My grandfather used to live in the heart of Chinatown, San Francisco on Grant St before he was insisted on moving to Orlando with the rest of my family so they can take care of him in his later years. I’ve always wondered about the life he left, especially when I walk around Columbus Park in Manhattan and see the old folk playing Chinese chess, singing Chinese opera and yelling at each other. This trip to San Francisco would hopefully offer me a glimpse into that life of “gong-gong.” Chinatown San Fran was my mecca.
I read on Chinatown SF’s official tourism website that they are the largest Chinatown outside of Asia. I wonder what factors quantify that. It didn’t seem so physically large walking through it, but did have a large tourist concentration. Also the most dim sum places I’ve ever seen. One particularly caught my eye –All You Can Eat Dim Sum $5.99 at Dick Lee Pasty Shop. (look at their Angelfire website. Retro cool. So 1998.) They have a loud speaker that runs on a loop announcing the items they have on the buffet. I walked in, saw the meager selection and walked out. If I had more time in San Fran, I probably would have tried it, despite the poor reviews on Yelp. Like one reviewer notes, you’d probably be paying close to this price anyway at a decent dim sum parlor. Dim Sum is cheap.
I’m not sure I quite got a taste of the life my grandfather led in San Francisco. I’m sure times have changed. All I can think about is how all the old Chinese people walk up and down those huge hills. Is that why they’re so hunched over? I wonder if someday I’ll make my parents move to New York, so they can hang out with other old Chinese folk in Columbus Park. I would love to hang out there when I get old. It’s like partying everyday. I wonder if they’d talk behind my back in front of me because they know I don’t speak Chinese.