(All photos will enlarge is clicked on once, and then again)
San Francisco's Chinatown is the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, as well as the oldest Chinatown in North America. Only sixteen square blocks in size, it is a vibrant, crowded and colorful place to visit, and no visit to San Francisco would be complete without seeing it. The Chinatown Gate, also known as the Dragon Gate, located on Grant Avenue at Bush Street, as seen in my photo above, was a gift from Taiwan in 1970, and was inspired by traditional Chinese village gates.
The city of San Francisco is a beautiful contrast between old and new, and this can be seen from this photo taken from Grant Street with the Transamerica Pyramid standing in the background. Chinatown borders the Financial District of San Francisco on its eastern border. My husband and I stayed at a Hilton Hotel near the pyramid, as he was there to do a three day audit for the company he works for. We arrived a few days early to enjoy the city together, and then also traveled to the wine country in Sonoma and Napa County and on to Yosemite National Park as part of our vacation.
As you can see looking down this street towards the Financial District from Chinatown, San Francisco is a city built on many hills, and many of the streets are quite steep! Thankfully all three existing lines of cable cars run through Chinatown -- the Powell-Hyde, the Powell-Mason and the California Line, along the steepest streets, so it is easy and fun to take them to visit Chinatown.
Another view of a street with an incline in Chinatown. Walking up them can be a challenge if you are not used to walking uphill often, as I soon found out! Notice how the cars have to turn their front wheels to prevent the vehicle from rolling down the hill.
An interesting alley to explore in Chinatown is Waverly, which runs parallel to Grant Avenue, between Washington and Sacramento Streets. It is full of picturesque buildings with colorful balconies.
Another interesting alley is Ross Alley, which is the location of the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, a hole-in-the-wall storefront where over 20,000 fortune cookies are baked and folded by hand every day. It was so small and so crowded out front with tourists that I could not even get close enough to take a good photo, but I did find this Youtube of how the cookies are made.
Grant Avenue is the main tourist shopping street and is full of both kitschy souvenirs, to exquisite pieces of Asian artworks, for sale, plus many restaurants and dim sum shops.
A photo collage of some of the unique items for sale on Grant Avenue in Chinatown.
The House of Nanking Restaurant, located at 919 Kearny Street, came highly recommended to us to dine for lunch or dinner, so we stopped by one late afternoon to avoid the dinner rush. Sometimes the line to get into this small unpretentious restaurant is an hour long, as it is always cited as one of the best places to get authentic Chinese cuisine at a good price in San Francisco publications. It is not fancy by any means, and my husband and I had a good chuckle when the hot and sour soup we ordered as part of our meal was served last! We shared pork dumplings, fried calamari and sesame noodles, along with a bowl of soup each. Everything was good, but I have to admit the flavorings of the soup and sesame noodles were different from what we are used to when we order them in New York's Chinatown, which is probably just a matter of regional differences of the chefs.
Hop onto the cable car and we'll visit some other San Francisco sights and experiences in my next blog post!
I'm joining Susan at "Outdoor Wednesday "on her blog A Southern Daydreamer and Cathy's Wednesday Adventure Tour Express on her blog A Bit of the Blarney. Please visit their blogs on Wednesday and see all the other outdoor adventures!