Last night, two friends and I took the long walk from Swing Space to Whitney Avenue in the pursuit of a fun dinner detox from our horrendous neurobiology midterm that we took earlier that day. With rats, cocaine, and saline control solutions out of our minds until the next lecture, I looked forward to climbing this Great Wall that I had heard about from one of my friends who went there to celebrate Chinese New Year. “It has legit Chinese food!” she said.
The Great Wall used to be some other store, but now it’s owned by Hong Kong Grocery, which is next door. HKG used to be this dinky little place, but has since remodeled and expanded–it’s got an upstairs (dried goods, snacks, cakes, pastries) and downstairs portion (fresh produce). It’s pretty nice, actually. I bought some frozen dumplings to celebrate the new year–they were juicy and fabulous.
As we approached the restaurant, it looked bright and vibrant. Flourescent lighting isn’t my favorite, but the restaurant was spacious. Right when we walked in, I was instantly hit with the garlicky, oniony smells of traditional Chinese restaurants everywhere. At the front they’ve got take-out combo options 2+rice and soup for 4.99 and 3+rice and soup for 5.99. Choices looked delicious: garlic eggplant, ma po tofu, pork chops, fried salt + pepper shrimp, various veggie dishes, chicken and beef., etc. They have plenty of booth seats that can seat up to 6-8 people per booth.
Dinner entrees were moderately priced, but expensive for student budgets (unless you’re splitting). They were $9-11 for meat dishes, and around $15 for seafood. They have a few vegetarian options, and those are about $9 as well. They have a pretty diverse menu and serve dim sum on the weekends. We chose to be safe, since we weren’t sure what kind of quality to expect. The waitress was really nice and helpful, especially when we told her it was our first time there. The three of us ordered kung pao chicken and Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce, a favorite dish of mine that my dad makes back at home. Each main entree comes with a bowl of rice free of charge. Two dishes for three people was definitely enough. Generally, I’d say the number of dishes you order should be one less than your party. Unless you’re starving.
As for taste and authenticity? Let me just say that this reminded me of Chinese restaurants at home, and I’m from California, where real Chinese food stopped being a fad and became a staple at least ten years ago. I was impressed by the unexpected deliciousness of The Great Wall. East Melange might be closed now, but in my opinion, The Great Wall is better than East Melange ever was. They’re bigger, friendlier, less kitschy, and tastier. If you’re more into Americanized Chinese food, which I also enjoy from time to time, they’ve got General Tso’s and sesame chicken and the like.
Hike to The Great Wall on Whitney. It’s totally worth it. Especially for lunch or take-out.
Where: 67 Whitney Ave., New Haven, CT
What: Szechuan or Cantonese (probably the kind of Chinese food you’ve already had) cuisine, dim sum on weekends
Price: cheap takeout, moderate-expensive dine-in
Hours: 9am-10pm 7 days a week