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Nov 24, 2012 07:04 PM

China Village substitute

Thanksgiving's over, time to start stressing re Christmas.

My extended Jewish family has spent every Christmas, having dinner @ China Village in Albany. We all love it; and it's a tradition.

But China Village, downed by fire, won't have re-opened by then.

Where to go instead? East Bay preference, but would drive for something comparable!

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  1. Does it have to be Sichuan, or just good Chinese? For Sichuan you'd probably want to head out to Contra Costa to Sichuan House in Walnut Creek or Sichuan Fortune House in Pleasant Hill.

    For just good, as you may know at least some of the staff from Great China is at Mandarin Garden until Great China reopens. Some of the favorite specialties from Great China are available there. My extended Jewish family tradition has been East Ocean in Alameda -- well done Cantonese/HK seafood plus Chinese-American standards. Reservations strongly recommended for Christmas, which they tell me is their busiest time,after Chinese New Years and Mother's/Father's Day.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Yeah, East Ocean is definitely crowd friendly with nice food, etc.
      However, The Ark on Park St. is quite tasty and we are loving the Cumin Lamb even more the the China Village version. Unfortunately, it's quite a small place, so seating a large party probably wouldn't work. But y'all might want to check it some other time. I'd advise to call ahead as they seem to keep occasional odd hours.

    2. if it's Sichuan food that particularly interests you, we have found Sichuan Fusion at the Pacific East mall (not particularly amerikanized, any more than China village was, more multi-regional fusion) an acceptable/good alternative. they have pretty good hand made noodles, actually better than those at China Village. for southern Chinese food with an emphasis on fresh seafood, Saigon Harbor down the street from that mall is above average as well. agree with Ms. Lafler, Alameda's East Ocean is another good place for southern Chinese.

      1. if cantonese food is ok, kwangtung and saigon seafood in richmond, and little hong kong in el cerrito are decent.
        sichuan fusion in pacific mall is available. (haven't try them yet).

        dalian (king yen clone) has many chinese foreign students eating there. some dishes americanized , some not.
        call first to see if any are open xmas.

        2 Replies
        1. re: shanghaikid

          What's good at Little Hong Kong? When I lived around there years back, I must have ordered from them 5-10 times, and never hit upon a particularly noteworthy dish.

          Sichuan Fusion shows a lot of promise and I'd love to hear more reports about their offerings. Their house special chicken was great, and, through the fog of the cold I had at the time, seemed to have fresher and more numbing sichuan peppercorns than I've elsewhere experienced. I was also keen on their knife shaved noodles ( 刀削面 dāo xiāo miàn).

          On the night I went, the servers spoke good English, so I'd feel comfortable venturing there with family.

          1. re: hyperbowler

            as with peony in oak's chinatown, didn't find anything noteworthy. most dishes done compentently and cheaply. (not peony.).

        2. z&y doesn't have quite the variety, but still is excellent sichuan

          1. They don't get much love here for some reason, but Happy Golden Bowl on San Pablo in El Cerrito has a lot of the same dishes as China Village, not *quite* as good, but I'm finding it a reasonable substitue so far, only one dud in several visits. Eager to return. Some of the same wait staff from CV work there and they tell me the chef is from Chengdu.

            I know, it's hard to take a place with this name seriously, but try it out! The ambience is not as nice as CV, but hey, we're going for the food!

            Note: I drive by CV from time to time...they are finally working inside, ripping things out and filling dumpsters. So at least there is finally some progress.

            Happy Golden Bowl
            10675 San Pablo Ave
            El Cerrito, CA 94530
            (510) 524-8772

            5 Replies
            1. re: sambamaster

              We've had a couple of good meals at Happy Golden Bowl, too.

                1. re: j mather

                  I'll 4th it-- I had a wonderful dinner there tonight.


                  I eat at Spices 3 a lot, largely because it's open late, and though I always enjoy the food, it lacks that extra element of subtlety and freshness that I've had at China Village. I got a whiff of that at Happy Golden Bowl tonight. I'd like to see how the chef deals with other dishes/techniques before saying it would be a good substitute for China Village, but each dish I had showed skill.

                  And to boot, better atmosphere than the other Sichuan places in the East Bay.

                  1. re: j mather

                    I wrote the second review on HGB and I think it's just as good as CV. I highly recommend the water boil fish which is actually a soup.

                    1. re: theSauce

                      Visited Happy Golden Bowl again tonight with my son, he thinks it is better than China Village, I think it is as good, or almost. Had the hand-shaved noodles..really decent, and something I don't think CV had on the menu. A spicy, numbing dish of sliced chicken which was marvelously "ma la" and quite delicious. A properly prepared dish of a-choy, with lots of garlic!

                      They have a sign on the door now which indicates they will be open on Christmas.

                      Oh, and there is a new specials board at the front door. Can't wait to try the Sichuan roasted lamb! Curious how that is done...