Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Late teatime at the AA Bakery (永興餅家茶餐廳) on Stockton Street (市德頓街). Then, pipe filled with Sam Gawith's St. James Flake, down to my bank on Grant. After withdrawing some cash I went around the corner and strolled up Becket Street (白話轉街), greeting an elderly gentleman resting there, and on to Jackson (昃臣街).
Noticed that the American Chinese woman who finds my pronunciation difficult to understand was serving at the chop house (新蘭亭) on the corner. Further down Jackson the transformation of the old ABC restaurant (ABC大餐廳) to something expensive and not meant for the local Cantonese was almost complete.
The neighborhood is changing, alas.

The pipe gave me intense pleasure at this point, the smooth slightly spicy tobacco having reached perfect cruising level. Around forty five minutes after lighting up I was tapping out the ashes at Sue Bierman Park, while the wild parrots flitted about and racketed. After enjoying their cheerful noise for a while, I boarded a bus and headed home. An enjoyable tea time.


AA Bakery: excellent cakes and pastries, particularly the egg tart and the flaky charsiu turnovers, What I had was a ham and pork floss bun. St. James Flake: an excellent mostly blonde compound of Virginias with a modicum of Perique; too much for Perique haters probably.
St. James Flake is a good summer tobacco.
My Bank: same bank for several years, three different names during that time due to mergers.
The American Chinese Woman who ... : her first language is English with that slight Chinatown twang, her second is Toishanese. She believes that what I speak must, logically, be Mandarin. Which it isn't.
Though I can understand Toisan a little, I can't speak it.
The ABC Restaurant: the new owners are dolling the interior up all fancy, the new menu betrays a Szechuanese influence in buckets. Local people will be apathetic, but obviously it isn't for them. There are a number of other glossy Szechy-style restaurants in C'town now, with dishes that appeal to white folks, tourists, and snooty Mandarin-only mainlanders.
Their attitudes (and prices) are rather off-putting.
I do not go to those places.


Uncle's on Waverly and Clay, in their final iteration closed three years ago. For a long time it had been a lunch counter and bakery with good pies, and endless coffee. It's now a Szechuan something-or-other.
Sun Wah Kue Restaurant, on the corner of Washington Street and Ross Alley, had an orange chiffon pie which no one else does and many people fondly remember, as well as chops, ox tail, and the best waffles. Many old timers fondly remember the waffles. Booth seating, and a side door. Baked goods, daily lunch specials. A great place to dawdle over coffee and pastry on a rainy afternoon. The interior was formica, and plain white paint over wood, yellowed a bit and softened by the years.
New King Tin further down closed after a run of half a century, the restaurant that went in was a chachanteng which is now also gone.
Golden Dragon Barbecue on the upper corner of Washington Street and Waverly became a shop selling tacky souvenirs, and is now a discounter of large porcelain whatchamacallits.
Sun Hung Heung below Grant Avenue became a restaurant which in big bold characters (川味) tells the local people that they should not go there, Szechuan Taste! It caters entirely to gullible tourists and visiting provincials, and from what I hear the food and service are frighteningly awful.
Once upon a time there was delicious suckling pig.
Silver Restaurant changed hands and name, the food is decent, nice people work there, and they are open till ten.
Nam Yuen has been an empty building for over two decades.

Tao Tao Restaurant (陶陶茶樓), named after a famous dining spot in Hangchow (杭州), had existed since the very early thirties; the exterior recalled an elegant multistoried mansion in the Chinese style. It shut down a generation ago, and the paint-peeling building housed a bookstore and pop-music emporium for a while. It is now a general services centre, offering translation, tax prep, marriage introduction, job placement, immigration help, official forms, etcetera, while Woey Loy Goey (會來居) next door in the basement changed ownership and Chinese name, and hasn't served prime rib or beefsteak for an exceedingly long time.

New Moon Restaurant: changed hands at the beginning of the year, the Chinese name is different now, the roast ducks, barbecued pork, and hanging chickens are a glorious memory. The duck was that good.
It was delicious. I should have gone more often.
I wonder what happened to the people.
Empress of China Restaurant: closed in 2014.
New Lotus Garden: long time gone.

That place where I got a monumental MSG headache is also past tense.

Ping Yuen Bakery on Jackson closed very many years ago, and is sorely missed. Endless coffee, open til nine, a very long counter at which a single man could sit after work doing crossword puzzles before going to the Great Star Theater a few doors down for a gangster movie. The Shanghainese noodle place is gone. The DPD is gone. You can't get those lovely pastries and dumplings at Yong Kee Rice Noodle Co. up the street anymore, they finally quit after three generations. Preserved egg in a flaky puff-crust, chicken buns, and Toishan daai bau.

Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of the place which served 'rice paddy chicken'. They brought them out for us to choose, and one them hopped out of the basket, then sat staring at us with big placid eyes.


All of the movie theatres are gone, of course.

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