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Oct 26, 2007 02:35 PM

What to order at China Village?

Can't find any decent recent topics on the subject. I've never been there, but remember hearing good things. The hubby's craving Chinese, so I thought I'd pick something up to go on the way home. We like spicy, but not too greasy.

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  1. No one's responded yet? Ok, I know a lot people love this place and order all kinds of things. But we live down the street and always order the Chang Sha Chicken and Mixed Vegetable Prawns. That said, I think their food is a bit on the greasy side.

    2 Replies
    1. re: junk2

      Ok, thanks. Good to know. We usually fall back on King Tsin, but I just thought I'd try CV since I had read some promising reports. Which would you recommend?

    2. My faves are the boiled beef, chao ma mien, and fish in claypot. I'm not sure how well those would translate to take out.

      3 Replies
      1. re: SLRossi

        isn't chao ma mian a shandong dish? this is the noodle dish that is popular in korean-chinese restaurants that is spicy noodle soup with seafood, right? i've always thought of it as a korean-chinese hybrid dish until i started reading chowhound, and found out that a lot of those dishes are actually based on original chinese dishes, but from the shandong province, far north east in china. is chao ma mian a totally shandong dish or is it related to a sichuanese variant?

        and is china village at all BART friendly for SF folks with no cars?

        1. re: augustiner

          It's probably a 1.25 to 1.5 mi. walk from El Cerrito Plaza BART on reasonably level terrain.

          1. re: augustiner

            Yes, it's a Shandong dish and part of the Korean-Chinese vernacular. It can be spicy or not. The owner of China Village is Shandong from Korea and has the noodle standards (e.g., da lu, zha jiang). From time to time, he's said he'll be introducing more Shandong dishes. Maybe someone who's been there more recently can update us on this.

        2. I think there's a Beef with cumin dish that's really excellent...haven't been there in ages.

          8 Replies
          1. re: mambaker

            Cumin LAMB -- it's excellent. There are a zillion threads on this board about China Village, I'm surprised you didn't find any suggestions.

            Just remember: the best things are the authentic Sichuan dishes (this isn't one of those "mandarin-hunan-szechwan" restaurants that basically mean "Americanized Chinese food with a few more peppers"). If you order the regular Chinese-American dishes, you'll wonder what the fuss is about.

            Some of my favorites are the cold appetizers -- get the sliced pork in spicy garlic sauce. Also, get the sesame bread.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Thanks for the suggestions. Since I'm white, and probably wouldn't know authentic Chinese food (Sichuan, Hunan, or otherwise) from a hole in the wall, I'll need some more specific recs. And, since I don't care for lamb, the cumin lamb is out. Having said that, I don't usually gravitate towards sweet & sour pork or dishes like that. I tend to like dishes with a good amount of vegetables (not just meat and sauce) and a good amount of spice. No overly thick, salty, or greasy sauces please.

              You're right, there are a zillion threads that 'mention' CV, but when I searched for CV to look for ordering recs, I wasn't readily able to find anything, so this thread has/will prove to be useful for me and hopefully others as well.

              I decided to play it 'safe' tonight and go to King Tsin, which we know we love, but I'd still like to try CV sometime since I've read quite a few positive comments about it.

              1. re: chemchef

                I think you and I have similar tastes, and I really like the Chang Sha chicken - strips of chicken breast stir-fried with water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, snap peas and this mildly spicy sauce. Yum! Definitely try that at some point. I'm not sure they have it printed on their to go menu anymore-- maybe it's still on the menu inside the restaurant? What's your favorite thing at King Tsin? I've never been there.

                1. re: junk2

                  It is on the to go menu. It's entitled: "Changsha Chicken in a Clay Pot (White Meat)"

                2. re: chemchef

                  "No overly thick, salty, or greasy sauces please."

                  This may not be the cuisine for you. Many of the most popular Sichuan dishes are quite salty and oily. The flavor of the spectrum of capsicums used to create the authentic taste is extracted into the oil. Without a lot of oil, the taste cannot be the same. A lot of salt is used to balance the fire. Many of the cold appetizers are marinated in a pool of red chili oil with various spices. Our plates are usually swimming in oil after the first courses and need to be changed.

                  Just wanted to give you fair warning ahead of time about what to expect. I've read too many posts here (mostly on the NY boards) complaining about the salt and oil and wondering why certain Sichuan restaurants are highly touted, only to learn after their meal that this is the flavor profile of the cuisine.


                  P.S. Several of the most knowledgable and avid proponents of authentic regional Chinese cuisine on this board are white.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Well put! Some of what I really enjoy in Sichuan restaurants (and at home thanks to Ms. F. Dunlop and others) are the dishes with a layer of hopefully peanut oil colored deep red and pungently flavored from dried 'Facing Heaven Chilis' chao tian jiao [朝天椒], as well as 'Sichuan Pepper' hua jiao [花椒]. The unique Ma La (hot and numbing) flavors primarily in Sichuan Provence but sometimes to a lesser degree in Hunan Provence. Dishes such as Sichuan Hot Pot, Water Boiled Beef and/or Fish or ?, Ma Po Tofu and some others that I can't remember how to spell.

                    Is China Village best for those oily (yum) scorching and numbing dishes or should I try elsewhere?

                    Apologies to Chemchef, I'm not trying to hijack your thread!



                    1. re: sel

                      I've been to most of the "authentic" Sichuan places in the area, and after today's lunch, I can say that China Village is still the one to beat locally. To illustrate my point above about the red oil situation, here's a photo "crispypork" took of what a "clean" dinner plate looks like in a typical meal.

                      Nothing was hugely scorching or numbing this time, even the water boiled dishes. In the past, I'd almost choke on just the fumes, let alone the flames of eating the dish. That said, the three versions I tasted - kidney, fish, and eel - were all very tasty. Here's a link to the chowdown report,

                  2. re: chemchef

                    You might want to try using the advanced search, setting it for five years and sorting the threads by relevance -- not only will you get recs, but you'll get a lot of discussion about Sichuan cuisine -- even by/for white people.

              2. My two cents in addition the dishes already discuss here is to let the staff help you make the selections. Most of our chowhound meals there have been half our choice and half there recommendations. Believe me if you tell the staff what you like than you will be fine.

                We had tea smoke duck stir fry with chili pepper last time and it was really good. Also the soup of red chili pepper death. I still remember chowfun face when it came out. I am sure some one will remember the proper names.

                Also the cold appetizers available for the day are all good.

                Most important see what are the daily specials are.

                Good luck and good eating.

                1. First important item of information: anything described on the menu as "classic" really means standard/ubiquitous. Not necessarily bad, sometimes even good, but not really what China Village is all about.

                  My favorite items are:

                  1. "Widow Spicy Diced Rabbit w/ Bone, Very Tasty." Yes, that's what it's called, and it's an accurate description. Cold, bony rabbit marinated in chili oil with lots of star anise. Messy, lots of effort, but "very tasty."

                  2. Boiled Beef. As spicy and red as a Korean Soon Dubu. Rich, flavorful, and addictive.

                  3. West Style Spicy Fish Fillet. A truly massive bowl of fish soup covered by an equally massive heap of dried chilies. Do not fear. The chilies are removed before serving, and the broth carries their flavor without their heat.

                  4. Spicy Tofu with Fish Fillet. Another fish soup, this time with soft tofu. And this time the dried chilies remain in the bowl. The soup is spicy, red, and rich. A huge fave of mine.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: lexdevil

                    I have had these two dishes 3. and 4. in China. Sichuan food absolutely is about oil flavored with chiles and you can pick the food out of the oil

                    So good...

                    1. re: lexdevil

                      The way they explained it to us was that "Classic" meant typical American style Szechuan, whereas "Traditional" meant the real deal often meaning a plate full of whole dried chilies! Yum!!

                      One of our faves is the House Special Prawns.

                      My chile-deranged wife takes all the uneaten chiles "to go". ;)