Category Archives: California

Golden Gate Bakery

Sugar and I don’t get along, so I rarely seek out desserts. There is one though that I’m able to tolerate and oddly, that is the Chinese egg tart. The filling is a little bit sweet but teeters on savoury, the consistency is a little lighter than a custard, the crust is of the standard buttery, crunchy variety. Growing up I snacked on these whenever I wandered through Chinatown, so I drug my travel mates up the Grant Ave. hill from Union Square to seek one out at what is arguably the best source, Golden Gate Bakery.

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Its not much from the street, small and innocuous, but inside almost all of the requisite Chinese baked goods are crammed into cases hidden behind the constant crowds of people yelling in Chinese, pointing maniacally at items and  holding up counts with their fingers.

My travel mates were not so impressed with the taste of egg tarts, however they did like the red bean cakes, which were waay too sweet for me.

If you happen to find yourself wandering through San Francisco’s Chinatown in the mood for something a little sweet, pop by and grab an egg tart at GG Bakery; just tell yourself  you’ll need the carbs to make it up and down the hills.

Snack: September 2014

Golden Gate Bakery | 1029 Grant | SF 94133


Grandview Park

You’ve figured out the maze of Muni subways and boarded the N-Judah westbound to 16th Ave. You’ve located the small staircase seemingly innocuous from afar but on closer inspection you realized there was some serious artistic talent applied. You’ve climbed the hundreds upon hundreds of tiny steps in the sleepy residential neighbourhood to finally reach the top.

Super. Now what?

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Its not often in San Francisco you can view the Bay, the Pacific, Twin Peaks, TransAmerica Pyramid, Golden Gate Park and Golden Gate Bridge by merely turning your head. I think the last time I did that I was coming in for a landing at SFO. The tiny horizontal swatch of green in the upper left and lower right, that’s Golden Gate Park.

16th Ave Mosiac Steps

I’m still impressed with the many things I didn’t see and do while living in San Francisco. I never once visited the Inner Sunset District; no reason I suppose except that I didn’t know anyone who lived there.

The community in this area decided to take several sets of otherwise dull concrete steps and turn them into something artistic. Its a beautiful addition, somewhat distracting the viewer from the unmentionable number of stairs to climb to get to the top. What’s at the top? The little-known Grandview Park. There isn’t much there – a few benches, a few big trees, a well-worn dirt path. Oh, and what is arguably the best 360 degree view of the city.

I highly recommend the short jaunt on the N-Judah train to 16th Ave to see and navigate the steps to the top of Grandview Park. Yes, I will post some Grandview scenes next.

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San Francisco : Closing Credits

I was going to write more separate posts about SF trip , but it will be a busy week with even more things to post. Here are some photos of other things we enjoyed from our trip.

From Upper Left Clockwise: Exploratorium, Sunset @ Ocean Beach, PIE, Niece.

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Exploratorium is a hands-on science based museum. You might think this venue is just for kids. So very, very wrong. Yes, it might be geared toward tween and younger but I saw teens, adults, grandparents all equally interacting and enjoying. Niece and I spent 4 hours here and that was just a survey trip.

Sunset at Ocean Beach. It didn’t appeal to me on paper as much as niece but once I got there I think I enjoyed running up and down sand dunes more than she did. It was also nice to prove, yet again, that the Pacific Ocean is unbearably cold in these latitudes.

PIE! We walked past Green Chile Kitchen with their big-ass PIE sign dozens of times in our week staying in the Castro. One day we stopped and split a slice of  their Apple & Hatch Chile Pie with Cheddar Cheese Crust and Ancho-Honey drizzle. I don’t usually eat pie but I managed to distract niece a few times to take bigger bites. Odd combo when you hear it but it is truly delicious.

Niece. People who know me know I don’t post photos of myself or anyone I know. If I wanted to do that I would not have deleted my FB account years ago. Usually, but this is an exception. Niece is still in high school but she has decided to become a forensic neuro-psychologist.  Specifically, she wants to study the psychology and neuroscience related to serial killers. This doesn’t seem to be a passing fad, like when she was 11 and wanted to be the president. Shes already looking at undergrad programs to help her get into the right graduate program so she can go to work at the FBI. Hence the tour of UC Berkeley. Yeah, Cal might be a good stepping stone.

Gecko Gecko

Gecko1After taking niece on a tour of UC Berkeley, we wandered through the rest of the city so she could get a feel for the ‘interesting’ lifestyle of the city. Aside from the rank homeless park and the constant smell of weed, she liked it. One aspect that appealed to her, being a life-long vegetarian, was that there’s no need to seek out vegetarian restaurants specifically, since it seemed they all catered to vegetarians.


I’m not sure if Gecko Gecko existed back in the days I was an undergrad, probably not. It’s a small shotgun restaurant just a few block west of campus. All windows, tastefully decorated, calming but fantastically busy, mostly with students queuing up for takeaway.


For me Thai for is either really good or really bad; balancing the sweet, salty and sour is key. Often I find Thai food to be disgustingly sweet however at Gecko, they have the balance.

Curried Potato Puffs : These appealed after 7 miles of campus and city tour. I’d like to compare them to samosas but the casing was more like a croissant. The filling exploded with turmeric, cumin and a dash of hot pepper. Two sauces accompanied; peanut and sweet-hot Thai chili. Niece liked these so much she got an additional order after our mains.

Pumpkin Panang Curry : Since I was on a mostly vegetarian kick, I ordered the Panang Curry with pumpkin instead of beef. It was a good call. A good balance of coconut milk, ginger, soy, fish sauce, tomato and cumin on the initial taste, following up with a little hot pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg. The pumpkin was chunked up big but fork tender. This was a milder than normal version of Panang but the subtle flavour of pumpkin would have been lost with more heat.

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There was a bit of pressure to take the second order of Curried Potato Puffs to go. Or maybe it was just a misunderstanding. In either case, the service here is surprisingly fast considering the large queue of takeaway which does not seem to dissipate even following lunch rush. Also, since niece is a militant vegetarian, the server was very helpful in making sure there were NO animal-based products in her lunch.


Reasonable, generally. Inexpensive for CA. Puffs $8, Curry $8.50

Lunch: April 2014

Gecko Gecko | 2101 Milvia | Berkeley, CA 94704

Golden Gate Park

After a long day of walking the campus at UC Berkeley, riding cable cars and viewing the Bay from the piers, niece and I decided to see the sun set from Ocean Beach. Since Golden Gate Park was on the way we did a quick 5 mile walk through.

Like the Golden Gate Bridge and Grace Cathedral, the park was never something I wanted to see when I lived there but I’m glad I caught up a bit on what it has to offer.

We are still wondering how the bison arrived in Golden Gate Park.

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Grace Cathedral

I took niece on a quick spin about Chinatown. Quick because we were actually quite bored with the area. Plus we were annoyed with having dim sum flyers jammed in our faces at every corner – ‘Chinese dim sum, yummy, you like’. I was under the impression this type of ghetto advertising stopped working in 1985. Maybe I was wrong?

Hooking westbound on California St, I drug niece up, up, up to the Top of the Mark. She complained about the ascent, understandably. While at the top we wandered through Grace Cathedral, which also never appealed when I lived in the city. Its a beautiful church on its own, however it had been enhanced by a textile installation.

Aunt in Austin, a wicked textile artist herself, was so kind to text me info on the artist, Anne Patterson. The installation is coming down early May in case you want to pop by.

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