About a year ago, my Doctors convinced me that I couldn’t go through life without breaking a sweat and that routine exercise would help to mitigate the aging baby boomer afflictions I deal with. My nagging Doctors finally prevailed and I joined the San Francisco YMCA in Chinatown. The Chinatown YMCA is located about 3 blocks from my apartment on Sacramento Street between Stockton and Grant.
Some say that Stockton Street is the real Chinatown for this street is lined with markets for vegetables, roasted and barbecued meats, fresh seafood and all kinds of other dried things that I am at a loss to explain.
Grant Street, on the other hand, is where the Chinatown Gate is and along Grant are all manner of souvenir, clothing and jewelry shops selling inexpensive jade. Grant intersects with California Street where the Cable Car runs whereas Stockton passes under California Street through the tunnel. Grant Street has a much higher concentration of tourist strolling along for these and other reasons.
I try to get to the YMCA three days a week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. On workdays I go early usually arriving around 6:30 AM so I can return home and dress for work. Weekends and non-work days are another story. I go in the late morning around 10:30 AM so that when I finish I can wander Chinatown in search of a perfect bowl of noodle or Wun Tun soup.
Thursday, New Year’s Eve, was a day off for me. So I procrastinated and finished at the YMCA about 12:30 PM. I wandered past Portsmouth Square where older Chinese men, women and children gather daily to socialize, watch children play and some do a little Tai Chi.
Groups of men can be seen playing and watching some variant of checkers. One group of women gathers and plays cards.
Speaking of the perfect bowl of noodle soup, one of the restaurants on my rotation is House of Xian Dumpling. This is one of two Xian restaurants that have recently opened in San Francisco. Xian is where the famous Terracotta Warriors are located in China.
In the not too distant past, I regularly flew transpacific to many destinations in Asia. For a while I was in Hong Kong on a monthly basis. Most long haul flights from the U.S. west coast arrive in the late afternoon / early evening. We – my colleagues and me – stayed at the same hotel every visit. After arriving and refreshing, we would join each other for a light meal before going to bed and dealing with massive jet lag. My go-to order was Pork Chop Noodle Soup.
House of Xian Dumpling is the first Chinatown restaurant that I have been to that offers Pork Chop Noodle Soup as a menu item. It consists simply of broth (I should say great broth), a fried pork chop, bok choy and noodles. In the case of HXD, the noodles are hand-made and excellent. The HKD version satisfies the cravings I have when I remember arriving in Hong Kong after a long haul flight.
This restaurant is a work in progress and the reviews on Yelp are accurate – great food, slow service. But, I think they are getting it together. When the restaurant gets a beer/wine license so I can enjoy a Tsingtao with lunch, I’ll be even happier.
House of Xian Dumpling in San Francisco is located at 525 Kearny Street.