Great China

It’s hard to physically stop your jaw from dropping when the Peking duck from Great China lands in front of you. The crispy skin sparkles, and is fanned out over a mound of tender meat in the shape of a sun. And the pancakes for rolling it all up are see-through and so paper-thin, the duck shines front and center. This show-stopping duck is an indicator of what you’ll experience at this Berkeley spot—flawlessly executed Northern Chinese dishes served in a space that makes dinner feel like a special occasion. 

A meal at Great China is effortlessly celebratory. The modern dining room, which could pass for a minimalist art gallery (if you took out the big round tables), is usually packed with families telling jokes through mouthfuls of crunchy walnut prawns or Cal students treating their parents to dinner. Hearty, family-style meat and seafood entrées overflow on every table. The sticky spare ribs slide right off the bone. Steamed fish is light and flaky. And the slippery double skin commands 100% of your attention. There’s also an impressive wine list, which, at 26 pages long, is more in-depth than most Ikea instruction manuals. 

This spot also has bar seating for solo meals or dates, but our favorite way to dine here is with a big group, whether it’s for a birthday, a quadruple date, or just a random Wednesday night. Pack into a round table, order as much as will fit on the lazy Susan, and come back the next time you need to celebrate something.

Food Rundown

Great China review image

photo credit: Great China

Peking Roast Duck

In our Peking duck power rankings, Great China’s version is the reigning champion. The crackly skin isn’t too fatty, and the meat is always roasted to perfection. Ordering it is non-negotiable.

Great China review image

photo credit: Great China

Double Skin

Like a Yayoi Kusama exhibition exploding with polka dots, there’s a lot going on in this cold noodle dish, but it all works. Slippery mung bean noodles, crunchy cucumbers, and perfectly cooked shrimp and pork are mixed tableside. This dish is packed with textures, and has a hint of nose-clearing mustard.

Fish & Vegetable Dumplings

This dish nails every element of flawless fish dumplings. Thick, chewy skins and tender filling. Don’t overthink. Just order these and know you’ll be happy.