Roll with it

Pub date September 26, 2012
WriterL.E. Leone
SectionCheap Eats

CHEAP EATS They said it would smell like a hamster cage. And it did, but we persevered. Our instructions were to go all the way to the back of the restaurant — past the cash register and past the kitchen, where there was another, much pleasanter room that did not smell like a hamster cage. And it didn’t.

It was a whole, secret, new favorite restaurant back there. With couches, plants, and wooden chairs with heart cutouts in the back. The floor was concreted river stones; small, pretty, shiny ones that I thoroughly enjoyed both walking on and looking at.

Hedgehog said it felt like a former Home and Garden Center, which was probably a pretty good guess. We sat at the table closest to the bookshelves, and she picked something out to read while we waited for our vermicelli.

My Milk Toof, by someone with a good sense of humor and a lot of time on her hands. She poses and photographs two kinda cute “baby teeth” named Ickle and Lardee into a comic strip. Now, I’m not a book reviewer, but Hedgehog was still reading their little tiny adventures, often out loud, even after our vermicelli bowls were served. So . . .




By Hedgehog

Since I was going to be watching Chicken Farmer third-string quarterbacking Sunday morning and be at Candlestick for the 49ers home opener Sunday afternoon, I really wanted to write about baseball.

Unfortunately, none of the baseball players I tweeted questions to got back to me. Which is a shame, because I really did want to know Brandon McCarthy’s favorite restaurant and Omar Vizquel’s views on same-sex marriage.

Even though I wasn’t going to say anything about football, I will say this: Chicken Farmer’s team was short a player and had no subs the entire game and they still won by one point! Of course, I didn’t know what the score was until we were walking back to the car, but even when I thought they had lost, I could tell it was a real good game.

Also: there are more assholes per square foot attending professional football games than there are at professional baseball games. Even at the $2 A’s games. But watching football live is enjoyable (excepting for all the other people doing it, too) and it was only partially humiliating to walk around the parking lot for three hours beforehand, stumping for donations for the Children’s Book Project with a Dr. Seuss hat on.

Moving on to more important matters: I am pleased to report that the Mission Playground reopened last weekend, all but the pool (which they say will be ready in December — perfect timing, since it’s an outdoor jobbie). I am not pleased to report that the food trucks promised to be in attendance in the adverts were gone by 2pm, when Earl Butter and I finally made our collective way over there. In addition to the kiddie areas, there is an artificial turf soccer field, two tennis courts, and a basketball court. So now you know where to find us.

There, or the Mission Rec Center, which has free racquetball and ping pong, and where there is a women’s boxing class I wish I could take being taught by an Olympic lady boxer. Boxerette? Boxer ladyperson.

Cheap Eats, cont.

Pugilista, I believe, is the word she was looking for.

Our vermicelli bowls, lemongrass chicken for her and grilled pork for me, were top-notch ‘uns, with plenty of crisp lettuce, carrots, red onion, basil, cilantro, and peanuts drenched in a red-peppery fish sauce dressing. Oh, and one sliver of not-hot jalapeno.

Oh, and the meat was delicious. Juicy and just perfect.

Mysteriously, we had also ordered an order of spring rolls. Maybe because we were too hungry when we first came in. But the thing is, the spring rolls are essentially the contents of the vermicelli bowls, only wrapped in rice paper. Equally excellent, but redundant.

They also have banh mi and noodle soups. Awesome food, nice people, and a really cool place, once you get past the hamster cage.


Mon. 9am-7pm; Tue.-Wed. 10am-7pm; Thu.-Sat. 9am-8pm; Sun. 9am-6pm

1309 Solano, Albany

(510) 525-7899


No alcohol