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The good and the bad at Berkeley's Great China...

  • s

Hello SFBA CH community...

We have a dinner reservation at Great China in Berkeley... And since they seem to require a minimum of $15 per person...

I'd/we'd like some suggestions, or warnings, on what's good... And what to avoid... At this fine dining establishment...

Thank you for your input... :)

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  1. Don't miss the double skin. The shredded pork w/ dried tofu is nice. The wine specials list has some real deals. The Navarro white table wine at $16 is more than fair, and good with the food. There's also a sub $20 Bordeaux that is nearing the end of viability, but very nice and a great bargain.

      1. Try Peking duck, double skin, seafood ravioli/dumplings and pea shoots (ask for the pea shoots if they are in season but not on the menu), The lunch deals have gone up in price but are still a good deal, with large portions. I don''t know whether a minimum is a new policy or whether it is enforced; I think we've eaten there for less & not been questioned.

        1 Reply
        1. re: neu

          Noted on the last page of the PDF of their menu located at their on-line site:

          'Reservations for parties of 6 or more are taken depending on availability, and may be cancelled if you are more than 10 minutes late. Reservations are subject to a $15 per person minimum.'

          Probably not strictly enforced... As long as you get close enough to their 'target'... ;)

        2. My wife loves the Peking duck - they crisp the skin and take all the meat off the bones. Their walnut prawns are fabulous - no mayo sauce here. My wife also likes their various mu shus. There was a fried gloppy tofu dish that we weren't fond of - sorry don't remember what it was called. Enjoy!

          1. The other dish I like there that I haven't seen other places is the sauteed crab served with steamed buns. And of course, you should ask about what specials they have.

            1. We love the giant clams (served in huge clam shells) which are often available as a nightly "special."

              1 Reply
              1. re: cvhound

                The dish you are thinking of is the one I would recommended too. Giant Surf Clam I believe is the name of the clam. Sometime available in Asian market. Not sure if there is a season for them since they are not available all the time.

              2. The best Chinese food in Berkeley, definitely. I agree with lexdevil, do not miss the double skin salad. The Peking duck is really good, but if you're on a budget you can't go wrong with the guo ta tofu, ong choy with garlic sauce, wok braised lamb if you like big flavors (ask for kim chee to go with that). Good, very reasonably priced wine list, good beer, too, in a pleasantly funky atmosphere.

                1. They also have a number of Korean-Chinese dishes, like "tan soo yuk" (fried sweet and sour beef). I thought it was pretty good the one time I tried it, but others on the board have found it too sweet--which I can understand.

                  The waitresses can be a bit pushy as far as what vegetables they want you to order (at least that has been my experience). But generally speaking, whatever they say is freshest is a pretty good bet. The ong choy with fermented bean curd is great, but I don't think that'll be in season now (?).

                  The Peking duck is a must-order, as far as I'm concerned, especially if you're going with a larger group.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: abstractpoet

                    Tang soo yuk is sweet and sour beef. Apparently their version is quite traditional, but it's the only one of their house specialties (conveniently market with asterisks on the menu) I wouldn't order again. I prefer Chef Yu's version.

                    I prefer the tea-smoked duck to the Peking duck.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Right, beef--I mistyped. Have yet to try the version at Chef Yu's, but I think it's the sort of thing you have to have a taste for and be in the mood for anyway.

                      I liked the tea-smoked duck the one time I tried it, but find you fill up so much more quickly with those steamed buns than with the crepes.

                      1. re: abstractpoet

                        I don't eat the buns or the crepes. And you can always get crepes intead of buns or vice-versa.

                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I was taught to dip the tang soo yuk beef in a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar (just pour small amounts of both on to your plate), which helps to cut the sweetness. Every Korean I know eats their tang soo yuk that way.

                        1. re: cvhound

                          Yeah, I do that. I still prefer Chef Yu's version.

                    2. Has anyone ever had the Mandarin Chicken at Great China?

                      Is it like San Tung's dry-fried chicken (wings)?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: slew

                        According to the menu, it's "Deep-fried drumettes, stir-fried with a sweet, peppery sauce." I suspect it's one of the dishes the chef has on the menu to please people looking for Chinese-American food.

                        If you want to eat well, stick to the dishes marked "house specialty."

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Which is easier now that the list has been pared down to 32 items.

                      2. Has anyone found any of the soups worthwhile to try?

                          1. re: slew

                            The dumplings are pretty good--on the small side, but a very generous portion, so it's really good bang for your buck. I like Shan Dong's dumplings better personally, but these are a solid pick as well.

                            The sauce that comes with it is good too--not too sweet like some places (though of course you can always mix your own).

                            1. re: abstractpoet


                              Great China Restaurant
                              2115 Kittredge St, Berkeley, CA 94704

                            2. re: slew

                              Their dumplings are nothing special. They do a small number of dishes well. the Peking duck, tea smoked duck, double skin. That's about it. The others are OK but nothing you'd go out of your way for.

                              1. re: PeterL

                                My favorite dishes are:

                                double skin
                                fried oysters
                                steamed surf clams
                                tea-smoked duck

                                Those plus the great wine list are the main reasons I go there. I also really like:

                                sautéed crab meat
                                braised lamb
                                Peking duck
                                pork belly with preserved vegetable (mei cai kou rou)
                                ong choy
                                pea leaves

                                Some other people's recommendations: