Thursday, July 2, 2009

Tutmania and The Secret Chinatown!

San Francisco is crazy over King Tut right now! Last Saturday, the Tutankhamun exhibition opened at the de Young Museum. The last exhibition was 30 years ago and there were only 30 artifacts on display. Over 1 million people visited the De Young to see the exhibit in 1979. Today the exhibition has over 130 artifacts which not only includes King Tut but also his immediate family members. Judging from the crowds today, it looks like 2009 will surpass the 1979 attendance record. The lines went on forever. I felt like I was at Disneyland and this was on a Wednesday! I can't imagine how it is on the weekends!

Let me tell ya...the wait was SO worth it. I'm a self-professed Egyptophile! I have always been fascinated with Egyptian culture and civilization. For many years, I've been studying and performing folkloric and orchestral Egyptian music as well as learning different types of Egyptian dances since the age of 5 years old. I even learned how to speak, read, and write Arabic (for only 2 semesters)! Egyptian history and art was a given to truly understand the music and dance. No words can describe my excitement and amazement of this year's exhibition. I am still drooling as I type. I also liked the fact that they highlighted the importance of women in Egyptian society. Every object was beautiful, displaying intricate craftsmanship. With complexity and meaning behind every piece, I was inundated with information that sent my head into a tailspin!

My favorite piece out of them all was this gorgeous pectoral...

Pectoral with Solar/Lunar Emblem and Scarab. Dynasty 18, reign of Tutankhamun (1332-1322 BC). Gold, silver, electrum, semiprecious stones. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. Carter 267d. Photo: Kenneth Garrett © 2008/National Geographic.

If you are an Egyptophile like me, you can view this 25 minute video which shows all the artifacts on display! Warning: Don't watch if you plan on going to the exhibit.

After the de Young, I hopped on the 44 O'Shaughnessy to 6th and Clement and ate lunch at Burma Superstar. For months, while I was in Belfast my friends back home would email me raving about this place. I've never had Burmese food before and my palate was feeling adventurous. I'm in the neighborhood anyway. Why not?

They were absolutely was DAMN GOOD! Hard to describe this type of cuisine. It is kind of a cross between Indian, Chinese and Thai. I ordered their infamous Tea Leaf Salad w/ fermented tea leaves from Burma. I must admit I was hesitant to try it, fermented anything doesn't sound very appetizing to me. The fermented tea leaves weren't what I had expected at all it reminded me of gorgonzola cheese. And I like gorgonzola! Along with the seeds, beans, and garlic chips it was a party in my mouth! It was so good I licked the bowl clean. I also love the fact they explain the ingredients to newcomers and mix it at your table!

Tea leaf salad with fermented tea leaves imported from Burma

The chicken curry had the perfect amount of spice, the meat was so tender it was falling off the bone and melting in my mouth. Paired with the sweet, fragrant coconut rice, it was out of this world!

Even though this is a hangout for the tragically hip and trendy, the atmosphere was very casual, laid back, and unpretentious. The staff was very nice yet professional. I ordered a refill for my thai iced tea and my waiter said they usually charge for refills but mine was on the house. How nice was that?

I'm definitely coming here again and bringing HopAlong here next time. There are many other dishes I want to try. If you're ever visiting San Francisco, please, please, please go to this restaurant. You will not be disappointed.

After lunch, I explored Clement Street. I haven't been here in quite some time other than just going to Plough & Stars. Last I hung out here was 2 years ago. Clement is San Francisco's best kept secret. You will not see tourists running around in fanny packs here. This is the Chinatown reserved for locals.

With all the Chinese ads here you'd think you're in China

On Clement, you will find Chinese dim sum takeaways, a plethora of Asian grocers, thai, korean, hot pot noodle houses, bubble milk tea stands, ice cream parlors, coffee houses, Irish pubs (one of which is the Plough & Stars where HopAlong had a run-in the last time), Green Apple Books which has been here forever. I used to hang out here during my high school years which was ages ago...

...And Schubert's Bakery which has been in this neighborhood since 1911. Their cakes and pastries are to die for! I had the strawberry shortcake topped with fresh fruit...

There goes my diet...

Thought I'd call it a day so I hopped on the 2 Clement to go back to the Ferry Building to head home...

The solo outing was nice in that it helped me find my feet and reacquaint myself with the city again. I had fun but there were a few moments where waves of sadness hit me because I was minus one.

I want my HopAlong! :(

Bus Route Recap:
To go to the de Young from the Ferry Building, walk a couple blocks up Market Street for the 21 Hayes bus stop. Get on the 21 Hayes (with destination 8th and Fulton) and alight at 8th Avenue and Fulton Street. Walk into Golden Gate Park to the de Young. To go to Clement Street, take the 44 O'Shaugnessy at the Concourse in front of the California Academy of Sciences. Get off on 6th Avenue and Clement Street. To go back to the Ferry Building, catch the 2 Clement (destination Ferry Plaza) at any bus stop along Clement Street.

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