At Last: Great China Reopens Monday December 16th in Berkeley

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The exterior of the new Great China. Photo courtesy of James Yu.

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Great China’s incredible Peking duck. Photo from Facebook.

After many stops and starts and delays, it looks like ~GREAT CHINA~ will be opening Monday December 16th. It’s a long-awaited comeback, since Great China suffered a terrible fire two years ago. Well, the phoenix is rising from the ashes in new and much larger digs, with 150 seats and a new lounge area. A full liquor license should be coming soon too.

So, let’s talk about that lounge: there will be room for eight or so at the bar, plus there are three four-tops, which will also be good for solo diners for lunch during the day. Once full liquor kicks in later on, expect some well-executed classic cocktails, some refreshing tiki-esque drinks, and a couple of adventurous drinks as well.

Of course, any oenophile knows how utterly amazing second-generation owner James Yu’s wine cellar was at the previous location (let’s not talk about how much was lost in the fire, okay?). He said the restaurant unfortunately won’t be opening with a beer and wine license (it should hopefully activate within the month), so we’ll have to wait a little for some of his fab selections. But he said there were 20-30 cases of quality wines that were undamaged, with some reserve wines in the bunch, so expect some jaw-dropping wines by the glass when he can pour again. He said there will be some fantastic wines poured at cost to celebrate with those who enjoyed drinking Great China’s wines in the past. Cheers to that.

As for the staff, Yu said he managed to get most key folks back in the kitchen, with a few new players in the mix. He said a couple of his longtime servers are coming back, along with a couple they were grooming before the fire, plus they gained a former captain from Tommy Toy’s, who Yu said has been a great help in ramping up the level of service. Yu also mentioned his parents (who opened the original Great China) will be around to greet regulars and keep an eye on things.

Yu’s brother, Tai, is an architect and is behind the design of the new location. There is now a semi-private VIP table, enclosed on three sides with room for 14. The back area of the dining room has six large tables, and the plan is to partition it off with glass later in 2014 so it could be used as a private room for 50-60 guests.

The menu will remain the same, so I know we all can’t wait to have their superlative Peking duck and the inimitable double skin dish! Such great vegetables too. And lucky us, it’s still crab season, which means we can order the ginger-scallion crab! Hours will be daily 11:30am-3pm and 5pm-10pm. Once the bar is up and running, look for hours to extend, with plans for a late-night menu. Welcome back, Great China! 2190 Bancroft Way at Fulton, Berkeley, 510-843-7996.

UPDATE: Great China is opening Monday December 16th at 11:55am.