We’ve been to Chinatown before … in Vancouver, New York, San Francisco and even Portland. As the kiddos are learning Mandarin, it is an opportunity to practice their language skills as well as experience a tiny bit of another culture. We thereby visit whenever the opportunity arises. Thus, our visit to San Francisco last week was not complete without spending a portion of the day in Chinatown. This time, we visited a few new places … both of which the munchkins have asked, “Can we stop here every time we come to Chinatown?”
When we first left the motel on 2nd and Howard, Sweetie asked if she could hold the city map. I asked if she wanted to be the navigator and she exclaimed with glee, “Yeah!” We led us to the Children’s Creativity Museum and from their she directed us to Powell Street Station to catch the cable car. I was very impressed with her sense of direction. Upon boarding the cable car, she was careful to read each street sign and signaled to us when we had arrived at Jackson Street, where she felt we should get off.
We walked two blocks – stopping briefly when anything unusual (at least us) and then turned onto an alley where we immediately found the San Francisco Fortune Cookie Factory. It is literally a hole in the wall … located on Ross Alley, it is one of the oldest fortune cookie companies in San Francisco. If you are looking for a tourist attraction (i.e. a tour), gourmet fortune cookies, single cookies, or picture taking opportunities (they charge 50 cents) – this place is not for you. If you are looking for a tiny shop, free samples, flat cookies, cookies in bulk, or great customer service – you’ve found the right place.
Within a few paces of the entrance you can see fortune cookies being made right in front of you. First, the thin circular cookie is pulled off a hot press. Then, a fortune is placed on one side of the hot, flat dough. Next, each soft, hot cookie is shaped over a steel rod into the shape of a fortune cookie. This process must be done very quickly, otherwise the cookie will harden before it has the right fortune cookie shape. When you are inside the factory, you will be amazed at how quickly the fortune cookies are made. An elderly man was at the entrance giving us free samples of warm cookies fresh of the grill. We watched for a few minutes while enjoying our samples and then before departing, purchased a bag of flats for ourselves.
From there we wandered about, going into shops that appealed to us including a coin / jewelry store that had solid gold coins. Buddy wanted to buy one of course but it was several thousand dollars. He settled for a gold-colored U.S. dollar coin instead … an even exchange. Sweetie found the Aroma Tea Company and saw that the sign said, “Free Tea Tasting” so she asked if we couldn’t take part. We sampled three types of tea and purchased two. Great idea, Sweetie! My stop was to a book store where we purchased a few children’s books and a tablet for each of the kiddos to practice writing their characters.
Another delightful afternoon exploring and learning. Life is good.