Thursday, March 08, 2007

Taste test: Green Village, home of Eel Crack

Debating between Hunan and Shanghai cuisine Sunday night, we decided to try the new location of Green Village in San Gabriel. It's in the old King's Palace spot and seems to be even more nicely decorated, with hanging lanterns and hostesses in cheongsams.
Wuxi eel, pictured, otherwise known as eel crack
The best part is that the prices don't really reflect the atmosphere -- they're still pretty reasonable, and our dinner ends up costing just $32 for three large and flavorful dishes.
A large poster at the entrance pictures some of the specialties, a helpful touch if you're not familiar with Shanghai dishes. The huge, junior high yearbook-sized menu also features (untranslated) Taiwain specialties and two pages of Szechwan dishes, but it's probably best to stick with the Shanghai region. We tried the shredded pork with yellow chives and bean curd, a simple eggplant and green bean stir-fry and the Wuxi crispy eel, which we had ordered at the old Green Village (don't know if it's the exact same ownership or not). This dish is like eel crack -- candy-sweet, fried to a crisp, you'd never know there was eel in that crunchy batter, but hard to stop eating. It's way too rich for two people though, best consumed as a snack for many more. Of course, it's folly to go to a Chinese restaurant as a couple, so we'll have to return soon with a larger group.The pork and eggplant dishes are both nicely-cooked dishes without any particularly stong flavors, but still completely satisfying -- the kind of simple dishes that shouldn't be hard to cook, and yet are completely unavailable anywhere west of the San Gabriel Valley. The specials poster, with its pork in a bamboo pipe and Wuxi spareribs, looks terribly intriguing, as does the pork with gluten puffs on the table next to us. Most tables seem to be ordering the deep-fried crab, which I think we had at the old King's Palace.
Green Village takes real Shanghai cooking at reasonable prices, and puts it in a pleasant, non-fluorescent atmosphere that won't scare your non-adventurous friends, plus there's beer and wine and they accept credit cards. Don't miss the fried croaker with liver moss -- sounds odd, but really just a tasty Chinese take on batter-coated fish.
Green Village Restaurant
250 W Valley Blvd.
San Gabriel
(626) 576-2228

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