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Chinese food experiences - more?

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  • BIM Apr 23, 2008 04:14 PM
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I've been following up on responses to my "out-of-towner looking for great Chinese restaurants in the Bay Area" post. Several hounds mentioned China Village in Albany and since I have been visiting a friend in the Berkeley hills I have stopped by for take-out a couple of times. I found the food to be happily comparable to my San Gabriel Valley haunts; not Americanized at all. I had a great bacon and leek dish, really good ants-climbing-a-tree, a decent mapo tofu and an unusual "chitterling with pickled vegetable." Anyone have any favorites from this place that I should try?

Another Chinese meal that I liked a lot was called Taiwan Restaurant on Clement in SF, called Taiwan Restaurant with tremendous pot-stickers (I'm not even a big pot-sticker fan) and noodles and seafood. I'm a big dim sum fan and was steered to a restaurant in Marin called Harmony, the food was not bad but the prices seemed astronomical after Clement Street.

I got take-out one night from R&G in Chinatown but I don't think I ordered well - I wasn't too impressed or maybe take-out is an unfair way to judge. While waiting for my food I even walked down to House of Nanking to see if I find glean some insight into the controversy. There was a crowd of people waiting to get in, and when I went inside it seemed that the Anglo crowd were all eating the same thing, though it didn't look bad.

So, Ok - that's the up-to-date report. Please giive me a couple more places to round out my tour - we still have a couple weeks left up her.

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  1. Since you're staying in Berkeley, you should know there's a branch of Taiwan in downtown Berkeley.

    There are many, many posts about what to eat at China Village -- if you click on the places link, the page will have links to quite a few previous discussions. You might also want to try Great Szechuan -- which has some former China Village chefs, and do a comparison.

    For another regional favorite, you might want to check out Shanghai in Oakland Chinatown (again see the places page for reports and recommendations).

    You're right -- R&G Lounge is really not a take-out place. If you go back, sit yourself down and order a salt and pepper crab.

    -----
    Shanghai Restaurant
    930 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607

    Taiwan Restaurant
    2071 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

    China Village
    1335 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

    Great Szechuan (closed)
    3288 Pierce St, Richmond, CA

    1. Another on Clement St: China First - try their Gnau Nam (Beef Stew) Gon Lo Won Ton. The S&P Chicken Wings on their "specials" menu is pretty darn good too. They also have budget-wise wo choy dinners. Then across the street to the corner Toy Boat for dessert!

      1. Great China has its following - the Peking Duck is a favorite among many. There are a few more details in this thread and if you do a search more will come up. Double Skin as an opener is another favorite.......

        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/31089

        -----
        Great China Restaurant
        2115 Kittredge St, Berkeley, CA 94704

        2 Replies
        1. re: gordon wing

          Their tea-smoked duck is also great.

          1. re: gordon wing

            Definitely check out Great China if you liked China Village. Try some of the Korean-Chinese dishes like tan soo yuk (sweet and sour beef or pork) and ja ja myung (noodles with brown sauce).

            PS: R&G is the kind of place you go for a big family dinner, not so much takeout. If you go back, try the birds nest (or as my dear departed uncle use to say "sheafood bashket").

          2. One more place: Jai Yun in SF. A very different experience than those previously mentioned....... here's a link to a somewhat recent dinner w/photo link.

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/489469

            -----
            Jai Yun
            680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

            1. Not a lot of stuff in the Bay Area that you can't find as good or better in SGV. (SGV is a much better place to satisfy your Hunan cravings.) However, I would recommend that you go to Koi Palace in Daly City, as I think it's better than anything we have down in the L.A. area.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Chandavkl

                Shanghai Dumpling King has caught up and passed some XLB places in SGV, like Din Tai Fung. I had DTF and SDK on back to back weekends and SDK really was better. I understand some people don't like DTF and it's declining but my experience has been collaborated by a few others. I was surprised. .

                1. re: ML8000

                  Yeah, DTF seems to be living off its reputation. You can do much better and cheaper on Valley Bl., so it's not surprising that you can do better in the Bay Area, too.

              2. Hmm, which Taiwan Restaurant did you eat at?

                I ate at the one in Berkeley over a year ago, and I thought it was good. I can't remember what I had, but I have seen various positive reviews on chowhound.

                Meanwhile, I ate at the one on Clement a few months ago and I thought it was pretty bad. I don't think I even wrote about it on Chowhound since I really had nothing positive to say -most of the food was very bland, though a friend ordered dry fried string beans that were pretty good.

                Are the two restaurants related?

                Dave MP

                4 Replies
                1. re: Dave MP

                  At this moment I would eat at the Berkeley one. My SIL and family lives in the area and says this batch of chef are good. But that was at least a month ago since I have talked to them.

                  Taiwan get a lot of rotating chef. But they normally stay for a couple of years.

                  1. re: Dave MP

                    I had the same experience lately. Ate at both places, the one in SF was horrible but the one in Berkeley was good. I am pretty sure they are not related.

                    1. re: tvr172

                      Logos, Chinese name and business cards are identical, so at a minimum they are of common origin if not still under the same ownership. Ditto for the now closed Chinatown branch on Columbus St.

                    2. re: Dave MP

                      The OP identified it as the Clement St. one. I haven't been there in a long time, but the Taiwan Restaurant on Clement used to be good for lunch-type items (jiaozi, noodle soup, Chinese pastries, etc.) I have never been there for dinner. IT sounds like the OP may have been there for lunch.

                      According to ABC records the two are not related, but I was under the impression that they originally were. There was a Taiwan Restaurant at Broadway and Columbus in SF (Where La Perilla is now) that was definitely related to the Clement St. branch.

                      According to my Taiwanese friends, Taste of Formosa on outer Clement may be better than either of the two, though it has a fairly limited menu.

                    3. I actually really like Taiwan - I know it's not cool and edgy enough to draw raves around here much, but I really enjoy the food. Red cooked eggplant, Taiwan-style chicken in clay pot, very good dumplings, delicious soups - and dirt cheap.

                      1. Here's my short list of "best Chinese in Bay Area":

                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/491178

                        "What to order at China Village" topic:

                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/42931...

                        Have you read the "Flushing Chinese vs San Francisco area" topic? Lots of good recs there:

                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/504776

                        Here's BIM's previous topic:

                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/500893

                        1. This is probably on Robert's list, but don't forget Daimo in Richmond. It's only a little farther than CV.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: nicedragonboy

                            Daimo and a few of the other restaurants in the Pacific East Mall are pretty solid.

                          2. I really like the Legendary Palace in Oakland. I don't claim to be an 'officianado' of Asian Cuisine; however, in my travels around the Bay Area and even further afield I've always found their food to be consistent and especially delicious. In addition, they really don't shortchange you on the portion size and if it means anything at all the majority of the clientèle are Asian.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: DrBehavior

                              Tried Taiwan in Berkeley tonight - liked it pretty well. Had a great steamed tendon - beef ligament it was called - like butter. And the tofu skin roll was pretty great too. It's funny, when I told my the local couple I was visiting that I'd eaten there they couldn't believe it - they always thought that restaurant was pretty mediocre. Guess it's all in what you order.

                            2. You may well have ordered poorly -- R&G is the kind of place where you have to cherry-pick the menu; that's why I usually recommend Great Eastern. No one has ever gotten mad at me for recommending GE.