Is SF Chinatown A Dinosaur?


#1

With the passing of Rose Pak (RIP), I wonder what will become of SF Chinatown down the road? Some of the comments regarding Ms. Pak in the attached story are way over the top (IMHO). She was a defender of the little people. I can’t knock her for that. Was she abrasive? Absolutely. Sometimes you need to be in order to get things done in this town.

IMHO, Chinatown will stay Chinatown as long as the Chinese offspring stay in the area and continue the businesses that their parents started or continued from their ancestors. Once people sell out, well, all bets are off. We have the near completion of the Muni station there on Washington and Stockton and that could set off some major changes for the area. At least on our street in the fringe of Chinatown, our family was one of the first ones to rent to non Asians back in the day. Now, our street is occupied by mostly non Asian residents who are in their 20s.

There was a recent story on KTVU about how there are many more boarded up businesses in Chinatown. Now this, the most active advocate of Chinatown is no longer. Interesting times…


#2

I think as long as there are ping yuen buildings (low cost housing) around - it will sustain Chinatown for a long time. Do you know how many post 1st generation Chinese families live there while they “rent” out their other SF properties. That couple with new Chinese immigrants will keep Chinatown around.


#3

Not aware to what extent this problem is, but I am aware that a few years ago there was some migration of other ethnic groups into the Pings that caused crime onsite to jump a lot.

While developers are salivating over this general prime stretch of land between North Beach and Financial District, I believe we won’t see much properties changing hands since most of the properties are owned by fairly rich Chinese and/or by the associations. Unlike some neighborhoods that gentrified due to owners “needing” to sell out, I am not sensing that applies to Chinatown. Some modernization and remodeling would be welcomed though.


#4

Chinatown has not changed one bit since I first came to this country. It’s ugly and dirty, pretty much like what Hong Kong looked like back in the 50s. I think it should at least have some progress. I generally avoid Chinatown like a plague. I particularly hate that egg tart bakery with its long lines and mediocre egg tarts. Damn it. Any random bakery shop in Hong Kong has equally good or better egg tarts than them. But here in America they are like kings! !@)*!@!)$


#5

OMG, you really don’t know your food. Golden Gate Bakery is WORLD FAMOUS for their egg tarts. Hence the Disneyland queue line system put out there on the sidewalk no less. Even besting San Tung’s Yelp rating - 4+ stars!!! Besides, what is the point of comparing vs a bakery in HK, manch? The cost to get one of those would be a tad high…:slight_smile:


#6

Golden Gate Bakery is too snobbish. How often do they close down the whole shop for vacation??? C’mon. We Chinese pride ourselves on opening our doors even on Christmas day, and this snobbish shop closes down for the whole summer for vacation??


#7

Aaah yes, the ultimate sign of success, right? I mean, we are talking SF, one of the most expensive cities around and probably #1 or #2 in the US when it comes to food yet this bakery can shut down for a long vacation and just make you wait for it when they finally decide ok time to open up again…WOW!!! And you know the kool-aid drinkers will be there, in that Disneyland queue anxiously waiting to buy that pink box of a dozen egg tarts…

Funny you mention that about the holidays and chinese restaurants. We usually host Thanksgiving and to be honest my wife is a great Malaysian food cook but American turkey and stuffing aint her thang, so we usually cater out and do a sort of buffet where we will also have of course the honey ham and if the fishing season is not canceled like last year we usually also have cracked dungeness crab for Thanksgiving. In the past, San Tung was open for Thanksgiving so we would naturally order 5-6 orders of wings to go. Well, they finally closed down on Thanksgiving recently at least for dinner to give their hardworking employees the day off. My guests were not happy of this development!!!


#8

That means to me they ain’t no Chinese restaurant no more.


#9

God, I hope you aren’t this tough with the kiddies…

It seems like in the past few years, more and more people in all walks of life are realizing that working so hard for forever is not exactly the smartest thing to do. You gotta enjoy yourself at some point. A lot of my buddies are retiring in their early 50s from stressful jobs and just enjoying themselves. Whether it be traveling or doing volunteer work, people are deciding that money in itself is not all it is cracked up to be. As Biggie Smalls used to sing - Mo money, mo problems…


#10

I have to agree with you @manch, very ordinary egg tarts that got deified for no good reason.


#11

Do you get commission from Golden Gate Bakery as well? World famous? More like bay area famous (and their egg tarts are nothing special).


#12

Golden Gate Bakery also makes moon cakes and other types of Hong Kong bakery stuff like pineapple buns. All are mediocre to bad. Speaking of egg tarts, East Lake makes kickass egg tarts.

If you want some semi-decent Hong Kong style bakery try “Fancy Wheat Field” on San Bruno Ave. Their egg tarts are pretty meh so don’t get those. All the other stuff is pretty solid. Much better than the phony Golden Gate.


#13

@harriet,

On light subjects like this one, I do tend to exaggerate just to get a rise from folks like you and our Grand Poobah @manch. To answer your question, no, I do not get a little envelope from either GGB or San Tung when I make my daily rounds in the fab 7x7…

Did it ever occur to you and @manch that it may be just you guys who aren’t getting it? Kinda like the old PC crowd vs the Apple crowd. Apparently, the marketplace has spoken loudly and positively for both establishments, yet, here you guys are, stomping your feet like little bratty children who want their way. Ain’t happening. Do you think the San Tung boys were concerned when their low cleanliness score came out? I am sure they laughed about it and promptly made the hordes of people outside move so that they can post that sign on their door. Business has never been better. For every one naysayer to these places, you have nine yaysayers. Anybody in their right mind would take those odds any day of the week. And the funny thing is, I am not an egg tart guy at all. I just recognize small, solidly run family businesses that are bucking the system and the craziness of the fab 7x7 each and every day they are open.


#14

Never had an egg tart…Pretty sure I wouldnt wait in line for one…lol


#15

Come on @Elt1, not you. You are a businessman who clearly sees numbers and acts on numbers, no? When people overwhelmingly choose something consistently over time that tells you something, no? Sure, some flash in the pan outfit will try to dethrone the King now and then but generally speaking they never succeed regardless of what the naysayers say. These are legacy businesses with the golden recipe.

The famed French Laundry restaurant in Yountville is known for its rigid reservation policy. My old boss used to spend all morning trying to get reservations and this was way before the restaurant really got popular. Do you think Thomas Keller gives a sh*t about what people say about the expensive food or the crazy exact reservation system he deploys on the masses? Of course not. People will do what it takes to get what they want, which is apparently tiny food on a huge white plate for upwards easily of $500 a head when paired with wine…


#16

I don’t have to change my palate to cater to what everybody else likes. If other people like GGB and San Tung, great for them, just not my cup of tea.


#17

I get that, but do you honestly believe that many people would be wrong though??? Law of large numbers again…


#18

Oh I don’t think they are wrong, I just think they have never had great egg tarts to begin with for comparison so they think GGB’s are good. That and the lack of great egg tarts in the bay forced them to settle for mediocre food.


#19

Could be that they are catering to local taste (never been there) or building up hype. That would set me up for disappointment, either way.

Is Chinatown such a destination spot? You can get Chinese groceries and food in other (cleaner) areas too


#20

People are like sheep. If one jumps at one point, they all jump at the same point. But, none of them knows why? - tomhvallejo