Sichuan Style is the new name of King Tsin (Berkeley)

King Tsin was the first “Northern Chinese” restaurant in Berkeley – I recall going there in 1968. About a year ago, the venerable restaurant changed ownership. The new owners were a chef and head waiter originally from China Village, who had moved to Ancient Szechwan in El Cerrito and were now back in Berkeley just up the street from CV.
But they (unwisely) kept the King Tsin name, annoying some folks who liked the previous (unimaginative) menu and confusing those of us who like the C Village style. In any case their menu is a clone of CV and we’ve had some very nice dinners there – the latest was last night. So the name has now been changed. I don’t know the significance of the “Style” part of the name; we also enjoy a restaurant named Chengdu Style, on Bancroft across from UC.

Sichuan Style Restaurant | (510) 525-9890
1699 Solano Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94707

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Around the same era (definitely before 1971, when I moved back to SF) there was a Sichuan-style restaurant on Solano Avenue in either Berkeley or Albany named O Mei or some such variant on “Emei.” I recall it was the first time I ever saw “Strange Taste Chicken” on a menu and couldn’t resist ordering it.

Do you recall it?

yes I recall O Mei.
Sichuan Style calls the dish “Mouth Watering Chicken”.
I live in South Berkeley so going to Solano Avenue is a rare excursion. I may have gone to O Mei once.

Thanks for the tip! Didn’t know they’d changed the name.

I recall it and probably ate there a couple of times but memory right now doesn’t give me that.

I think guai wei ji (怪味鸡) and kou shui ji (口水鸡) are actually two different dishes, though a restaurant is likely to serve one or the other, but not both.

You and I seem to be the only two people in the Bay Area who remember O Mei in Berkeley/Albany. There is an O’Mei in Santa Cruz, but when I called them no one there seemed to know if there was any connection.

OT, but do you also remember the Pot Luck on San Pablo in Berkeley? I think of it as one of the real roots of California Cuisine.

I recall the food at O Mei as being too spicy for me. That was then, this is now.
As a youth I lived in NYC and in 1964 went to a place in Manhattan called (I think) Mandarin House; I ordered Twice Cooked Pork and thought I was going to die.

I recall the Pot Luck on the West side of San Pablo, south of Dwight Way; now it is a bar called Missouri Lounge . I believe Narsai David was involved as chef or owner. I think the year was 1973. Food was great; wine list spectacular. I ordered a half-bottle of a 1945 Sauternes for $10 – the young lady I was with shared that birth year.

The Pot Luck was founded in 1962 by Hank Rubin, who later became a wine writer for the Chronicle. I believe Narsai David started out there as a busboy, and ended up owning the place before it closed. I ate there a few times in 1968-70 with a young lady born in 1946 (who happened to be my wife at the time). We drank the house wines.

There was a article in Gastronomica about The Pot Luck a few years back which used to be free to read but now requires a suscription. I did find this preview:


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FWIW I also remember O Mei on Solano Ave. It was still going in the mid to late 70’s, maybe later.

I suspect O’Mei is sort of a generic name. There was once one in Los Angeles and I ran into another in Toronto.

Also, there is/was one in Santa Cruz, and once in Sacramento.

The distinction for the one in Berkeley was its vintage. I don’t know when it opened, but it was pre-Nixon China visit. I’m curious to know which came first, King Tsin or O Mei in Berkeley.

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