I guess I was a bit too ambitious with my plans of posting a recap of each day of my trip two weeks later. It's not surprising, really, given my ambitious standards combined with my penchant for procrastination. Luckily, much of Wednesday and Thursday of the trip were spent sleeping on a tour bus, so I won't need to say too much about the trip (I might even combine the two days into one post). Without further interruption, here's the first Sunday of my trip, about 2 and a half weeks ago:
After sleeping at 4AM the previous night (or is it considered early morning?), I fully expected to wake up around 11AM in the morning. Hopefully. In fact, I woke up to my mother telling me it was 11AM. However, her phone had not changed its time when we arrived like mine had, so it was still on East Coast time. So that means that I was wide awake and refreshed at 8AM...after less than 4 hours of sleep. I'm starting to love it out here - it makes me feel less lazy.
After showering and getting dressed, we head out to get some breakfast in Chinatown, which is literally across the street. Of course, we have no idea what restaurants are good and what restaurants are not, so my mother asks around. We basically get no good answer from the locals we do ask. After about 10 minutes, we decide to go to a place with the Siu Lop (Cantonese BBQ meats, which includes roast pork and roasted pig) in the window. Good decision. My mother loves congee, and the restaurant's menu had the right types of congee for her. I decide to order a 3 combination on rice (3 types of Siu Lop on rice) and share some of my parent's congee. When the food arrives, my mother gives the congee a taste, and after a few spoonfuls, declares that it is better than any congee in NYC. Which isn't that hard to do - we have found precious few places that serve decent congee in NYC.
Tangent - a few years back on one of these threads, I made the passionate case that NYC's Chinese food was better than the Chinese food of the majority of the United States. I still stand by that claim, but even my parents and I have been disenchanted by the declining quality of Cantonese food in our city. It started with the close of the Natural Restaurant on Allen Street in Manhattan's Chinatown, and we have never been able to go to a restaurant as good as it was. But though we knew that NYC's Cantonese Food was starting to become rather meh, we had no idea that SF's Cantonese Food would absolutely trounce it as badly as it did. It makes me thankful, really, that I had the chance to experience it.
Back on topic.
My 3 combination on rice dish is very good as well - the roasted pig skin is very crisp and flavorful, but the roast pork was the real champion here. Unlike in NYC, where the roast pork tends to be drenched in sweet honey, the roast pork we had at this restaurant eschewed the honey, which tends to mask the taste of the pork a bit. We got to taste the roast pork all alone in all its glory, and it was quite glorious. So glorious, in fact, we bought some for our flight back several days later.
After breakfast/lunch, we walk around Chinatown. I had mentioned that my mother had some relatives in Locke and Walnut Grove, which is why we wanted to visit those towns. It turns out that that relative was my great-grandfather, who my mother loved deeply because he helped raise her (her father, my grandfather, didn't see lay eyes on here until she was 16. He was in the U.S. at that time, pushing, ahem, pro-Communist agendas in the States. So in the Skybar Genealogy Thread
, I was only half joking with my claims. Of course, I was not raised on a pro-Communist agenda. Nor did I go to Americanization re-education camps. But I am a REAL American
It turns out my great-grandfather also worked in one of the movie theaters within San Francisco, sweeping its floors and doing other errands. Many of these theaters were owned and operated by the Chinese Communist Party. We spent much of that morning looking for and asking the older locals about the whereabouts of the various theaters. This is what we were able to find:
Here is the what we think is the most likely theater that my great-grandfather worked in. It is now some sort of mall with different types of shops:
Here are a couple of others we believe used to be movie theaters. The third one picture shows the Gold Mountain Restaurant; we believe a former theater used to be located in the shuttered area to the left of the restaurant (within the same building), and to the right of the pet store:
But we did not expect to find what turned out to be the most exciting find of that morning. As we perused the various grocery markets and bakeries along Stockton Street, we found ourselves in front of an unassuming door. A nearby sign stated that this was home of the Tung Sen Benevolent Association, Tung Sen being the archaic romanticization of the current region of Zhong San in the Guangdong Province in China. More relevantly, Zhong San (or Tung Sen) is my mother's hometown.
So we went up the stairs to the Benevolent Association's office, and rang the doorbell. After several rings, an old man comes up from the raucous mahjong room that we had passed on the way up, and tells us that the office does not open up until 2PM. My mother says no worries, but explains that she's from New York and was visiting SF, and was simply interested in connecting with her hometown's benevolent association. That exchange led to a further 45 minutes of friendly conversation between my mother and the old man, an officer at the Benevolent Association, as the man let us in to see its offices:
The last picture shows an appreciation letter to the Association from former President Clinton.
If I remember correctly, much of the conversation between my mother and the man revolved around reminiscing about their hometown, and the role the hometown emigrates played in SF. The one key thing in the conversation that I remembered was the part when my mother mentioned her mother's name (my grandmother, who died about 20 years ago). The man was completely taken aback by the fact that this was the daughter of my grandmother, who was an important Communist official in the Zhong San region (my grandmother was also famous for her renowned beauty, which makes me wonder how I became so ugly.
So after that busy morning, my parents needed a rest and headed back to the hotel for a nap (luckily, it's nearby.
). After the rest, with the Game 6 of the NBA Finals was coming up (and earlier than I had expected - it was an 8PM Eastern game, but I thought it was a 9PM Eastern game like most of the others, so I came back to my hotel room as halftime was about to end), I had to cut the rest of my planned trip short.
So no Sunday Streets of 3rd Street, as Gordo had kindly suggested. I still tried to kinda make it by walking along the Embarcadero, taking in the standard sights along the way (Ferry Building, giant bow-and-arrow sculpture, views of the Bay Bridge). But I knew we were only going to make it as far as AT&T Park (am I the only one who still thinks of it as Pac-Bell Park?) before I had to hurry back to the game. I did, however, get this cliched shot of the Transamerica Pyramid at the beginning of this short trip: