Saturday, April 14, 2012

Girls Day in Chinatown

Prior to the move, Munch and I would typically stick to the East Bay when exploring. But now that we're closer to San Francisco, we have a whole new area to discover. In the middle of two days of forecasted rain and showers during Spring Break, we pulled on our rainboots and grabbed our umbrellas and headed to SF Chinatown, figuring that the rain would keep most tourists people away. A trip into the city meant we could also visit my aunt and uncle before they left for Wisconsin, so on the way we stopped in the Richmond district to bring them some char siu bao, baked bbq pork buns. Lung Fung makes our family's favorite. As they are "Lolo Owl's" favorite, we also grabbed a few cocktail buns and a small chicken hand pie that Munch wanted to taste.

At my aunt and uncle's house, Munch attempted to capture her favorite cat, Annie, and have a mini fashion show. My aunt had made Munch the most darling crocheted hats-

Other than a lot of roadwork, Munch and I had a fairly easy drive to Chinatown. I realized that other than driving past the dragon gates, I had never been for a visit either.

We walked uphill several blocks to find our first stop-a bakery to pick up some dumplings- Munch's favorite har gow, of course- and what I had read on yelp were really delicious gai bao- buns filled with chicken, boiled egg, a bit of chinese sausage, and a whole shiitake mushroom-

Just up the street I saw the sign for Golden Gate Bakery. Chowhound discussion boards have been buzzing about this place for years- are they open or closed, their frequent vacations, the passing of their pastry maker, the long lines, and their AMAZING dan tat. Walking closer, I saw that the bakery was open (hooray!) and the line was just a couple of people out the door (even better!). Munch and I quickly joined the queue for our custard tarts, making sure to get a few extra for Grandpa-

Their moon cakes looked beautiful too, but I had no idea what the differences were, so Munch and I quickly chose one filled with lotus seed paste and an egg yolk-

By now Munch and I were carrying two pink bakery boxes and were hungry, so I asked a young couple behind me where their favorite bubble tea place was. They directed me to the Sweetheart Cafe a couple of blocks away, where Munch ordered a soy mango smoothie and I had a fresh taro smoothie with coconut milk. Service was strangely slow, but the drinks eventually came out and Munch and I enjoyed them with a variety of the treats we had gathered.

Bellies full, Munch and I were ready to shop. She picked out a bright pink parasol from one store, we wandered a few alleyways before stumbling upon the fortune cookie factory, then we stopped in a market to pick up some snacks to take home where Munch found the most adorable panda cookies-

On our way back to the car, we came to the shop behind St. Mary's Cathedral where I found a children's prayer book for Munch. We ducked into the church for a few minutes to rest and admire the stained glass windows while Munch read her new book and practiced the "Our Father". I was surprised that Munch mentioned not seeing the holy water as we came in, but she found a bubbling fountain in the foyer and made the sign of the cross as we exited the church.

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