Who would have thought that some of the best Sichuanese cuisine I’ve ever tasted would be in Albany in the East Bay? San Francisco boasts some terrific Sichuanese food but I thought it was slim pickings this side of the Bay Bridge until I discovered China Village in downtown Albany, just north of Berkeley. When the restaurant reopened in 2013, they kept their numbingly spicy signature dishes on the menu. My taste buds thank them for it.
I probably visit China Village every month and the one dish I always order are the housemade water dumplings with spicy sauce. These rustic dumplings are super garlicy and doused in an oh-so-satisfying chili oil. Mmm, healthy.
Speaking of excess chili oil, I often order the spicy Sichuan boiled fish fillet as well. Tender white fish served over heaps of leeks, onions, cabbage, and garlic, all topped with an fiery chili sauce and heaps of Sichuan peppercorns. What’s not to love? Keep the white rice nearby for this one as you’ll need it to cool down.
China Village’s lamb with cumin is another standout dish. They make one of the best iterations of this regional specialty and the meat quality is wonderful as well.
The menu at China Village is long (and so are the wait times), but nearly everything I’ve ordered there has been stellar. Sure, it might not be the healthiest food, but with cuisine this spicy, it’s sort of an involuntary portion control type of situation. And thanks to China Village, now I can get my Sichuanese fix without having to cross the Bay Bridge.