Lunar New Year of the Hare February 3, 2011

Filed under: lunar new year, San Francisco — Shirley at 11:22 am on Tuesday, January 18, 2011

“Take out the papers and the trash, or you don’t get no spending cash….get all that garbage out of sight.”  Lyrics from the popular Coasters song of the 1960s, “Yakety Yak” ring true among Asians throughout the world starting a week before February 3.  The Tiger retires for a 12-year hibernation.  The Hare arrives to rule the new lunar year 4709.   It is a tradition to begin a new year with a squeaky clean home, to sweep away negative forces.  Disagreements are placed on hill and conversations are upbeat.  All bills are paid and everyone looks forward to a new and fresh start.

Sun Neen Fy Lok translates to “Happy New Year” in Cantonese, and Gung Hay Fot Choy translate to “Wishes for Prosperity.”  The Lunar New Year is celebrated on the first day of the First Moon of the lunar calendar, so each “new year day” is different.  This is the biggest holiday of the year, a combination of Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled up with a bit of Mardi Gras.  Years of history, tradition and respect come into play.  We are not just out to party although it appears that way to some observers.  (Read on …)

Oahu, HI: More Eats, December, 2010

Filed under: Hawaii, restaurants, travel — Shirley at 3:45 pm on Monday, January 17, 2011

What a way to end 2010:  to Hawaii one more time.  I am happy to travel there several times a year, and always look forward to new cultural and food experiences.  My December 4th to 7th trip was all about food.

In addition to spending a fabulous time at the luxe Waikiki EDITION hotel and having one of the best meals of my life at the MORIMOTO Waikiki (see previous posts,) I managed to try several eateries new to me.   After breakfast one day, I met up with my friend Nathan.  We would have gone to more places to eat if I did not have to go to dinner at 5:30 p.m.    (Read on …)

Waikiki Edition and Morimoto Waikiki

Filed under: Hawaii — Shirley at 1:51 pm on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

December 2010

Aloha! What a great way to end the year.  Hawaii is dear to my heart.  I find great joy in the unique attractions of each island.  Over the last 25 years I have watched Oahu-Waikiki evolve in hotels, resorts, restaurants and shopping opportunities, while the island’s natural history and beach scenes remain constants.  My whirlwind 5 days, 4 nights in Oahu was filled with new hotel and restaurant experiences.  I spent time at the very popular KCC - Kapiolani Community College’s Farmers Market, 4355 Diamond Head Rd, and shared a delightful on-the-spot picnic with new writer friends.

1775 Ala Moana Blvd
Honolulu, HI  96815

Since my last visit to Oahu in February, 2010, the much anticipated Waikiki Edition opened its doors to the delight of discriminating guests and locals.

The Waikiki Edition is a creation of Ian Schrager, the genius behind the first boutique hotels…think Mondrian in Los Angeles, the Clift in San Francisco. The Waikiki Edition is located in the heart of the resort area on Ala Moana Blvd and Hobson Lane.  It is close to the center of Honolulu but secluded from the noise of the main drag.  A five minutes stroll in one direction leads you to the popular Ala Moana Shopping Center; in the other direction to the ever-expanding ROYAL HAWAIIAN SHOPPING CENTER.  Not far away are top tourist attractions:  Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, beaches, surfing, restaurants, and more shopping.  (Read on …)


Filed under: Uncategorized, Michigan — Shirley at 1:06 pm on Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The next morning, I didn’t even attempt to find the hotel coffee shop. It’s one thing for me to get hopelessly lost in a circular labyrinth. As a recidivist Chinese driver, I accept it.
Not Wro, and it’s too embarrassing to walk through a hotel trying to reason with a bi-polar honeybear in a manic phase.
We took a connecting elevator to the street level lobby of the Marriott and then transferred to a taxi headed for Eastern Market. This is the nation’s largest farmers market (43 acres) and the oldest (founded 1841). It’s also one of the finest fresh flower markets in the USA.  On football Sundays, it is perhaps the best tailgating venue in America. The other six days, it works — like a Carl Sandburg city of broad shoulders. (Read on …)

Detroit, MI: Where Eating is a Big, Wonderful World, Part 1

Filed under: Michigan — Shirley at 12:36 pm on Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Detroit:  Where Eating is a Big, Wonderful World
When it comes to traavel, my flirtatious honeybear Wro and I are old-fashioned.  We believe that travel should open your eyes without transforming your personality.  Or, as Wro puts it, “When in Rome, eat the cannoli, leave the gun.”
Detroit is our kind of town - a broad-shouldered confederation of ethnic neighborhoods.  In the heydays of American auto making, the neighborhoods were defined by their cars, as ethnic groups identified with the companies most likely to employ them.
The largest-in-the-nation Middle Eastern population is centered in Dearborn’s Ford country.  Many Caribbeans and African-Americans followed jobs to Detroit’s Clark Street Cadillac plant.  The left wing Polish community of Hamtramck was “more Dodge than Democrat.”  All are multicultural now and the great-grandchildren of the early assembly line workers are as apt to buy Japanese imports as company cars.  But the bygone city of historic neighborhoods can still be distinguished in the culinary traditions those immigrant workers carried here some six or seven decades ago.  (Read on …)

Japanese food on Potrero Hill

Filed under: restaurants, San Francisco — Shirley at 6:54 pm on Monday, November 8, 2010

ROCKETFISH Japanese Tapistro and Lounge - POTRERO HILL
1469 18th St., corner of Connecticut St

Hours: Monday-Friday from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5:00 p.m. -10:00 p.m. and Friday -Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

A hip new find in the food world is Rocketfish Japanese Tapistro and Lounge, located in the Potrero Hill neighborhood.  Years ago I taught private cooking classes in a home on Rhode Island St. and I recall my instant attraction to this area.  It is San Francisco without any hustle bustle.  No car?  No problem.  Take the MUNI from downtown to enjoy this area, surrounded by Third, 16th, Cesar Chavez and Potrero.  Its main restaurant, club and shopping scene is located on 18th between Texas and Connecticut. (Read on …)

Restaurant special events - August 2010

Filed under: restaurants, Where to eat — Shirley at 7:12 am on Monday, August 9, 2010

Take a drive to Oakland, San Mateo, or stay in San Francisco for these restaurant specials!
Ozumo Oakland to Participate in Block Party & Back to School Fundraiser

2251 Broadway (510) 286-9866

On Saturday, August 28 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., Ozumo Restaurant, along with Luka’s, Picán and Era, will be hosting an Uptown Block Party & Back to School Fundraiser for the Oakland public schools. For a $20 donation, party goers receive a complimentary cocktail at each dining spot and access to food specials offered that night, including a Sushi Sampler at Ozumo, Southern barbecue at Picán, and one dollar oysters at Luka’s.  (Read on …)

Ring in the Year of the Tiger… The New Mexican

Filed under: Stories about Wok Wiz — Shirley at 7:52 am on Friday, July 30, 2010

Ring in the Year of the Tiger with symbolic fare

Kathy Pinto | For The New Mexican
Posted: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 –

According to the traditional Chinese calendar, Saturday is when the Chinese ring out the Year of the Ox and ring in the Year of the Tiger. Based on a lunar cycle, the traditional Chinese calendar follows the regular appearance of the full moon; hence it will be the year 4708. Like Christmas in the West, it is the biggest holiday in China — a time spent with family and celebrated with foods symbolizing prosperity.

The food most closely associated with the Chinese New Year are jiaozi, or dumplings, symbolic of wealth and prosperity because of their resemblance to ancient Chinese money — the silver ingot. Families traditionally spend New Year’s Eve together preparing these dumplings, which are eaten at midnight: the dumpling wrapper representing the family as a whole and the filling symbolizing members of the family. (Read on …)

Monterey, CA “Sicily of the Seven Seas”

Filed under: travel, Monterey, California — Shirley at 12:03 pm on Saturday, July 24, 2010

Monterey - Sicily of the Seven Seas
Sardine Dreams with Flipper Song

“Cannery Row is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.” John Steinbeck

Like many baby boomers, I read John Steinbeck in junior high school, which is now known as middle school. That’s not all the only thing that changed. During my lifetime, California truly became the “Golden State,” the place where American dreams came true. With its hallowed golf courses and artsy beach communities with movie star mayors, Steinbeck’s stomping grounds in Monterey Bay became the personification of such dreams. Yet Steinbeck’s books were always there to remind me that such prosperity was built on backs of our ancestors‘ hard struggles. (Read on …)

Wok Wiz: San Francisco’s Happiest Tour Guide

Filed under: Stories about Wok Wiz — Shirley at 11:38 am on Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Wok Wiz: San Francisco’s Happiest Guide


By Rebecca McCormick • Special to The News-Star • July 18, 2010


Last year, included San Francisco as the only North American city on their list of “The World’s Happiest Cities.”

Citing “urban centers closely associated with unmitigated joy,” the magazine editors may well have based their decision largely on one unofficial San Francisco ambassador: Shirley Fong-Torres, better known as The Wok Wiz in tourism and culinary circles.


I first met Shirley several years ago while standing among tourists at The Tennessee River Freshwater Pearl Farm — America’s only site for freshwater culturing. While everybody waited to take pictures of a diver climbing out of the oyster pit, Shirley was the one cracking jokes. (Read on …)

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