I'm not sure, but all the dim sum I ate yesterday may or may not have canceled out all the walking I did around town. And all that walking - walking from the B&B to the Muni (the quite efficient - and clean - mass transit for the city itself, much of it underground), then after hopping the cable car and taking it to historic Chinatown. Mmm, okay, so I didn't do as much walking as I thought. But I walked a whole lot more on the way back, skipping the cable car altogether.
Stockton Street in Chinatown has many grocers, knick knack shops, clothing shops (both touristy and not), and not a whole lot of tourists. There were definitely non-Chinese roaming around but there weren't many, and it was easy to find people that did not speak English (and folks keep talking about making English the official language - ha).
I came, in part, for food, and the Lonely Planet guide I brought with me - San Francisco Encounter - suggested a "dim sum crawl." That is, go to different dim sum joints and just buy some here and there. The clerks to a woman (I only ran into female vendors) looked a little annoyed that I just bought one or two pieces and left, but it is money in their pocket. Here's where I went:
Fortune Star Cafe - I got a cold but tasty steamed shumai with pork and shrimp for under $1. Very moist and flavorful, this shumai was open on the top (I saw this shumai in several places up and down Stockton and off its side streets).
Wing Sing Dim Sum - Here I pigged out on a big rice ball, which tasted like chicken broth but was hardly soggy at all, and some custard buns with rice dough on the outside, sort of like what they wrap mochi in. This all cost me about $1.50. I had a very difficult time communicating with the woman behind the counter, but I still got what I wanted (dim sum) and she still got what she wanted ($$$).
You's Dim Sum - I got what was described as a shark fin potsticker (again, I saw this everywhere), three for $1. Didn't get the ubiquitous steamed buns that were everywhere. And they came in many different varieties, too - chicken, pork, chicken and pork, shrimp, red bean, rice, etc.
A few other places I stopped had my stomach bursting, or soon will anyway.
Mee Mee Bakery - I'm not the biggest fan of fortune cookies, but these folks make many different flavors and sizes of fortune cookie. I bought a 1 lb bag of flavored fortune cookies for $7. The flavors? Not only the traditional vanilla (that's the flavor we get in those free cookies at every Chinese restaurant in North America), but also strawberry, chocolate, and a few other flavors I didn't catch. I ate a strawberry one. Pretty tasty. The fortune I'll keep to myself.
Molinari Delicatessen - My eyes began to bug out when I turned the corner, hit Columbus St. and practically found a Little Italy right next to Chinatown, in SF's
North Beach Nob Hill area. I bought a 2 lb. salami ($10) - "world famous" apparently. And I'm not coming back in God knows how long, so I figured I'd just buy it now. Haven't tasted it yet, but the patrons seem to love the food there.
Stinking Rose - I know I'm insane, but stuffed as I was I had to go into this restaurant. I've seen another one in LA of the same name. Their claim to fame is that just about every dish is made with garlic. In fact, it says right on their menu, "We flavor our garlic with food." But with all that dim sum in my stomach, I wasn't about to order much. I ordered their:
- garlic potato soup, which came with a pastry crust. At $8 for the soup, I was determined to eat as much of it as possible. I could only finish half of it. Very tasty, smooth soup, which was as potato-ey as it was garlicky.
- bagna calda, which means "hot bath" in Italian. Usually it is anchovies and garlic in a hot bath of olive oil. This one was a small pan filled with slices and slices and slices of garlic (it seemed like hundreds), with some sprinkles of anchovy, all in olive oil. The anchovy actually tasted like garlic - I couldn't taste it at all! Very good, especially when you spread the garlic on the bread that they give you. Don't even need a knife, just use the spoon they give you. Only $5 but I still couldn't finish it.
- Chateau de Garlique - you figured it out: a white wine infused with garlic, or made with garlic, or whatever ($7). It was an experience to drink it, an experience I'm not quite ready to go through again.