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Chinese Restaurant in Rockridge?

Has anyone been to the Chinese restaurant in Rockridge across from Market Hall? I can't remember the name -- it used to be Becky's or something. Is it any good?

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  1. I moved from Rockridge 3 years ago, but at the time that Chinese restaurant was an OK neighborhood place to eat. I haven't been back there since I moved. It was remodeled shortly before I moved, but I believe was under the same ownership and I recall 3 different names. They used to have a very reasonable rice plate dinner special. I remember liking the shrimp with black bean sauce.

    A better, but slightly more distant, option would be The Great Wall "vegetarian" on College just north of Alcatraz. I really like their fish dishes and they have many faux meat dishes.

    2 Replies
      1. re: adamshoe

        Great Wall is .4 miles north, Shen Hua is .9 miles north of Rockridge BART.

    1. What's your reference for good? Neighborhood good? Regional..Cantonese, Hunan, etc.?

      Shen Hua is in the Hunan/northern/non-Canto vein of Chinese cooking. My take is that it fits the 'hood, nice place, okay food...if you know what to order.

      I've only been once and so I don't know what to order. If I lived in the hood I might be motivated to vet the place..I wouldn't make a trip there however. I'd just go and try it. My limited knowledge it shouldn't be bad...just not great, probably 4-6 very good menu items.

      1. Haven't been for many years myself, but would occasionally stop by for a plate of random chinese. Not a destination, but not inedible - a long time ago.

        Regrettably it was the only chinese right by the station - I always wished for more choices, but there you go.

        1. I think it is still Beckys. We like it as easy Chinese-American food. My husband still orders the tomato-beef, which was on the old menu. The new servers try to give him chow fun, but he steers them back. The quality is above nuclear- red sweet and sour pork places, but not up to some of the more venerated places like China Village. Totally acceptable weeknight dinner.

          1. Drove by today and the sign outside says Becky's Chinese Cuisine. Here's the menu

            1. We eat at Becky's fairly often. It is always good, service is good, and they are friendly, As to whether it is too American, I don't know. But I have never had a bad meal there. My vegetarian friends were very happy with their meals also.

              1. I would recommend skipping Becky's and travel a bit further up College Ave. to Shen Hua. Becky's is very mediocre at best, even for Americanized Chinese fare. I've enjoyed some tasty dishes at Shen Hua, including Beef Chow Fun that tastes pretty authentic to this ABC. Their stir fry dishes are good too. And nice size portions.

                I've only been to Great Wall once and was pretty disappointed. Much of it tasted under-seasoned.

                7 Replies
                1. re: toofacetious

                  I lived in Rockridge for 6 years. When we're in the area (not often), one thing we often seek out is Shen Hua's Andy's Chicken - chicken in a fermented black bean sauce that tastes better than it sounds. I've had other black bean sauce dishes but none comes close to the awesomeness that is Shen Hua's version. Unfortunately the other dishes are indeed hit or miss.

                  Side note: If anyone knows a place in the South Bay or on the Peninsula with a dish comparable to Andy's Chicken I'd love to hear about it (especially if it's made with white meat).

                  1. re: katya

                    Kirin in Berkeley has an Andy's Chicken, sauteed white meat chicken with roasted peppers and fermented black beans is a garlic infused sweet and sour wine sauce. I can't taste all that but it's a light sauce and very tasty. Andy must has gotten around, sort of like General Tsao.

                    Kirin Chinese Restaurant
                    1767 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

                    1. re: wolfe

                      Actually, in this case I think Kirin has the Andy's Chicken dish because it's Shen Hua's sister restaurant. I believe they have the same owner. The dish is described on Shen Hua's menu as being named after a long-time customer who always requested this dish. So I don't think Andy is like General Tso in that respect. I wish there were more historical figures associated with food though...

                      1. re: katya

                        You would probably like the French fast food restaurant that serves Buchephalus burgers.

                        1. re: katya

                          Andy's chicken is also on the menu at the third sister restaurant, Ching Hua in Alameda. I had lunch with my sister there the other day and was not impressed by the food -- I thought it was way too sweet (even though both dishes we had were spicy) and gloppy. I live across the street and this is only the third time in four years I've eaten there, which should tell you something. I'm much more likely to order cheap, surprisingly tasty Chinese-American from Gim's a couple of blocks away.

                        2. re: wolfe

                          I was surprised to see that Kirin has closed! Anyone know why?

                          1. re: zunzie

                            I just called the restaurant and it is open. The man on the phone laughed when I said there were rumors it was shuttered.

                    2. Becky's is perfectly fine Chinese-American food, and good if you're wanting that kind of food and live in the neighborhood, but nothing to go out of your way for. Shen Hua, which is not the restaurant that you were asking about, but is farther down College in Elmwood, is a place that I remember as being great when it opened, but now isn't particularly good, and is more expensive than it needs to be. Of the two, I would (and have) picked Becky's, but my last mediocre experience with Shen Hua was over a year ago, so I may be out of date.

                      If I'm craving Chinese food in the Rockridge area, though, I just try to convince myself that Thai or Japanese would make me just as happy, and go to Soi 4, Uzen, or Tachibana, all much better choices.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: JasmineG

                        Yep, perfectly fine Chinese-American food. I actually took a group of 6 year-olds to Becky's last night for a birthday dinner. They loved, loved, loved it. (This should tell you something.) Our very friendly waiter thoughtfully arranged to have fried bananas brought to the table for the celebration. Personally, not my thing, but the kids agreed they were "awesome." I was simply happy drinking my Trumer Pils with my chow fun and watching people parade up college ave. So, I have to agree, if you're local and don't feel like making a trek to China village (superlative food, IMO), then Becky's can handily satisfy your craving.

                        1. re: JasmineG

                          I second this sentiment. I live in Rockridge and have only been here once. While the food is fine, I can't bring myself to go back there when there are so many better options in the immediate area. When I crave Chinese I usually head to Great China in Berkeley or go deeper into Oakland.

                        2. This isn't Chinese, but for an slightly Chinese-oid treat I like Nan Yang. It's always delicious and is on College at Claremont. Really nice service and high quality food.

                          1. link

                            Shen Hua
                            2914 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

                            Nan Yang Rockridge
                            6048 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

                            Becky's Chinese Restaurant
                            5620 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

                            Great Wall
                            6247 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

                            1. Never been to Becky's, but I currently live in the Elmwood, and would take King Yen over Shen Hua any day. I'm no expert on authenticity, and I realize that they are different styles of Chinese food (different regions?), but I definitely like King Yen's preparations better. I think their food tastes fresher and like their variety better. Everything I've ever had from Shen Hua tasted very heavy, but maybe that's just Northern Chinese cuisine in general. Lastly, (but certainly not least), the service at Shen Hua has been horrible every time I've gone there (approximately 5-7 times in the past year). Even their take-out service is bad. Once they forgot to pack up some of our leftovers, and then accused us of lying about it. Very bad customer service all the way around. King Yen has never been anything but pleasant for us.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: chemchef

                                Like Shen Hua for what it is. A non-chain PF Chang's. Very kid-friendly which we appreciate and service is always a pleasure. We've been a bit disappointed at some oversalted dishes. And found their XLB crab dumplings to be fishy as well. That said, we'll be back.

                                We like Becky's as the posters above describe. Decent Chinese-American with nice service. Added bonus right now is Becky's is donating 30% of dinner proceeds to the Chabot school development project. I think it is through the 26th of Nov. or so.

                              2. Which is better American Chinese?

                                King Yen or Becky's?

                                1. Becky's is a bit too Americanized Chinese for me. Definitely prefer Kirin or Shen Hua (whose owners are brothers).

                                  ALSO, I recently heard that the owner of Kirin in Berkeley is opening a restaurant on College Ave in Rockridge in the next couple months.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: fatbusterbrown

                                    That must be the new space next to the Library and Garibaldi's

                                    re:ALSO, I recently heard that the owner of Kirin in Berkeley is opening a restaurant on College Ave in Rockridge in the next couple months.

                                  2. I had a craving for spring rolls last night, so this thread in mind, I decided to get food from Shen Hua, where I hadn't been in at least a year and a half, maybe more, to see if it had improved. Well, the spring roll was everything that I wanted -- crispy, just a little greasy (probably only because I got them as takeout, but it wasn't unpleasant), with lots of vegetables and flavor. The Pan Pacific won tons were good too, though these were a little more tough. The entrees were where I had problems -- I got the spicy dry fried chicken and the spicy garlic eggplant, and the chicken was pretty much awful. It was dry alright, but I don't think this was what was advertised, and had that slightly old chicken taste. The vegetables that came along with it were pretty tasteless also. The eggplant was better, but not all that spicy or interesting. And the prices confirmed my earlier thoughts about Shen Hua -- the chicken was $12 and the eggplant was $8.50, which is expensive for this kind of chinese food in the first place, and really expensive for the quality. Next time, I'll either just stick to the appetizers, which were good, or go to Becky's, which is cheaper and better.

                                    1. Jasmine, I agree that Chna Village on Solano is the best around. What do you think of the soup with a hundred red chilis floating on the top?

                                      1. Since we were going to be in the neighborhood, met a friend at Becky's for dinner last night.

                                        Wow. Really awful. Not that the food was terrible, but just that it had all of the faults and few of the virtues of Americanized Chinese food. It was bland, except for the wor wonton soup which tasted of white pepper and not much else. Most of the dishes listed zucchini as a vegetable (apparently there are only about half a dozen different vegetables in the kitchen). The beef with string beans (I was looking for something without zucchini) was reasonably tasty but a total oil slick. The chicken curry was bland and neither dish had enough sauce to go on the rice. No tea was offered, even on a bitterly cold night.

                                        This is Chinese food for people who really don't like Chinese food. Or good food. I'd rather eat hearty, cheap old-school American Chinese than food that's so yuppified it has no soul.