think I prefer green onion with lamb.

La pi (mung bean sheets with cucumber and pork) - I loved this dish. It's dressed with a mild, vinegary soy based sauce, and the gentle acidity of the sauce, along with the slippery coolness of the bean sheets, were a great foil for the spicier, more assertively flavored dishes.

Ganpeng (fried chicken wings) - as good as everyone says. Sweet, slightly spicy, crisp-skinned, and satisfyingly meaty, these were great wings.

Some of the more hoary Chinese-restaurant standards were good too - the green beans with pork were tender and deeply flavored without being shriveled from a preliminary deep-fry, and the garlic eggplant was remarkably dense, flavorful, and greaseless. The only two dishes that were merely okay were the salt and pepper squid, and the clams in black bean sauce (not bad, but not great).

Oh, and dinner for 10 came out to $103, after tax.

  1. k
    kc72 Nov 30, 2006 03:21 AM

    Where in Alameda is Ark located?

    1. daveena Nov 30, 2006 06:15 AM

      1405 Park St.

      1. Melanie Wong Nov 30, 2006 06:46 AM

        Crusty cumin lamb, hard to find around here. Sounds wonderful to me.

        1. tanspace Nov 30, 2006 08:47 PM

          Just to want to nitpick on one item. The Ge Da Soup is a Chinese dish and not a Korean influenced one at all. It is a basic homestyle noodle soup dish from Shandong province. Shandong cuisine is better know as the modern day Beijing cuisine, and the representative of the Northern Chinese cuisine. Things like the La Pi (aka Liang Zhang Pi; two pieces of skin) and Gan Peng dishes are all originated from Shandong.

          -t
          eat.tanspace.com

          1 Reply
          1. re: tanspace
            daveena Dec 1, 2006 01:49 AM

            Well... the soup tastes a lot like the the non-tofu part of a Korean tofu casserole... and Shandong is really close geographically to Korea - can't it be both Korean influenced, and authentically Chinese?

          2. a
            anli Nov 30, 2006 09:15 PM

            Glad to know that the standards haven't slipped. Try the shrimp on skewers, comes with a little dish of salt & cumin. Kids love it. Also, their little fried dumplings are great. Thanks for the report.

            1. a
              anli Dec 1, 2006 03:43 PM

              Ge da noodles are typically homemade and not always in a spicy broth. I agree with tanspace that there's no Korean influence, more likely ge da came to China via the Silk Road or Islamic connections. Here's a neat article about Beijing cuisine:
              http://www.chinaheritagenewsletter.or...

              1. daveena Jul 27, 2008 04:05 PM

                Went back for the first time since the original post.

                Ge da soup was satisfying, but I think the broth was a little spicier and richer the last time I had it.

                Cumin lamb was fantastic - the texture was totally different from last time. Ultra-thin, crisp shavings of lamb, with an assertive but not overwhelming cumin flavor. Served on a bed of broken skinny fried rice noodles (like sev, but white), and a sprinkling of cilantro on top. Really, really good.

                -----
                Ark Chinese
                1405 Park St, Alameda, CA 94501

                Show Hidden Posts