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Best Chinese (Sichuan) San Francisco 2004 - China Village

China Village

China Village

1335 Solano

Albany, CA 94706


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Get the three-page, densely printed menu listing the spicy Sichuan dishes (happily, in English) at this brightly lit, sparkling white restaurant on Albany's restaurant row, rather than the generic Chinese laminated menu, and you'll be rewarded with some of the spiciest, hottest, best-tasting food imaginable. You must order the fat, oily green onion cakes and crisp yet chewy sesame flat bread that the Sichuanese prefer to rice (we order rice, too, as a cooling foil for the fiery dishes). We love the cold slivered ponpon chicken mixed with bean sprouts; the forcemeat-stuffed dumplings swimming in homemade anise-perfumed sauce; the Sichuan-style spicy boiled beef; the crunchy batons of cucumber in garlic sauce; the long, tender, delicate dry-cooked green beans; and a homey plate something like boiled beef and cabbage -- if your Irish grandmother had used chile oil instead of water to boil it in.

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