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Boer Visits China Village; Roth Feasts at Shanghai Dumpling King

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China Village's modest exterior. [Photo: John Martinez Pavliga/Flickr]
After dropping 3.5 stars on Michael Mina this weekend, Bauer skipped his weekday review, but a telltale tweet shows that a Bauer review of The Cavalier isn't too far off. Over in the East Bay, Bauer's compatriot Nicholas Boer took a spin at Albany's newly reopened China Village, where a "bland" exterior belies the newly "sleek and airy" space and "contemporary" bar. "You simply cannot beat this place" when it comes to lunch, where specials are priced at $7.95, including "the best sweet-and-sour pork" Boer knows. Watch out, though for the heat of China Village's dishes: it "sneaks up on you like a feral cat." The 1,000 pepper fish fillet in chicken broth was "wonderful," with noodles "silky as the fish" and gingery broth. "Rich with fat and silkily textured," the pork shoulder was another universal favorite. Some dishes, like the clay pot duck, disappointed, but this spot's spicy Sichuan fare is a "rite of passage." 2.5 stars. [Chron]

Elsewhere, dumpling enthusiast Anna Roth visited two Shanghai Dumpling King locations, where the soup-filled pork dumplings "burst like savory Gushers when you bite into them." The original Richmond location has a remodeled kitchen and their dumplings "more than lived up to their reputation," with pliable wrappers "puckered at the top like some new species of mollusk," "a good amount of lightly seasoned broth" and "sweet pork that harmonized beautifully with the gingery black vinegar dipping sauce." At the new Sunnyside location Roth's dumplings were "more on the tough side, with not as much soup," but still "delivered on flavor." The rest of the Dumpling King's menu contains "unremarkable Chinese-American fare" that's "certainly better than a place like Panda Express." Come for the dumplings, says Roth, and stay for the dumplings. "Too many dumplings is always a mistake worth repeating." [SF Weekly]

Kauffman stopped in at Range, where a kitchen transition from chef-owner Phil West to Rachel Sillcocks "appears seamless." Expect "clean, vegetable-focused, impeccably balanced" flavors from Sillcock's "finely detailed" food, like the "ethereal" charred eggplant and "sweet and vegetal" melon-cucumber salad. It may be an oldie, but it's a goodie, says Kauffman, who gives Range his stamp of excellence. "It's like an Italian shoe: The closer you look, the more you realize how well it's made." [Tasting Table]

Luke Tsai meditated on the appeals for the Generic Deli, that hole-in-the-wall where cost trumps caché. At Anula's Cafe in downtown Oakland, however, "there is more than meets the eye." Anula Edirisinche is Sri Lankan and her husband is Jamaican, influences which color her "homey, comforting" food. Best among daily hot specials is Tuesday's jerk chicken, with drumsticks "slow-cooked until the meat was so tender it barely hung onto the bone," Caribbean-style peas and rice and steamed kale, green beans, and mango chutney. The chicken is "a hearty and healthful meal, tough to top among inexpensive downtown lunch options." The roasted eggplant, garlicky basil pesto and pepper jack cheese on Dutch crunch "was soft and oozy"—the best vegetarian sandwich Tsai's had in months. And while the food is good, Tsai sees something more: "What sets the cafe apart from the backdrop of Generic Delis is a warm, inviting atmosphere that makes you feel like you're hanging out in a beloved aunt's kitchen." [EBX]

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842 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 Visit Website

China Village

1335 Solano Ave., Albany, CA