Pub date January 3, 2012
WriterL.E. Leone
SectionCheap Eats


CHEAP EATS Remember when we used to go out to Ocean Beach on New Years Eve nights and burn Christmas trees? I want to do that again. I think you can still have a bonfire, right — at the end of the park?

Maybe next year.

Over the last couple holiday seasons I have been gradually feeling my way back into the spirit of things — last year by visiting Joshua Tree and hacking a chicken’s head off, and this year via the good ol’ American tradition of watching football on TV and eating potato chips and geese.

That was Christmas Eve. I even got some presents for people!

At this rate, by 2013 I will be a good Christian. Until then though, and with due respect to Georgie Bundle’s avocado-smoked goose (out of this world), I think my favorite Christmas Day tradition is how the Jews do: Chinese food and a movie.

There were two shows we would have preferred, but for the occasion it seemed like a good idea to choose a chosen person’s: Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, which was by Christmas only still playing in Berkeley.

Now, I know it’s unpopular to like Woody Allen, but I can’t help it, I still do. He repeats himself, he’s predictable, he has a favorite type font, and all the other old problems … but: still fucking funny, and in this case even sweet, to boot.

But I’m not a movie reviewer.

Hi. My new favorite insecticide is Orange Guard®, because it works. And smells good. As part of my re-entrification into religiousness program, I have been practicing genocide. On ants, of which Oakland has several.

In fact, I’m pretty sure Woody Allen played an ant in an animated movie once, in case you’re looking for a tie-in.

Just so you know though, I’m not. I’m trying to find my way — via the scenic route, as usual — to Chinatown.


Christmas morning, late morning, before the movie. And as it happens there was a line of ants marching in under our cottage door while we were marching out, so I got the Orange Guard®, sprayed the franks and beans out of them, and then slipped on the mess my massacre made and almost broke my leg.

Restaurantwise, as usual Hedgehog had done her homework, and mine too. We went to Gum Kuo, because they open early and have Chinese donuts. It was the kind of place where we were the only whiteys in the place. The waitressperson seemed to want to ignore us, which gave us time to study the donuts before ordering them.

They are sliced crullerlike thangs that you’re supposed to dunk into rice porridge, or jook. But I’m honestly not very much interested in porridge, or jook. No. I’ll dip my own personal Chinese donuts in a steaming bowl of roast duck won ton noodle soup, thank you. And they were delicious, drowned suchwise, but unnecessary, because roast duck won ton noodle soup is a big enough breakfast for me any day of the week — Christmas included.

And that wasn’t even everything. We also had fried chicken wings, which were weak, and some barbecued pork and cilantro rice rolls, which were strong. Hedgehog wasn’t convinced, but I loved them. They’re chopped up pieces of pork with tons and tons of cilantro, wrapped in a gooey rice dough and drenched with something soy saucy.

Admittedly, the rice wrapper was overdone and gloopy, but the insides were so good I was almost thankful for the flaw. Otherwise, my head might have unscrewed and shot through the ceiling. Which would have been embarrassing.

The soup was not out of this world, but the duck part was excellent, and the won tons had discernible shrimps in them, and the noodles tasted homemade, and, hey, maybe it was a little out of this world.

In any case, we had a good time. By the time we left there was a line out the door of the place. And then it was like that after the movie, too. This leads me to believe that Hedgehog and me are ahead of our time.

Although: there are other possible interpretations.


Sun.-Thu. 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri. & Sat. 7:30 a.m.-midnight

388 9th St., Ste. 182, Oakl.

(510) 268-1288

Cash only

No alcohol