When then-Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan was asked during her confirmation hearing where she was on Christmas Day, she answered, “Like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant” — and garnered a big laugh from the audience.
Well, the well-worn cliché is getting new life this year, as two Queens residents are hosting the first-ever “Woks and Lox,” a Jewish-Asian Christmas celebration.
“There’s an undeniable connection between Jews and Asians, especially on Christmas,” said Jeff Orlick, who is co-producing the event with Veronica Chan, “and we felt we should celebrate that.”
“Growing up, my Christmases were exactly the cliché,” said Orlick. “Chinese food at Great Asian Kitchen next to Blockbuster and watching ‘A Christmas Story’ on TV.”
Chan’s family “never had a tree or really never did anything major,” and her parents often went back to Asia over the holidays leaving her and her sister alone. So Christmas Eve seemed like the perfect time to hold an event (woksandlox.com) for all the other “lonely people,” said Orlick
Of course, the food takes center stage, with a dinner celebrating the best the two cultures have to offer. The menu, created by Chef Chichi Wang, offers up Shiitake Ginger Matzah Ball Soup, Ginger Sriracha Wok-Fried Bagel Strips, Spring Roll Blintzes filled with Schmear and Chinese Jujubes and more. The bar where the event is being held — Queens Kickshaw — even created two special drinks for the occasion: a Golden Monkey Chocolate Egg Cream Bubble Tea and a Double Happy Five-Spice Hot-Mulled Manischewitz.
“[The bartender] added some regular wine as well,” said Chan, “because he actually thought it was too sweet” with just Manischewitz.
And while the food is the focus, the evening’s Jewish-Chinese theme will continue into the entertainment, with a bar mitzvah-style sign-in board, a Chinese auction, traditional Chinese wedding games plus “four older ladies who will be playing mah jongg,” said Orlick.
“They don’t want to have anything to do with teaching,” he said. “They just want to play, so we’re just going to have them come and play among our party.”
Orlick and Chan are not the only two getting in to the Jewish-Christmas spirit. The famed Mezze restaurant in Los Angeles is holding “A Jewish Christmas Eve.” Chef Micah Wexler will be serving a variety of Jewish deli classics, including chopped chicken livers and pastrami on rye.
At Michael Solomonov’s Zahav restaurant in Philadelphia, patrons can attend the second annual “A Very Jewish Christmas,” on Dec. 24, with the stereotypical Chinese food and a movie. ZAHAV is accepting movie recommendations via Twitter, but won’t release the name of choice ahead of time.
In Brooklyn, the Mile End deli is hosting a “Traditional Jewish Christmas — a.k.a. a Chinese Feast” on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. As the restaurant promoted it on its Twitter feed — “Perhaps you’ll meet a nice doctor.”