Featured Post

Ice Cream Chronicles - New Interactive Map

As you may have noticed, a new interactive Google Map containing all the location and links to all my Ice Cream Chronicles posts is now acce...

Ma La Nostalgia: China Village (Albany, CA)

This somewhat unremarkable exterior holds some of the best
Sichuan cuisine found in the San Francisco Bay Area
This visit to China Village was a return trip several years in the making for me.

China Village, which is located in what has become a dining destination area in Albany's Solano Avenue, has been one of the Bay Area's leading purveyors of Szechuan cuisine since its opening in 2002. My evolving tastes for thing spicy brought this place onto my radar, and my only regret was that I never could get into a group setting that would allow me to enjoy multiple dishes at one setting. Regardless, I very much enjoyed my dishes that I did order, from their 1000 Chili Pepper variations, to their Hot & Spicy Pork Shoulder and Dry-Cooked Beef, among others.

My last trip to China Village was back in the latter half of 2011, prior to my leaving for Ohio late that year and a fire in spring of 2012 which closed the restaurant down for repairs and renovations. The restaurant reopened to much public notice in the summer of 2013. My spouse and I have found Columbus doesn't have too much in the way of Szechuan restaurants (the most prominent being Fortune Chinese Restaurant on Olentangy River Road) so by the time we made this last journey back to California, it was time to pay them a visit.

While the exterior hadn't changed too much since my last visit, my bearings were thrown off by the interior for a few moments. This was definitely not what I had remembered from previous visits: the remodel had put an elegant chord throughout, from the artwork, the earth-toned hues, and dark wood inlays as well as the new addition of a bar with various adult beverage selections. The specials on the dry ink board all looked delicious, but also reminded me of how I wished I had a chance to visit here with a larger group of people in tow. As much as the Ma La Tofu Dungeness Crab sounded completely delectable (especially for my spouse, who is a crab fiend), the $40 price tag for the dish was something we simply couldn't afford on this visit. Perhaps next time...

China Village's menu was as diverse as ever, but the numerous
interior changes really caught my attention on this visit
China Village's menu still proved to be as diverse as ever, and it took a lot of time for us to wend through it. This, plus the fact that it was the end of a long day, led us to some relatively "safe" selections as the Szechuan Thin Sliced Lamb Hot Pot ($15.95) and the Shredded Pork with Jalapeno Chili Pepper ($11.95.)

Before our mains came out, we started off with a tasty Pancake Wrapped Five Spice Beef appetizer ($7.95) as well as a pleasant mini-plate of kimchi to munch on. This waiting time allowed me personally to soak in how much the interior had changed since I had last been there.

Szechuan Sliced Lamb Hot Pot and Shredded Pork with Jalapeno dishes
The hot pot was the highlight of the meal, a melding of tender lamb, vegetables, noodles with a nicely spicy broth. My spouse suspected that they took a look at us and toned down the potential kick a bit, noting that she's had more potent versions at the Red Chili Asian Kitchen near The Ohio State University.

Whether China Village did tone down the kick, or if this was merely a natural evolution of our more robust spice-handling capabilities (as exampled by this previous post) she agreed that this was a great introduction (and, for me, a reconfirmation) to what has remained an East Bay standout for many diners and Szechuan cuisine aficionados.

China Village Szechuan Restaurant
1335 Solano Ave
Albany, California
(510) 525-2285
Facebook     Twitter     Website

China Village on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Post a Comment