Every year or so there is a pilgrimage to be made to Chinatown in San Francisco. The travel photographer in me loves to go there to make photographs of this most contrast-y of neighborhoods in The City – and I needed to update my Chinatown stock portfolio. My images from there are a mix of touristy storefronts and grungy back alleys, really great restaurants and holes in the wall, bars and tarot card readers, tea houses and temples.
After spending some time wandering both the main street of Grant as well as the alleys hidden in the neighborhood, I was beginning to wear out. Lunch was called for.
On the edge of Chinatown the House of Nanking sits tucked between a dumpling restaurant and a liquor store on Kearny. Not really so much tucked these days as it has its own parklet, which makes it seem a bit bigger and noticeable, so it’s not so difficult to find, but it is off the main streets of Grant or Columbus.
The House Of Nanking has been a mainstay in San Francisco since 1988 when Peter and Lily Fang invested in themselves and created the restaurant. The food started out being from Shanghai, but has since taken on its own sort of flavor with Peter’s experimentation in the kitchen. Its many mentions in local folklore, from Herb Caen’s newspaper column to pop culture of The Matrix films, as well as sitting across the street from The Sentinel Building where Zoetrope has a few offices, has made it a bit of legend.
Arriving at the restaurant well after lunch, it was full of choice seating. I sat by the window, to watch the world go by, and ordered up one of my favorite dishes these days – Eggplant with Tofu in Spicy Chili sauce ($16.95 + $3 for the Tofu and $3 for the Rice). As a single person, I just can’t order a lot of food to try out for my writings. But this dish was perfect. The eggplant was fresh and *not* soggy, the tofu was crispy and the sauce was really good. I slowly ate my fill and had very little to take home for a late evening snack.
Watching out the window for a little while longer, waiting for the light to change a little, I finally gathered my things for the second half of my photography walk through the neighborhood.
HOUSE OF NANKING
919 Kearny Street
San Francisco, California
You can find more images from my simple lunch in the California Stock Image Gallery.