Great Szechwan in Richmond/El Cerrito

Tried Great Szechwan in Pacific East Mall and it was good.  Great Szechwan (3288 Pierce Street, Richmond)  took over the space that was formerly Shanghai Gourmet, thank God, since that place had gone downhill the last year or so.  To be totally honest with you, Great Szechwan has to be good to compete with China Village in Albany, which is seriously kick-ass.  It does seem to be, from the meal we had.  In fact, a couple of the items we ordered were dead ringers for dishes served at China Village.  I’ll have to look into this.  If anyone knows of a connection, like a stolen chef, please let me know.  For example, we ordered the ‘bacon cut’ pork (read:  pork belly) with spicy garlic sauce appetizer at Great Szechwan.  It arrived in a ring pattern loaded with sauce just like the other guys serve it.  This is a great little starter but it’s not for everyone, since it is more or less cold, uncooked, unsmoked sliced bacon served with a heavy garlic-chili sauce with significant heat.  If you eat this with hot rice, like I do, the fat in the pork will soften and render a nice mouthful.  The dry cooked pork intestines came next.  Again with the deja vu.  Blisteringly hot and complex in flavor, but you have to appreciate the texture of innards to like the dish.  Great Szechwan is clearly very good and they have a large menu with offerings from other regions, so if you don’t like heat, you’ll be OK.  Take care with your order, though, since the staff do not speak much English and we did not get exactly what we wanted even though it seemed like they understood.  Use the numbers on the menu!  Matthew ordered the fish fillet with Szechwan wine sauce (#90) but received the minced fish with pine nuts (#90).  Not a big deal.  It might be a big deal if you ordered sweet and sour pork and received flaming stir-fried pork kidney, however.

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