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Gum Kuo (Oakland): Good takeout, bad kitchen

Joel Teller | Mar 12, 200510:42 AM

I was all set to love Gum Kuo, a possible replacement for the closed Gold Medal.

It has the BBQ items dripping in the window, including miscellaneous innards of a menagerie.
The service is brisk, efficient, friendly. The staff all wear a cute green Gum Kuo T-shirt. Of course we were the only non-Chinese in the place, and it has the grungy look of an "authentic" place.

Also the parking is convenient. The garage downstairs charges only $1 per hour, and is almost empty in the evenings. It's a good setup for handicapped folks.

Plates are MelMac. Haven't seen that in a while. Tea comes in a plastic glass. Corkage is free -- they provide teacups for the wine.

As the previous poster mentioned (link below) they have freshly-made rice rolls, and every table orders them. The first time we went they were excellent, but last night's version was too thick and gooey. Excellent sauce, though.

Absolute raves on the soy-sauce chicken and roast duck. Both are superb, well-flavored, moist. Also the spiced intestine was good (this refers to small intestine; the large intestine is listed as "bung guts"). We saw many people getting takeout.

But the kitchen items were indifferent. The pea vines were tasty but greasy. The crispy chow mein was not very crispy, and in any case was covered with a thin sauce that made everything soggy. The eggplant was good, also the claypot (the "GumKuo clay pot") was OK.

Their "specialty" is a clay-pot rice, on the Chinese meny only. It's $10 for a medium size version (Utopia Cafe has a smaller version for about $6 as I recall, the Gold Medal had a mammoth version for $15). In this dish, the raw rice is placed in a claypot, then water is added, and marinated chicken and various other items are placed on top (we had the mushroom version). The juices from the chicken seep down into the rice, the chicken steams, the rice gets a nice crust on the bottom. It takes 20 minutes to cook. Except in this version there was little crust, and the chicken was not very well-flavored.

So the search goes on. We might try Sun Hong Kong again (the one on 8th Street in Oakland).

Gum Kuo
388 9th St (inside the mall, below Peony)


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