Re-Introducing Chinatown Diaries


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In May 2011, when I was the restaurant critic for the SF Weekly, I began a project that had fluttered around the edges of my imagination for a long time: eating my way through San Francisco’s Chinatown. Historically, Chinatown’s cultural influence is gigantic, and the neighborhood remains packed with restaurants, shops, and people. But English-language publications pass over all but a few restaurants.

Inspired by MSG150 — a group of coworkers in Seattle who ate their way around the International District, one lunch at a time — I started Rice Plate Journal on the Weekly‘s food blog. My goal: to canvass San Francisco Chinatown, block by block, rice plate by rice plate, eating at every single restaurant, bakery, and food shop there. Within a couple of meals it became clear that I only need write about places where the quality is mediocre at its worst. (Yes, there is some disgusting food in Chinatown.)

In April 2012, I left the SF Weekly, but the desire to see the project through to its completion remained strong. And so, welcome to Chinatown Diaries. In the first few blog posts, I will catalog my previous Rice Plate Journal posts, and then begin again where I left off: at the corner of Washington and Grant. You can look over those catalogued posts by street or use the Google map (pictured above) to locate restaurants by location and read my reports.

For more information on Chinatown restaurants, past and present, you may want to pick up a copy of Shirley Fong-Torres’s wonderful book The Woman Who Ate Chinatown: A San Francisco Odyssey. And of course, if you have any questions, corrections, or (especially) recommendations, email me at jonathanekauffman {at} gmail.