Fishermen’s Grotto (San Francisco): A Taste of The Old Wharf

It’s not every day that I look forward to eating at a cheeseball tourist trap.

The Fishermen’s Grotto in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, however, holds special meaning. Thirty years ago, when the sous chef was an undergrad at Stanford University, his father would breeze into town from their Iowa homestead and whisk him away to San Francisco.

There, the man would regale his son with stories of his own youth in 1950s San Francisco — and invariably, these trips would land the pair at a little place in the wharf.┬áThe old man would order a Shrimp Louis, remarking with prickly nostalgia that the pricey platter of creamy shrimp “used to cost just $3.50 back in the ’50s.” And over heaping plates of shrimp and fish, he would share the colorful stories of his bygone years.

So when the sous chef and I found ourselves in San Francisco last week, a visit to the old hangout became a must.

Battling sidewalks jammed with tourists and street artists offering to sketch our portraits, we wended our way along the breezy waterfront and found it: Fishermen’s Grotto, the very first restaurant in Fisherman’s Wharf …

Continue reading

Hong Kong: Sunday in the Sai Kung With Daphne

Sunday in Hong Kong and two sisters have nothing but empty hours and sunshine ahead of them.

The possibilities are plentiful — shall there be some dimsum? Or a lovely pork chop bun, perhaps? Because the day is beautiful, however, something outdoors becomes a must. Into a car we hop, squeezing through the city’s narrow, congested lanes, whizzing down a highway past thickets of toothpick -thin skyscrapers. Before long, there is a blur of greenery, squat shophouses, the sounds of children squealing.

As we tumble out, there is a smell. It’s the sea — and there is a vast expanse of it.

“I thought you would like Sai Kung,” Daphne says. And she is right, even if this is just the beginning.

We gather ourselves and amble on. Not so far away, a lively fish market awaits …

Continue reading