Archive for the ‘Chinatown’ Category

Bow Bow – Edelweiss in Tagalog

It’s come to my attention that we don’t give enough attention to our local great bars.


That’s from my birthday party last year at BOW BOW, a karaoke bar on Grant at Broadway. One of my favorite moments was when Candy kicked out 10 privileged twenty-somethings (I’m sure they Yelped about it immediately). Why? Because one of the guys was ordering a gin and tonic about 10 different times and refusing it each time, loudly. Why you would get a mixed drink here, is beyond my knowledge. It would take you about 5 minutes to realize your best bet is sake, Chinese whiskey, or bottled beer. Friends I made that night- another set of local regulars, two guys who considered Candy their adoptive mom, and 3 very professional old guys singing standards.

The song book has listings in Cantonese, Tagalog and English, and you will be rated, not only by the score on the big screen, but by the three guys sitting in the back waiting for their turn. One of the bartenders is opera-quality – she’s the one singing Edelweiss in Cantonese.

Best travel blog entry about SF evar

Old Ship Saloon Highway 101 Kearny Post Sutter HSBC House of Nanking flowering blossom tea Muni 30 Stockton 9x AT&T Park Angelina’s 22 Avenue and California fog son mist fog Stanford ELMI McCovey Marichal Mays Cepeda Portsmouth Square Ghirardelli Square Mechanics Institute Library Post Giants Winn Eugenio Velez Bay Bridge Adobe Saint Gregory’s of Nyssa Sara Miles Federal Reserve Bank Powell & Hyde Powell & Mason Van Ness Third & King Chronicle beach siren artichoke hearts salmon Golden Gate 1 Marin Vista Point yes yes yes Saint Francis!

New Year’s Pageant

Chinatown’s Buddha’s Universal Church puts on an assemblage cast performance of Buddhist Virtues- taking apart the most tense moments, your daughter’s independence and disobedience, a simple shoplifting moment- and solving them in simple moral principles of Buddhist virtue. Also, very cute little monkeys – some of the cast are 2 1/2- scamper across the stage or engage in lion and dragon fights.

It’s been going on for 40 years, in a melodically bilingual (yes, that’s possible) script written by the cast each year.

SF Chinatown Treasure Hunt: The Ox-ipital Lobes

Trivia Hunt, and waiting
Chinatown’s New Year Parade is not the only thing going on, it’s also the SF Chinatown Treasure Hunt, organized by Jayson Wechter. 100s, if not 1,000s, show up each year wind and rain, to run around downtown figuring out little clues for the sheer sake of peer approval and our love of taking tests.

I was in the Ox-ipital Lobes (it’s the Year of the Ox) and have put together a little picture story of the 4 1/2 hour long endurance test. First, we stood waiting for one and a half hours for my teammate, who had my ticket, to show up. Then, we were off at 5pm, to… get our scorecard!

We mulled about for a while trying different venues where we could sit, read, and discuss. Our usual haunt for this, One Market, was closed. We tried a few others, but made a difficult decision to go to Wine on Front, and endure kir royales, a cushy circular booth, and a New Zealand sauvignon blanc. I opted out of the cheese plate, since there was a time element to this hunt.

1st break

Besides answering the first part of every clue- and we actually got them all, which is a first for us, we built The Route.

the route

This is a brilliant system of 1) avoiding crossing Grant St. and thus the Chinatown Parade 2) numbering the intersections by clue #, and 3) hitting North Beach first. Last two years we left the outlying areas for last, and after 3 hours walking you do not want to climb Telegraph Hill.

We got one or two done and then took break #2: Tosca’s.

Ah, then off to more clues, which were like this: walk down a scary alley, find people with headlamps (other trivia teams) bait them and tease them, meander around confused creating red herrings, then quickly scribble the answer and let out your team call, “Whoop!” Once we yelled that and nearly caused a woman to have a heart attack as she was quietly necking a guy a North Beach alcove. No lie.

Our “whoop” started because of an ultra-cheesy clue at Broadway and Columbus, where you “would let out a ‘Whoop!’. No, it wasn’t City Lights, it was the big pianist mural above New Hong Kong restaurant.

Here is the process, with photos:
1) Go down creepy alley
Up alleyways

2) Tease other trivia hunters

3) Take a break and eat
Break #3

3 hours pass of similar cycles, and for some reason we were running late. We’re not that competitive, though we did take it seriously. Is that possible? Serious enough to sit down to beef chow fun, veggie chow mein and broccoli and chicken, on break #3. Break #4 was the above dim sum shop on Jackson, the cutest and most festive street, and had the chewiest Chinese doughnuts I’ve ever had (not a good thing).


We lost our guy to a crab festival in North Beach (he wasn’t a signed-up real team member either), but we managed to push through the FiDi in record 20 minutes, and 5 clues. 2 of our ladies work there, so it was easy.

As we approached the bandstand at Justin Herman Plaza, there was an expectant air. Could we get any recognition for finishing all of the clues?

Did we make the cut...

Last year we ran into the square at 10PM to absolutely nobody there, and it was a sad, crushing denouement. This year there were some official people hanging out who gave us the necessary approval, and we veered off to soak our feet and I personally headed home- another mile walk- but got sidetracked by a quick beer at Gino Carlo‘s with 2 teammates, then to enjoy carrot cake at Melt.

North Beach/Chinatown Political CheatSheet

North Beach from Coit Tower Yikes there’s a lot of people running for the District 3 Seat. OK I’m going to create a little cheat-sheet, and update it as I get more information (as this will take forever to write). Feel free to add in comments corrections/additions. I picked out four major issues:

  • Crime: escalating homicides, and the ongoing Broadway Corridor issues.
  • Development: everyone’s abuzz with the plywood-ing of North Beach, and general development efforts (letting in chains, not letting in chains, spot zoning, etc.).
  • Transportation: The Central Freeway is coming! And, well, the usual suckiness of the 30-Stockton crowded scene on Grant St. any given day, and oh, the rudeness of drivers… cycling hostility, I could go on.
  • Rental Protection: Whether you’re for it or against it, it’s an expensive city and people get elbowed out- like our firemen & teachers, and rising rental rates mean less interesting mom & pop stores.

The chart reflects my notes made from the candidates’ web sites and not any other journalistic writeup, observations, conversations or gossip (that’s at the end!).

M. DeNunzio W. Pang D. Chiu
Crime MD: a priority, not top WP: unknown/low DC: former DA, high priority
Rental Protection MD: Important, as he’s into senior services WP: unknown/low DC: high priority & a plan
Development MD: Very strong, pro-development, though no plan WP: Lots of ideas, very important, lots of energy. DC: focus on small business & merchant corridors
Transportation MD: into transportation spending WP: unknown/low DC: cyclist & bus rider, high priority
L. Johnson J. Alioto C. Cheng T. Gantner
Crime LJ: foot patrols, after-school plan, SAFE. Top priority. JA: foot patrols. CC: n/a, active in homelessness (as assoc. with Crime) TG: foot patrols & meet weekly with Central Station
Rental Protection LJ: pro workforce-housing, not jus subsidized JA: unknown/low priority CC: active in community benefits TG: unknown/low priority
Development LJ: a priority, end to spot zoning, work with Planning dept. JA: incentives for new merchants. CC: focused on world trade relationships TG: a priority- active in Merchant Assoc.
Transportation LJ: unknown/not a priority JA: unknown/low priority. CC: Currently very active in RENEW SF and other transit committees TG: unknown/low priority

Candidate Sites:
Lynn Jefferson (LJ)
Wilma Pang (WP)
Joe Alioto, Jr. (JA)
Claudine Cheng (CC)
David Chiu (DC)
Tony Gantner (TG)
Mike DeNunzio (MD)

More reading:
Extra! ‘Culture of fear’ stalks Grant Avenue! by Tony Long

Joe Aliot, Jr. Enters SF Sentinel

District 3 – S.F.’s hottest supervisorial race Wyatt Buchanan of SF Gate

Opinion & Hearsay
So, I know someone who knows someone in the David Chiu campaign, and he sounds neat. I met Lynn at a fundraiser, and she was nice and eager to fix things. I walk by the Alioto headquarters every day. I haven’t really noticed my favorite shops endorsing one candidate or another. I’m mostly concerned, personally, with transportation and the plywood issue. I’m impressed with Connie’s Angel Island experience, that’s a really interesting bipartisan, historical and cultural level. Wilma has some energy and interest, and I like the global perspective that the Chinatown candidates have.

The issue with this race is that the 3 major areas- North Beach, Downtown & Chinatown – require someone who doesn’t have a real core bias, and can manage the peripheral, but also important areas- North Waterfront, Russian Hill & Telegraph Hill. If you get someone really entrenched with the residential communities like Lynn or Alioto, you miss out on the other areas- same with a Chinatown vote, as well as city-wide concerns (as transit is important across the city of course). So I looked at the more well-rounded candidates, that seem to target and address the issues that I’m mostly concerned with, and ended up with… drumroll please… David Chiu. Note: subject to change.

New Yorkers get heads up on Healthy San Francisco … did you?

Healthy San FranciscoThe NY Times today ran a piece on Healthy San Francisco, the city’s attempt to provide health care for some 80,000+ uninsured residents. If you haven’t heard of it, that’s likely because you don’t live in Chinatown. The only two clinics offering these gratis services since earlier this summer are in Chinatown.

That’s supposed to change by next week as over a dozen new clinics are added, but my attempts to log onto a supposed Healthy San Francisco city website went on for hours to no avail.

Maybe you’ll have better luck, go ahead try it:
( )

Of course the fact that the website is down currently, and all the people who thought this up & are in charge of this program are simultaneously writing resignation letters due to the mayor’s personal personnel issues, either does or doesn’t bode well for the success of the program. Supposedly taxes won’t need to rise because expenses are just a few hundred million a year, rationalized as basically what’s being spent on emergency care in SF already.

That all sounds dandy, but I just don’t quite see how this form of “care not cash II” scheme” will magically eliminate the bulk of emergency care expenses. Those bills aren’t just going to simply disappear because the city offers more casual clinical care as well. We’ll still have our gun battling boys, crazed crackheads, random red light runners, drunk driving dudes, and tawdry tangential tragedies all getting into medical mayhem monthly won’t we?

At least Gavin got a nice photo op with Michael Moore out of it so far, and the lady featured in the NY Times who moved here from China last year is being seen, so good for them…

So who knows about what will happen for the rest of us, just stay tuned …

I’m no doctor, but my advice is, if any of you have existing health insurance, don’t quit your day job…

Just a few things I saw today

Today I went to Chinatown in search of Szechuan pepper. My search was successful, and I also got a mortar and pestle with which to grind it. Even better, I got some pictures! More after the jump.

(Also, even though it has nothing to do with what I saw today, a few days ago I heard somebody yell “HEY, PAUL! I’LL TRADE YOU THREE PLAYBOYS FOR A LIGHTER!” over on Hyde, near the library. Gotta love the Tenderloin.)


Beautiful Days…

Spring It’s so amazingly beautiful out. I am on a few mailing lists that are seriously dormant (inc. this one, I have to say- I think I made the last comment!) and I rack it up to gorgeous days and people getting off their computers and out to frolic in (sadly) global warming inducing warm pre-Spring. Well I’m sick, so I get to sit here under blankets blogging about trends I perceive. Walked through Chinatown when I was well, a few nights ago, and wondered if it was a new New Year’s festivity I didn’t know about, there were so many folks pouring out of restaurants, wandering around. It wasn’t night market, so what was the deal? Then same thing in North Beach- every outside table was taken, and there are a lot. It’s just nice weather. Well, on Monday there’s a little showers icon with a questionmark, so who knows.

SF Treasure Hunt

SF Treasure Hunt Sped over to Justin Herman Plaza yesterday at 4:30PM to start the San Francisco Treasure Hunt. Hundreds of folks filled the plaza, and we stood around, coming up with a name last minute: “Days of Swine and Roses.” We were surprised when it won 3rd place in punny team titles. Then, off to One Market to get beer, and concentrate on solving 18 clues. Here is a sampling, #18:

Take the six-letter word for what people often sing in (and subtract an ‘s’); knowin’ you is a reversal but sounds like it can help. It reaches 700 when it starts going uphill…

The toy store?

Colors of Chinatown

I don’t care too much for the tourist trapping Grant Avenue section of Chinatown, but I really dig the open air markets and hanging duck butchers a block over.

Butcher and Hanging Ducks

Chinese Eggplant

Dried Seafood

The full Chinatown set can be found here.

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