Great China, Berkeley

Great China
2190 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 94704

Great China is well known and well regarded for its Peking Duck. Given that my cousin loves Peking Duck, it was a no brainer to celebrate his graduation from UC Berkeley at Great China.

We reserved a table of 9 well ahead of time so we didn’t have to wait the arduous hours long waits that usually befall walk in diners. Once seated we promptly looked at the various options at the menu as well as searching favorites of other diners. In the end we ordered 3 Peking ducks and these other dishes:

  • Double Skin (兩張皮) – This dish of mung bean noodles mixed with shrimp, sea cucumbers, pork, assorted vegetables, hoisin sauce, and Chinese mustard was pretty good. The saltiness of the sauce matched well with the heat of the mustard creating a very nice appetizer to start off the meal.
Peking Duck at Great China

Peking Duck at Great China

  • Peking Duck (北京片皮鴨) – Without a doubt, this was the best Peking Duck I have ever had. Unlike most Cantonese seafood palaces who seem to just cook crispier versions of roast duck, Great China roasts their duck more in like with how they do it in Beijing. This process leaves super crispy skin and moist meat after the fat has rendered in the cooking process. The thin pancakes were great as well and goes much better with this dish than the mantou buns founds in Cantonese restaurants . We finished at least 2.5 dishes of the duck (which doesn’t come cheap at $37.95 per order).
  • Mongolian Beef (蒙古牛肉) – The Mongolian Beef was solid, if not too memorable. I loved that this version wasn’t overly sauced and sweet, unlike other restaurants, but it was also a fairly simple, if decently well made, dish of beef, sauce, and onions.
Great China 3

Mei Cai Ko Ro at Great China

  • Mei Cai Ko Ro (梅菜扣肉) – I loved Great China’s version of this classic pork belly dish. While other restaurants use meat that is too heavy on the fat, I feel like Great China had the meat cut with a perfect fat to meat ratio. The meat was tender as well and the dish was balanced by the decent amount of preserved vegetables in the dish.

Walnut Prawns at Great China – to be avoided

  • Walnut Prawns (核桃蝦) – On the other hand, the Walnut Prawns leave much to be desired. There is way too much batter on the shrimp and the sauce is a neon yellow gloopy mess that is too sweet for its own good. It was the only dish that was barely touched by the whole table.
  • Sauteed Snow Pea Leaves (炒大豆苗) – The snow pea leaves, however, were beautifully stir fried with garlic. I’m a big fan of snow pea leaves and I loved how the kitchen made sure that the leaves were cooked just right with the perfect amount of garlic.

In the end I was certainly not disappointed by the much hyped Peking Duck. In fact, my grandfather’s wife from Mainland China even said it was very good and very authentic. I can see how this one dish creates hours long waits every evening. In fact, the duck was so good I took a few duck carcasses back home with me to create some delicious broth.



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