Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Great China
One of my favorite restaurants in Berkeley (and the Bay Area for that matter) is the Great China on Shattuck and Kittredge. It's well known for its awesome Peking duck, but all other entrees are excellent too.

They offer a lot of specialty dishes that aren't as easy to find. Such as this "crunchy rice" soup.

I love rice made out of a traditional clay pot. Here they have taken the crispy, slightly burnt rice at the bottom and put it into a seafood soup. Interesting combo, though I think I still prefer their mussel soup.

Double skin

This is another one of their famous entrees. The double skin is made out of mung bean and are silky and chewy, kind of like jellyfish but to a lesser extent. They throw in all the ingredients on the side, including cucumber, shrimp, black fungus, scrambled egg, carrots, and toss it together with soy sauce and a tangy mustard sauce. The flavors kind of remind me of cold ramen, but the sauce is def a lot more spicy. Our server got mad at me for taking the photo since he was so eager to serve it and go to other tables.

Stir fried dungeness crab meat and egg whites

This is a pretty classic Shanghainese dish, except here they use real crab meat. Usually places just scramble the egg whites so that they resemble crab meat. Anyway, the crab flesh is fresh and sweet, with the accent of sour and spicy vinegar. They also place a raw yolk on top and then mix it. The texture is smooth and silky.

Glorious BUNS

Northern Chinese cuisine is great in that you don't eat rice, but these sweet buns. They are kind of like the bun in cha xiu baos, except less sweet. Fluffy and soft, you stick the crab meat in these and it makes for an awesome crab sandwich.

Now for the star of the show. The duck is really comparable to great places in Beijing and better than a lot of places in Hong Kong. They scrape off all the fat off of the skin, making for some crispy crisp skin to put in the thin wrappers (not pictured). I really hate fatty skin since it becomes too soggy and greasy. They also give you a hearty amount of scallions, which I love.

You can see that the meat is really lean. Generally, I feel that goose and duck in the US is much leaner than in Asia. The duck meat here is really tender and lean.

The Great China has really great food, but the service isn't something to rave about. Wait times can be pretty long, so make a reservation.