Americans often think about Chinese food in sweeping generalities, assuming that every restaurant will serve up the same tried-and-true Americanized classics (General Tso's Chicken anyone?) — or else they expect dim sum or some other Cantonese fare. Of course, Chinese cuisine is as diverse and as idiosyncratically regionalized as American cuisine. And, fortunately, the East Bay is home to restaurants like China Village, whose boldly flavored Szechuan specialties will blow your previous conceptions about Chinese food out of the water. Szechuan cuisine is known for being spicy, and while there is plenty of heat to be found here, there's nuance, too — and even diners with little tolerance for spice can have a great meal. Favorites include the Twice-Cooked Pork — thinly sliced pork belly that's delightfully toothsome and smoky — and the Spicy Charred Stir-fried Cabbage, which is a marvel of caramelization that'll forever change the way you think of the humble cabbage. And if you're lucky enough to dine at China Village during Dungeness season, make sure you order the Ma-Po Tofu Whole Crab, whose marriage of a savory-spicy sauce with the unctuousness of crab roe might make it simultaneously the best crab dish and the best tofu dish that you've ever eaten.
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