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Mar 31, 2012 11:27 AM

Fire at China Village (Albany)

China Village is closed because of a fire on 3/24. When I stopped by for lunch yesterday, the regular staff was busy cleaning up; apparently the fire didn't do too much damage. A sign on the door said they expect to reopen in a couple of weeks.

What's going on with Chinese restaurants and fires? Saigon Seafood, L&L, Great China and now China Village--I can't think of any other local restaurant fires in that timeframe.

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  1. I wonder if Chinese restaurants are more prone to fires due to the super-hot wok burners they use?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      it could be something as simple as someone forgetting to extinguish the flames at the end of the work shift. or leaving something cooking and forgetting about it.

      by noting time of fire, it's probably the former.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Tends to be grease build up in the ventilation systems that are the culprit for many restaurant fires. With all the frying and oil blanching the buildup happens fairly quickly.

        1. re: chefj

          Many years ago, when I worked in a restaurant kitchen, the boss said they got the chimney professionally cleaned frequently -- I don't remember how often, but I think it may have been monthly. I can see that it would be tempting to do it less frequently in bad times, but it's obviously a dangerous place to cut costs. I don't know that they did anything like that, but I just meant to say it builds up very fast.

      2. yowzah! that horrible news.
        now where's a person s'posed to go for a fix of bittermelon?...

        1. That 'Spicy Fish' dish they serve there looks like it could start flaming any second.

          1. Also this fire at the beginning of last year in El Cerrito:
            "A fire destroyed the kitchen of L & L Chinese Seafood Restaurant on San Pablo Avenue Sunday morning after an employee accidentally locked himself in the freezer and apparently left something heating on a stove, fire officials said." (From El Cerrito Patch)

            1. that explains it. we tried going for dinner and wondered why they were closed. ended up at King Tsin - thoroughly enjoyable dinner, made more so by the 2-piece band and the older chinese couples dancing the tango to really cheesy chinese muzak-type songs. and the light show. apparently this happens every saturday night. awesome. very warm and considerate service. food was maybe not as special as China Village but it was all very good (my favorite was the umbrella eggs over pork/veggies/sprouts) and really inexpensive. mapo tofu was meatless - a first for me, tho i know that's not abnormal - and did not have enough of the tongue-numbing quality that i wanted. I'd definitely go back if not looking for really good and hot sichuan.

              12 Replies
              1. re: mariacarmen

                Thanks for the report on King Tsin -- it was a family favorite 30 years ago, but I haven't been in recent years.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  I thought that they had disappeared when China Village appeared.

                  1. re: wally

                    Nope. I vaguely recall King Tsin was closed for a while and/or there was some talk of it going out of business, but it managed to resurrect itself, with some changes over the years.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Believe it's always been open, just different members of the family trying to run it, the enlarging of the bar/sports bar and adding dim sum. Think they offer some sort of buffet/karaoke combo on Saturday nights

                      Was a family favorite also 20-30yrs ago, went there a couple months ago and it just wasn't the same.

                      1. re: kc72

                        not buffet (at least, not this past Sat. night). they also have a sandwich board outside that says they have a special menu available - i don't recall what all was on it but i do remember there being Foie Gras available, for $22.

                        1. re: mariacarmen

                          We ordered from King Tsin the other night, take-out, to drive about half a mile. The food all held up well, and even though it was a repeat of what we'd had our first time - the pork with egg umbrella, mandarin beef, and spicy crispy beef - it was all even better than we'd remembered and maybe even better than when we ate at the restaurant - but my sister had read someone's review on CH about the pan-touched chicken and we were shocked at how terrible it was. it was like thick cardboard and flavorless, almost to the point that we thought it might not even be made of real meat - like some soy substitute or something, in a mostly flavorless sauce. really such a huge contrast to the rest of the food, we're assuming it was an off night for that dish. but our order was ready within 15 minutes of placing it, so i'm assuming it was fresh..... can someone describe how this dish is supposed to taste? i mean, it's a chicken breast, so i wasn't expecting the most tender meat ever, but this was actually inedible.

                          again, tho, everything else was really stellar. oh and we ordered a side of sauteed broccoli that was i believe the best just simply wokked broccoli we'd all ever had. super crispy but not like you feel you're just eating veggies al dente for the sake of saying you are (because i happen to also like broccoli steamed til it's soft and sweet) - this was incredibly crisp and light and super flavorful. wonderful stuff.

                          1. re: mariacarmen

                            the new crop of local broccoli is exceptionally good right now. for wok crisped green veggies, there's a common technique that enhances the texture, flavour, and color -- a pinch of sugar.

                            1. re: mariacarmen

                              Wow. Sorry to hear the pan-touched chicken was terrible. It was an old favorite of mine there. My memory is of a whole chicken breast (i.e. both halves), pounded to an even thickness, lightly breaded/ sliced on the diagonal and served with a light rice wine sauce flavored with garlic and cilantro (which in those days was often called "Chinese parsley").

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                it was just so jarring, as the rest of the food had been so good. like i said, maybe a fluke...? hope so - what you describe sounds very nice.

                  2. re: mariacarmen

                    Sorry to say the band, dancing and buffet on Saturday is no more. Did enjoy a new dessert for us steamed thousand layer cake with salted duck egg.

                    1. re: wolfe

                      what? there was no buffet when we went, but i'm sad about the band and dancing....
                      that dessert is sure pretty.