Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Taste of San Francisco's Chinatown

(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!




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34 comments:

pam said...

Thanks for sharing that YouTube video...I've never seen the process of making fortune cookies....and 20,000 in one day.

J Bar said...

Terrific Chinatown shots.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

Kirsten said...

Your photos are gorgeous, I love the streetcar shot.

I have always wanted to visit that Chinatown, I have only visited the NY one, but the picture of the shoes/slippers reminds me that I need a new pair but I don't think I can justify going halfway across the country for shoes....at least not yet ;)

Dishesdone said...

Great tour of Chinatown, Pat, looks like a great trip! Food looks great! I find a difference sometimes just from restaurant to restaurant here.

Penny @ The Comforts of Home/Lavender Hill Studio said...

I just finished reading Shanghai Girls...so reading this post was great!

Tales From My Empty Nest said...

As always, your pictures are always so good and your tours are the best!! I would love to travel with you anywhere. I have never been to San Francisco, so I enjoyed that so much. Thanks! Love & blessings from NC!

Living In Williamsburg Virginia said...

Great shots and insight into Chinatown.

Darryl and Ruth : )

Lucy said...

There's a place down on the water somewhere that has the best clam chowder I've ever eaten. And I've never been a clam chowder fan nor any sea fish meals. But I could die right now to get some more of that particular clam chowder. I think it's best when you're right on the coast. Smelling the ocean.

steviewren said...

I feel like I just spent the day in Chinatown! I'm glad I didn't have to walk up any of those hills to enjoy the visit though!

Riet said...

Oh what a wonderful city San Francisco is and Chinatown must be so special. We were there 30 years ago for one day and I only remember Fisherman's wharf and the golden gate bridge. I love your pictures , it is as if I am walking right beside you. Thank you for sharing

Ebie said...

You captured the beautiful spots of Chinatown.

Its a real San Francisco treat! (Hehehe, I sound like the commercial)

Marilyn said...

Absolutely enchanting!! Your photography is beautiful & it captures the area like a travel brochure.
Love the post!!
Have a Wonderful Week!
Love,
Marilyn

Old Kitty said...

What a lovely Chinatown!!! I always think you can not have a proper city without a china town but this one here is San Francisco is stunning!! And so colourful - look at those houses -unashamedly bold and vibrant!

I do like that pyramid building - especially now that I learn it's designed to imitate a tree! How lovely!!!

Fortune cookies!!! How quick is that?? I love fortune cookies and I may be silly but I always believe those little slips of paper!!!

Now that's what I call steep! Look at the incline of those roads - but that's what make SF so unique - trams and steep roads!!

Oh I am salivating at the mouth with your pics of your meal!! I love restaurants like these - so substance over style!! It is funny though that your soup came later and very interesting that the flavours are different to New York! I love that - the food is regionalised!

I am thoroughly enjoying sharing your fab trip to SF- thank you!

take care
x

Becky K. said...

Such gorgeous photos! Every one is a work of art.

Becky K.
Hospitality Lane

GrandmaK said...

Truly one of my favorite cities. We lived in Burlingame just south of SF and for and entire year we would spend our weekends in The City! Beautiful pictures of Chinatown! It is a wonderful place to visit. Will have to share my "Chinatown" tale some time. Thanks for the memories...I have also added your link! Wishing you a wonderful day!!!! Cathy

Tracy said...

This taste as DELICIOUS, Pat... just been loving seeing/reading about your SF trip! The food looks sooogood... as does the shopping... ;o) Happy Day ((HUGS))

Gracie said...

I've read so many novels set there it's almost like I've already visited the city! Thanks as always for sharing your photos and stories with us.

Vee said...

Colorful, large, and bright...such amazing vitality in your photos. Sorry about your anticipated dinner at the restaurant...soup served last? Strange.

daylily (Queenmothermamaw) said...

As usual I am first of all stunned by the excellent photos but then I am caught up in the description and sights of the area. You would make a good tourist guide. Great info on the video too.
QMM

La Petite Gallery said...

Haven't been to San Francisco
China town in many years. The
China town in Boston is where I go. Love it. When I get to NYC that is where I will go
and then Italian food.

black eyed susans kitchen said...

This really does look like a fun place pat, but I would have to do some serious training before I could walk up and down those hills!
♥, Susan

Pondside said...

What a lovely post! I long to visit San Fransisco - perhaps this year. Your collages are great - such a lot to see. I know that I'd be sitting down to a meal of those dumplings and then trying on the pretty slippers - and buying lots of them for all the girls in the family. Thanks for the little escape.

Theanne and Baron said...

Nice to "revisit" San Francisco's China Town...haven't been there since 1982 (with my future husband). He and I very much enjoyed Chinese cooking...seeing the food made my mouth water.

Claudia said...

I had my first sesame noodles in Chinatown, San Fran. Hesitant at first (really? cold noodles?) my cousin insisted and am I ever glad he did. I love the juxtaposition of the Transamaerica Pyramid with the old of Chinatown. 20,000 Fortune Cookies - sounds like a title... and oh Pat - I keep forgetting about the salt!

Oliag said...

Wonderful post Pat! I'm ready to go right now:) Love the mosaic of the colorful buildings...everything seems grey and white here...

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I've enjoyed your posts of San Francisco! What beautiful window shopping in China Town! ♥

Linda said...

Great photos of Chinatown...I love going to the Chinatown in Los Angeles...the food is wonderful!!

nanny said...

Great tour....thanks!
I love all of the pictures...add another spot to my vacation list/ha

Sara said...

It is fun visiting San Francisco with you! I'm wondering if you got to the Cable Car Museum? That was really interesting for my husband and me when we visited there a few years ago.

To answer your question, yes, that is the Western Wall (Wailing Wall) on my blog header....

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Gorgeous, Pat.... I've heard of Chinatown in San Francisco all of my life. When people visit there, they always go to Chinatown. I can see why. What a neat place!!!! Thanks for sharing so much about it...

Stay safe this weekend... Hopefully, the storm will go on out to sea!!!!
Hugs,
Betsy

Ms. Bake-it said...

I love taking tours with you! You always have such great pictures and your posts are chock full of information. I have never been to San Francisco, so I enjoyed the tour very much.

Thanks!

~ Tracy

Sheila said...

Hello Pat - You have had a great holiday it seems and the photos you took tell me I'd love to visit there one day. Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

Blooming Rose Musings said...

As always your photos are superb! I feel as though I am traveling right along with you. Your descriptions are marvelous. Thank you so much for this tour!

Melanie said...

This was familiar to Hubby. He loves the place- less plastic than LA in his words.

Love the shoes!

We have the same even in England with Chinese food. In the south I hadn't had rice mixed with treacle but up here they do routinely. I'm still not sure about that.