Great China Restaurant
2115 Kittredge St
Berkeley, CA 94704 USA
I think this place may serve the best "typical" Chinese food I've ever had. My only trip off the continent was to Europe, so scale expectations appropriately.
I've been to Great China a few times (somewhat long ago) with large groups and adventurous taste buds. We told them just to bring good, full-strength food. In each of these groups, there were native speakers (Mandarin?). Bring full-strength food they did. I don't think everything was on the menu, but it was all incredible. Everyone in these rather picky and argumentative groups loved the food and the service. (Large group "family style" means large tips…)
I made a point to return on this last visit. What I had hardly qualifies as Chinese… I opened the menu (already feeling odd ordering off the menu) and my eyes fell on "blah blah fresh, in-season Dungeness crab blah blah." For those of you who don't know the orgasmic joy of fresh, in-season Dungeness in the Bay Area, you might mis-interpret the "blah blah" part. If you know your treasure of a crab, well, you know the rest just doesn't matter. You tend not even to see it… I vaguely remember it being a ginger-scallion sauce, but you don't want to mess with the flavor of Dungeness much. They didn't. The crab (one entire crab, w00t!) was pre-cracked, even. Chopsticks are quite handy for poking out meat hiding in some of the smaller segments. And the staff kept me equipped with napkins as I devoured it and also kept my tea pot and water glass full.
I have seen the staff here be "rude" to customers. The customers I've seen deserved it; the Angry Chef in Atlanta likely would have posted withering commentary… One couple demanded to be seated at a table for four… because they wouldn't fit physically at a table for two. Ahem. And then they loudly proclaimed "who would go for Chinese food and buy good wine?" before ordering the few Americanized items on the menu. Yeah, the staff may have been a little stiff towards these nitwits.