Friday, June 7, 2013

Chinatown and More with San Francisco Visitors

Lois and Terry were in San Francisco for a few days this week. I joined them for most of one day.

They had some specific places they wanted to go in the City, one of which was to the Mee Mee Bakery in Chinatown where they wanted to buy fortune cookies.

Since we were meeting downtown, I suggested that we make a leisurely day of our fortune cookie quest by walking through Chinatown, stopping at any place that caught our fancy.  And, for lunch, have a dim sum at one of the popular restaurants in Chinatown.

I had not had time before meeting them to have my morning tea, which I was craving. So we first stopped for a Bubble Tea at Ten Ren Tea.  It is Ten Ren's 949 Grant Avenue location that serves Bubble Tea; the location at 550 Grant, while closer to downtown, does not serve tea.

Lois had never had Bubble Tea and enjoyed her hot green milk tea with the sweetened tapioca pearls, called Boba, which is what makes Bubble Tea Bubble Tea.  Terry was familiar with Bubble Tea and said that Ten Ren's was the best Bubble Tea she's had.  It was to Ten Ren that I went when researching for "Tea Culture" a few years ago to drink an authentic Bubble Tea.  Having had many Bubble Teas since that time, I can say that Ten Ren's really is the most other places, the tapioca pearls are stuck together, probably from sitting for too long before being put into the tea drink. Ten Ren's pearls and tasty teas are perfect.

Our next stop was at Mee Mee Bakery where we all bought bags of fortune cookies.

We chose Mee Mee over other fortune cookie bakeries in Chinatown because Mee Mee makes, not only the usual kind of fortune cookies but also strawberry and chocolate flavored fortune cookies...and even offers blue and green fortune cookies. Mee Mee has been making fortune cookies in Chinatown since 1950. They also make coin-shaped cookies, almond and sesame cookies, moon cakes, and other pastries. The entire bakery/factory is in a tiny space.  The owner, at our request, took us on a "tour" to see the cookies being made. Some of the equipment cramped into the back of the bakery dates back to the bakery's beginnings. The tour takes just a few minutes, but seeing the ovens and machines is fascinating. Sorry not to have pictures of the factory; no photos allowed inside!

Our dim sum lunch was at New Asia, formerly Asia Garden.

Even on a Monday, New Asia was bustling with its mostly-Asian crowds. We had about a 10-minute wait before being seated. Once seated, we chose several dishes of dim sum from the rolling carts that continuously tempted us.

We ended our day together by walking back downtown through Union Square.

When we passed the Grand Hyatt Union Square, I pointed out the Ruth Asawa Fountain and noted that the next time they are in San Francisco, it might not be in this location, where it has been since 1973.

The reason the fountain might be moved is that Apple is planning to relocate its downtown San Francisco store to the site of the Levi's store at the corner of Stockton and Post Streets.  The plans for the store, which have just been presented to the San Francisco powers-that-be, do not have, at this writing, a provision for the Fountain which is in the plaza behind where the store will be.  This is causing quite an uproar among the locals.


Ruth Asawa is a Japanese American sculptor. The fountain is something of a San Francisco landmark. It depicts San Francisco and its landmarks.  Over 250 school children and artists created baker's clay sculptures which were then cast in bronze to create the 7' high x 13'3" diameter bas-relief fountain.

We spent a bit of time looking at the sculptures that cover the fountain.

We ended our day with a bit of shopping around Union Square.

Terry and Lois, do come back soon!

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