Friday, November 28, 2014


At the beginning of the week:

Lunch: steamed chicken over rice (蒸滑雞飯 'jing gwat kai faan') with sauteed bitter melon (炒苦瓜 'chau fu gwa') on the side, and a small bowl of old fire soup (老火湯 'lou fo tong').
I actually was hoping for the steamed pork patty rice (蒸肉餅飯 'jing yiuk beng faan'), which they often also have, but I came too late; they had had a busy day.
With a cup of coffee (一杯咖啡 'yat pui ga-fei'), only five bucks.
Cheap, but good. Small restaurant, warm people.
They also have dim sum items.

The place:

815 Stockton Street (between Sacramento and Clay)
San Francisco, CA 94108

['fuk cheung dim sam']

For reference purposes, here are some recipes for steamed chicken and steamed pork patty. If you slide both of these onto a bowl of parboiled rice before putting them into the steamer, the juices will permeate nicely.


Half pound chicken in one, two, or several pieces.
One and a half Tsp cornstarch.
One Tsp soy sauce.
One Tsp sherry or rice wine.
A little ginger, minced fine.
Pinch of ground white pepper.
Pinch of sugar.

Rub the sugar and cornstarch into the chicken all over. Put it into a shallow basin, drizzle the soy sace and sherry on top, and let it sit for half an hour. Turn occasionally. Add the ginger and put it in the steamer for fifteen minutes.


Half pound ground pork.
One Tsp cornstarch.
One Tsp soy sauce.
One Tsp sherry or rice wine.
One Tsp cooking oil.
A little ginger, minced fine.
Pinch of ground white pepper.
Pinch of sugar.

Optional, but highly recommended: a few thin slices of salt fish (咸魚 'haahm yü'), soaked to soften.

Mix everything except the salt fish and ginger, let it sit for thirty minutes. Then flatten it onto an oiled plate, arrange the salt fish on top, and add the ginger. Steam until done, about ten minutes or so.

You know I just love bitter melon, right? It's almost hands down my favourite vegetable. So it will not surprise you that it was one of the two green things I purchased afterwards while wandering down Stockton Street. The other one being a bunch of long beans (豆角 'dau gok'). Which will be great cooked with some of the kaka brand duck liver sausage (嘉嘉鴨膶臘腸 'gaa gaa ngaap-yun laap-cheung') I found at Tan Tan.

[Over Tan Tan gesproken, het kan zeker niet gezegd worden dat the beleefdheid van hun afdruipt. Niet erg plezante lui, daar. Maar zij hebben voortreffelijke eenden lever worsten, dus ik zal maar niets kwalijks in het Engels over hun zeggen; teveel winkeltjes in Kampong Tjina hebben het moeilijk in deze tijden.]

I finished my post-prandial pipeful of tobacco (matured Virginias with a touch of Perique) while observing elderly people playing gin rummy over in Washington square -- don't worry, I stayed outside at the fence along Walter Lum Place, as I know that rabid wheatgerm freaks will attack me if I dare smoke inside a park in San Francisco -- then headed up the street for a cup of milk tea (奶茶 'naai cha').
Only to discover that Blossom Bakery is now doing the most delightful little pumpkin tarts (南瓜撻 'naam gwaa taat')! Utterly delicious fresh out of the oven, truly exquisite!

Seasonal, obviously.

The place:

133 Waverly Place (between Clay and Washington)
San Francisco, CA 94108.

['hang fuk beng gaa']

They've got a painting of a few boats at anchor on the back wall there, which reminded me of the word from whence English probably gets 'junk' for a Chinese sailing vessel: 船; pronounced 'chuán' in Mandarin, 'suen' in Cantonese.

The couplet strophed on either side does not mention these at all.


'gong-wu ho-hoi jing long-po',
'taat-tou siu-yiu yuen-gan yau'.

"Rivers, lakes, streams, and seas, pure breakers and waves;"
"Achieving passage free and unfettered, travelling hither & yon."

It is, as you can see, never-the-less appropriate. For such a painting.
And you will note that all seven words in the first line have the water radical (氵), all seven in the last line take a walk (辵).

One other layer: 'Gong-wu' (江湖) is term with a southern resonance; rivers and lakes, malarial wildernesses where brigands and outlaws hide out, the shadow world of rebels and criminal brotherhoods, the marshy boundary zones where chivalry and gallantry are often at their best, because such virtues have their greatest value when much else is in doubt.
'Ho-hoi' speaks of the northern heartland, the great plain (中原 'jong yuen', "central source") which was the arena of so much Chinese history, bounded and marked by the Yellow River (黃河 'wong ho'), and edged by the Swelling Sea (渤海 'put hoi'; Bohai) and the East China Sea (東海 'tung hoi').

'Gong' (江) is the great aquatic highway which bisects China, 'Ho' (河) the rebellious torrent which at times devastates the land, yet make the soil extraordinarily fertile, enriched with the yellow silt that gives the river its name and hue.

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