Spending more time in Chinatown

A color photograph of a Chinese restaurant with Chinese text on the windows, and an Asian couple walking in front of it

Photo taken on Rollei QZ 35T, Ektar 100, developed and scanned by Underdog Film Lab.

For whatever reason, I’ve been going to Chinatown in San Francisco more often. I don’t particularly love the restaurants there (a few faves, but that’s it), but it is convenient to go there when I want to pick up certain groceries.

When I want the Malaysian instant coffee I desperately miss (Chek Hup brand from Ipoh), the only place I’ve seen in the city that carries it consistently is Sun Kau Shing Co. (The older people who work there speak Chiu Chow / Teochew, if that’s also what you speak, like me.)

Nearly all of the snacks I grew up eating, and more, at Pang Kee Bargain Market.

The freshest tofu at Wo Chong (look at the glass cabinet by the counter, not in the fridge.. get literally anything there).

The best deal on hotpot supplies (everything from hotpot soup base to the best quality beef and lamb, homemade fish paste, all the sausages and tofus and noodles you need, even the hotpot) at Gold Coin Trading.

When my mother was visiting, she also loved Mow Lee Shing Kee, a local SF Chinatown lap mei business that has been preserving meats the traditional way for the last 150 years. I never had this quality of Chinese meats until I came to California: many people have been doing it in old school ways for the last 100 to 200 years, whereas I’ve only had very commercially made Chinese meats in modern Asia. (SoCal has a few really good stores, too.) Try their duck liver sausage. If you’ve had lap cheung in the past and not liked it (Chinese sausages), I guarantee that the ones from here are.. different. The difference between a Chinese sausage from here and one made in a factory, is an even wider delta than say, an artisanal Italian sausage and an American factory made sausage. I am a big fan of this place.

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Adrianna Tan @skinnylatte
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