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Old 03-07-2011, 03:52 AM   #361
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Hi Princess, still loving your TR , Scoma looks like a definite inclusion on our SF trip. I have to admit that is has been at least 15 years since our last SF or DLR trip, and I am so enjoying all your reviews and pics. We were thinking about the Winchester House but have now decided against it, based on your reviews and the distance we would have to travel. Thank you for all your insights. Your pics are amazing!
Thanks for sticking around!
I hope that you do think about the WMH at some stage....I did find it interesting and if it weren't for the no photo thing, it would have been so totally worth it for me. I just wouldn't be rushing back there in a hurry.

Depending on your timetable and if you were driving up this way, check out Felton and the Roaring Camp Railway. The railway takes you from Felton to Santa Cruz Boardwalk. It's a great day for kids.

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Interesting to hear someone Asian describe this. Western foods are more commonly named by their ingredients or creator, whereas is seems that asian foods are more named for the cooking process.
I'm feeling a bit alarmed by this. I think you might be better off listening to someone who is more Asian than me. I only claim to be able to speak Kitchen Cantonese....with just about enough language skills to order food and drink!


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Old 03-07-2011, 04:01 AM   #362
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I'm feeling a bit alarmed by this. I think you might be better off listening to someone who is more Asian than me. I only claim to be able to speak Kitchen Cantonese....with just about enough language skills to order food and drink!



My friend who came from Mainland China when she was 6 speaks "conversational Cantonese" [They're from the south hence Cantonese]. Enough to speak to her parents. Who don't speak enough english to have a proper conversation with me
But can't write to save herself. She's the shame of the family

Your description is similar to those I hear though from them.
Looks interesting. So where does it originate from? I think I've seen or even eaten something like the eggy one. But I'm mainly a noodle soup and Aussie chinese restaurant person
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Old 03-07-2011, 04:01 AM   #363
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Day 9 - NorCal

Getting to the Downtown in Time

One of the many things I like about the hotel we were calling home is that they offer a hot buffet breakfast as part of the room tariff. The hot food selection usually includes an egg option, protein of some kind (bacon, sausage or meat pattie), a sweet offering (pancakes, waffles, crepes) and vegetable (invariably potato and/or tomato).

They also offer the usual pastries, breads, fruit, cereal, oatmeal, juice and coffee.

We never go hungry at breakfast and there is a broad enough selection that even DS doesn’t complain about the choice.

This morning was no different; except that after the late finish of DH’s group meeting yesterday, they had decided that an earlier start was in order. It was a pretty empty breakfast room this morning. So, here’s an example of the type of breakfast I’ve been eating lately.




I had managed to speak to my cousin during the course of the week and we had arranged to catch up today. So, we were headed back to the downtown area again for another day.

DS was inclined to dawdling this morning and I figured I needed to push him hard to catch the earlier train. No, I wasn’t screaming at him (much) this morning……screeching was more like it.


For anyone who is thinking about whether to catch a Caltrain or not, this is what the trains look like from the inside. I love this mode of travel and when you have carriages that are maintained to a reasonable level of cleanliness, it makes it all the more pleasurable.




We got into the 4th and King Streets station in good time; and this time, I did not need to confer with one of the station masters. I knew that either the No 30 or the 45 would get me to my destination…..Chinatown.

For the record, the No 45 ends up at Fisherman’s Wharf; but it takes about twice as long to get to compared to the 47, which I caught yesterday. And if anyone is interested to go shopping down Chestnut and/or Union Streets, the No 30 will go down Chestnut. Union is parallel to Chestnut, one block away.

The No 30 arrived first, so we got on it. We got on the seats towards the back of the bus…




Trust me! On a Chinatown bus, by the time you get to Folsom Street, some 4 or 5 blocks away, you’ll be glad that you moved all the way down to the back for a seat.
The ones up the front are designated for the elderly or disabled passengers….and you HAVE to give them up.

As we headed up 3rd Street and got to Folsom, it was evident that the bus was CRAWLING along. There was some major traffic disruption ahead….we inched on ahead and finally got to Mission. 4 lanes of traffic all trying to head in different directions EXCEPT straight ahead at the same time!

Yup, all traffic was being diverted either to the right or left of Mission. Our bus kept inching on up along 3rd Street and it suddenly become evident why bumper to bumper and honk thumping was in vogue this morning.

There was an emergency in play here. Turns out an earlier bus had ripped down one of the powerlines….




…. and there were two wires in the middle of the road.




I don’t know if the wires were still live. Chances were that the power to those lines had been switched off; and I didn’t feel like finding out for sure either way.

I did know how it felt though….I felt like ripping someone’s head off. This little diversion had cost us over an hour!
Poor DS...he got screeched at for no reason.


Whilst all other traffic was being diverted, the buses were being let through. I guess when your power source is from the overhead cables, you can’t just turn the bus in any old direction. We finally made it past this site and kept going down towards Stockton.

(Continued in Next Post)
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Old 03-07-2011, 04:11 AM   #364
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(Continued from Previous Post)


Chinatown morning


If you look up the San Francisco Chinatown, all directions lead to Grant Avenue. It is written up as the largest Chinatown outside of Asia and the oldest one in North America. Grant Avenue is where most of the tourists go to see Chinatown.

If you get on a Chinatown bus, these buses go down Stockton Street. Stockton Street is the other major street for Chinatown. It is where the Chinese community goes to shop and buy their Chinese groceries. Once you head under the Stockton tunnel at Union Square, you’re in a different world.

Chinatown buses are ALWAYS packed at any time of the morning. So, getting off the bus is a tricky business. I waited for the majority of the crowd to jump off at Clay and we got off at Jackson/Pacific.

Every time I go down Stockton, it is no different. There are seemingly boxes and boxes of produce that are stacked on the sidewalk, taking up precious walking real estate, and making it seem like a maze to walk through. Add a couple of hundred thousand people to the mix; and it becomes a recipe for hanging on to your bags and children!

Today ….well….today just seemed like there was an absolute sea of people. They, and the boxes, were just everywhere! I grabbed hold of DS and my camera bag for dear life.

We tried to walk forwards and it was like trying to walk against the tide.
We tried to walk backwards and it was like trying to walk against the tide.
I hated to think what it was like towards Clay Street!

The reason for the extra activity was simple. We were in Chinatown in the lead-up to Chinese New Year. Everyone was frantic to stock up and to make sure that they had appropriate items to give as gifts. Either that or Thursday was the day that social security payments were made, like it is in Oz.

With all the bustle and activity, I didn’t get any pictures of Stockton. I was too scared that if I let go of DS, we would not be able to find each other again. It’s a pity – it would have made for a great streetscape picture.

Out of desperation, I headed out into the street and we managed to make some progress. It seemed a lot easier to dodge the cars and buses; than people and boxes. And we took the only option available to us – head down a cross street towards Grant.

For me, Grant is for tourist shopping and Stockton is for local shopping. I always like to experience the real Chinatown, which in my opinion, lies between Grant Avenue and Stockton Street.





We saw shops with red firecrackers hanging in preparation for Chinese New Year.




I ducked in one of these shops to get some red packets, or ang pows, for my own Chinese New Year celebrations in Melbourne. The cost of the red packets was on par with what we pay in Melbourne; but the variety was so much better.


I also managed to get a couple of shots of the fruit on sale down on the cross street.







And nobody ask me for a translation....it all seems like Greek to me!


DS was fascinated by this shop….I had to explain the concept of Alternative Medicine to him.




And the thought of eating or swallowing Traditional Chinese medicine brought on some rumblings…..


Cheap Eats #1

One of the things that tourists like to experience in any Chinatown is to go eat Dim Sum or Yum Cha. Chinatown San Francisco is no different….and particularly around Grant Avenue, there are a very few Dim Sum restaurants that cater to the tourist and come with a seemingly moderate to high bill. Most tourists would be happy to pay about $10 - $15 per head (or more) for Dim Sum.

Many years ago (before DS was born and on another one of those trips with DH), I had gotten myself lost in the Chinatown between Grant and Stockton. I was walking from Union Square to Columbus; so as long as I headed in that direction, it didn’t matter where I was. I never really figured out where I had gotten to, as I knew that if I took a left or a right that I would hit either of the two landmark streets. But I remembered that I stopped somewhere to get some very tasty and cheap Dim Sum. And on subsequent trips back, I never quite found the street again.

Well….I worked it out today. It was Pacific Street. As you are heading from Stockton towards Grant, there is a little hole in the wall on the left hand side. If you are ever there, go here. This was the place that I found all those years ago.

This time, I decided to try a larger hole in the wall, on the right side.




We ordered 2 Custard buns…




…one of the Shrimp Rice Noodles (Har Fun), 2 shrimp dumplings (Har Gows)….



[Note – the Prawn Rice Noodles serving was more than that shown on this plate. DS and I both hoed into it a little before I remembered to pull the camera out.]

…and bought a bottle of water. I also got some Chinese tea.

I would have bought some Pork dumplings (Shui Mai) as well; but they weren’t ready.

The bill? It came to a little over $6. Yes….$6 for the two of us! It was cheaper than a Golden Arches Meal Deal!!

The Custard buns were adequate; but the ones we had the other night were far superior. But the Har Fun and the Har Gows were wonderful. The shrimp in both were lovely and fresh….and they were perfectly cooked to that crystal crunch consistency. Delicious!

I remember that the first hole in the wall had better custard buns, hence the recommendation.

And for anyone who prefers something a little bit more up market than a hole in the wall, take a look at the All You Can Eat across the street.




I haven’t eaten here; so I cannot vouch for the food. Somewhere else to try…next time.



Chinatown Alley

After we had stretched our bellies, I decided it was time to show what I consider to be the real Chinatown to my DS.

I took him down a couple of alleyways.




In the (g)olden days, the Chinatown alleys were known for gambling and brothel houses. Today, they offered a fascinating insight for my DS.

We were heading for a particular place I had in mind….




Yes, well spotted!




The Fortune Cookie Factory is located in Ross Alley, the oldest of all San Francisco alleys. Have a look at the handwritten sign…




I don’t know if I was supposed to pay 50 cents per picture! But after I paid up, I took one and a few.





There were 3 machines and 3 ladies working when we visited.

The lady in the front sure moved a LOT quicker than the others at the back. I did get a chance to speak to her….turns out she was filling in for the day. The regular worker was off sick and I think she is an auntie of the owner.


The batter is dropped into each of those round moulds and the whole thing moves around. The moulds eventually hit some blue gas flames and get cooked. They keep going round and the workers pull the cooked fortune cookie off the moulds…




They then either put a fortune inside each cookie, and fold it over with the help of the metal prong here to make a fortune cookie, or; they keep the cookie as is and place it in the container.




The round flat cookies are bagged up and sold to the school children that visit here on their excursions. Apparently it is much easier to eat and the school kids don’t care much for the pieces of fortune paper inside.

DS was completely taken with the Fortune Cooking manufacturing process.




See the guy on the left of and behindDS? Well, he was the manager for the day.


He was completely taken with DS…





DS got to try pulling the cookies off the moulds. It sure isn’t as easy as the workers make it out to be!





We left with a couple of free samples; not just of the round cookies but also with fortune cookies.

There was a not so fascinating thread on the Dis Community Board not so long ago about how much you thought a writer of Fortune Cookies should earn. Yes, like 85% of the threads on the CB, you know it is a mistake to open the thread to read but you can't help yourself; and I did have this post in mind. There was a not so great debate about how the fortunes are all c%$p and that the writers probably don’t earn so much money.


Have a look at MY fortune….




Seems like the writer of my fortune should be paid his or her weight in round cookies. Sure looks like they got it right to me!


Up Next – Chinatown afternoon!


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Old 03-07-2011, 10:59 AM   #365
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This is interesting I have never seen a fortune cookie made. You know all the secret places in china town. How hard was it to pull the cookies out of those tins? Sorry your bus ride was not very pleasant. Some of the food looks so good doubt I will never try it DH is not very adventerous in meals. Stricktly meat and potatos. What is Dim Sum? Is just a name or is it for a peticular food? Its ok to laugh I dont know much about those things. Oh dont hang up your bacon yet. There is alot of begging going on some place else. The pics are awesome. We get to see you start your day. Buy the way did you pay for your pics in the fortune cookie shop? Cant wait to read more. Have a great day at work.
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Old 03-07-2011, 11:35 AM   #366
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I love Chinatown and I love love Dim Sum! thanks for the pictures!
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Old 03-07-2011, 03:47 PM   #367
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Nice update. I have never seen fortune cookies being made, How facinating .

I am glad that you had a nice day in Chinatown. We will go when we are there. How different is it from Chinatown in Sydney. I assume that it is much larger.
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Old 03-07-2011, 08:24 PM   #368
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Love the fortune cookie making.

So is Dim Sum the same as Yum Cha?
I sort of think of Dim Sum as a specific food. A medium ball wrapped in a thin 'paper' like wrapping. They are either fried or steamed. The size of a bun sort of.
Now that is also sort of a dumpling though...but I think of a dumpling more as a small piece of meat or shrimp wrapped with crimped edge.

Thanks
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Old 03-08-2011, 01:26 AM   #369
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I can't believe how you got behind the scenes! I want to go to Chinatown with YOU! That's so cool, they won't give us round eyes such a warm welcome. We used to go to all kinds of places in Chinatown when I was in HS and we would get pork buns and all sorts of stuff, I don't know how many restaurants we tried, but we loved them all. I wonder how many were actually authentic. I have never had Dim Sum, but have always wanted to!
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Old 03-08-2011, 05:33 AM   #370
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Originally Posted by queenie82 View Post
I have to ask my asian friends if they can get any at the asian supermarket. One gets lovely vegetarian ones and red bean ones. [Yes I am a caucasian girl who likes red bean]
I am addicted to Pork buns too...love the bun part almost more than the pork.
Queenie, you live near a suburb called Eastwood!!! You can find most things Asian there. The Asian marts there stock a phenomenal range of things, probably only put to shame by those in Cabramatta.

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Love the fortune cookie making.

So is Dim Sum the same as Yum Cha?
I sort of think of Dim Sum as a specific food. A medium ball wrapped in a thin 'paper' like wrapping. They are either fried or steamed. The size of a bun sort of.
Now that is also sort of a dumpling though...but I think of a dumpling more as a small piece of meat or shrimp wrapped with crimped edge.

Thanks
Dim sum are the little dishes of food. Yum cha means tea drinking and is the description of the meal itself as traditionally you eat the dim sum with tea.
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Old 03-08-2011, 05:35 AM   #371
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Originally Posted by usnuzuloose View Post
This is interesting I have never seen a fortune cookie made. You know all the secret places in china town. How hard was it to pull the cookies out of those tins? Sorry your bus ride was not very pleasant. Some of the food looks so good doubt I will never try it DH is not very adventerous in meals. Stricktly meat and potatos. What is Dim Sum? Is just a name or is it for a peticular food? Its ok to laugh I dont know much about those things. Oh dont hang up your bacon yet. There is alot of begging going on some place else. The pics are awesome. We get to see you start your day. Buy the way did you pay for your pics in the fortune cookie shop? Cant wait to read more. Have a great day at work.
The literal translation of Dim Sum means "Little Heart". It is the term used to represent the little parcels of food that get served. Think of it as Chinese Tapas.

I only paid 50 cents for the set of photographs...given what I ended up with, I figured it was a fair enough trade.

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I love Chinatown and I love love Dim Sum! thanks for the pictures!
Me too! Me too! I love Dim Sum and Chinatown too. Maybe next time we can do a Dismeet there....

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Originally Posted by QuirkyButterfly View Post
Nice update. I have never seen fortune cookies being made, How facinating .

I am glad that you had a nice day in Chinatown. We will go when we are there. How different is it from Chinatown in Sydney. I assume that it is much larger.
Chinatown in San Francisco is quite large. From what I remember of Chinatown in Sydney, it might be at least three or four times the size. Quite possibly more.


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Originally Posted by queenie82 View Post
Love the fortune cookie making.

So is Dim Sum the same as Yum Cha?
I sort of think of Dim Sum as a specific food. A medium ball wrapped in a thin 'paper' like wrapping. They are either fried or steamed. The size of a bun sort of.
Now that is also sort of a dumpling though...but I think of a dumpling more as a small piece of meat or shrimp wrapped with crimped edge.

Thanks
Dim Sum is the almost universal name for Dim Sum everywhere; except in Australia. We call it Yum Cha here. The literal translation of Yum Cha is to "drink tea". You would go to Dim Sum and Yum Cha; so they are pretty much like bread and jam; milk and tea. I never worked out why it is called Yum Cha in Australia and it took me a good 4 or 5 years to get my head around this when I first came here.

We also have the other quirk of the Aussie Dim Sim. That is the medium ball of meat wrapped in a thicker wrapping than that used for the Dim Sum dumplings. The Aussie Dim Sim can be fried or steamed.

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I can't believe how you got behind the scenes! I want to go to Chinatown with YOU! That's so cool, they won't give us round eyes such a warm welcome. We used to go to all kinds of places in Chinatown when I was in HS and we would get pork buns and all sorts of stuff, I don't know how many restaurants we tried, but we loved them all. I wonder how many were actually authentic. I have never had Dim Sum, but have always wanted to!
You're on! Next time - how about a DisMeet in San Francisco Chinatown?
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Old 03-08-2011, 05:35 AM   #372
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Sorry I digress! I was meant to write about your phenomenal Chinatown trip. What an awesome thing to be able to show your son! I have to admit that somehow, we always gravitate to visit the Chinatown of the cities that we visit. Its almost like a homing beacon.
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Old 03-08-2011, 05:37 AM   #373
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Queenie, you live near a suburb called Eastwood!!! You can find most things Asian there. The Asian marts there stock a phenomenal range of things, probably only put to shame by those in Cabramatta.


Dim sum are the little dishes of food. Yum cha means tea drinking and is the description of the meal itself as traditionally you eat the dim sum with tea.
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Old 03-08-2011, 05:39 AM   #374
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Sorry I digress! I was meant to write about your phenomenal Chinatown trip. What an awesome thing to be able to show your son! I have to admit that somehow, we always gravitate to visit the Chinatown of the cities that we visit. Its almost like a homing beacon.
We're posting at the same time!

Thank you. I was determined that this holiday was going to be a bit more educational for DS and he really enjoyed it.

Its like a universal homing beacon and we're the homing pigeons. I'm the same.
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Old 03-08-2011, 05:49 AM   #375
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It's too confusing to try and quote you guys writing all at once

So to Shushh and PrincessinOz -
I realised the spelling misreading with the whole Dim Sim/Sum thing a few hours ago but thought it a bit late to change so I'd leave it
I DIDN'T know about the "Yum Cha" phrase just being in Oz though!! That's cool. But my multiple friends from Hong Kong NEVER told me
I must say I like the Dim Sum part better than the Yum Cha

Shushh - As for shops...proximity isn't the issue. Being able to read the labels and know what I'm getting is more it...
I have a friend who shops around Bankstown and knows EXACTLY what she is getting. So I want her to get them.
I remember we went to a big asian grocery store near central and I picked up one box of redbean icecreams and was told off as it wasn't as good a brand...

I really love Chinatown in San Fran but I do find it overwhelming at times. It was truly enlightening seeing your educational tour for your DS

Thanks again
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