The Seven Hundred Thirty Dollar Lunch

I’ve been meaning to post a travelog about Rina’s visit every day but have been having too much fun to do so; however, we had an adventure of such a high order yesterday that it has to come first.

Rina and i had such a good visit with Sybil at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market on Saturday that i decided to take them to a fine dim sum lunch at Yank Sing on Tuesday.  Afterwards Rina could see Sybil’s fabulous new condo in the Millennium tower.  What could go wrong?

We drove down there well ahead of time with the idea of snapping up one of the abundant parking places between Sybil’s and the Rincon complex Yank Sing and discovered that there sure were a lot of yellow zones that wouldn’t let me park until much later.  And kept looping around and checking the fine print on the yellow zone signs until finally we spotted a non-yellow slot on Main Street.  Whew.

We walked the block over to Yank Sing with plenty of time to spare.  Sybil arrived, we were seated, and the joy of Yank Sing began.  I’m not sure i’ll ever be able to forgive them for taking the barbecued pork in pastry shell (char siu sou) 叉燒酥 off the menu, but they sure do try to compensate for that.  Now they have a dish you can’t get just everywhere, that Shanghai-style soup-filled dumpling (xiao long bao)  小籠包 that squirts soup all over the table unless you put it entirely in your mouth before chomping down.  They were utterly delicious at Yank Sing, better than at the Shanghai restaurants on Ocean Avenue that specialize in them.

And then everything else was at a similarly high level – that decadent shrimp in mayonnaise and walnuts dish that fills your mouth with three kinds of fat all at once, dry-braised green beans that were as good as i’d ever eaten, that wonderful stuffed crab claw with the sweet sauce, good paper-wrapped chicken, a delicious chunk of baked sea bass, etc, etc.

When we were totally gorged and gasping our way through the last bites as the place cleared out and the carts stopped rolling around, i asked a server if they still had left any of the egg tarts (dan tat) 蛋撻.  I got the double pleasure of her shock at hearing an old white guy say the name of this thing in understandable Cantonese and then immediately afterward by her affirmative reply.  There are only two Chinese desserts that westerners like at all, and they love this one, Rina and Sybil and i being no exception.

And then we went wobbling out to Sybil’s for the grand tour of both her condo and the gorgeous amenities offered by the Millennium, both of which impressed the socks off Rina.

Finally we walked back to the car for our return ride home, during which i’d planned to stop at Sightglass so i could show Rina that spectacular interior while buying her far finer coffee than she was accustomed to.

Umm, well, except that as we walked toward the car i noticed that along our side of the street the parking lane was now filled with buses.  And then we got to the end of the buses to our parking spot and saw that the car had been stolen.

I mean, it was right there.  Right under that sign, the one with the big red letters reading “TOW-AWAY ZONE”   Wait a minute, Main is an inbound street.  What’s a tow-away zone doing in the afternoon on an inbound street.  Tow-away zones are always inbound in the morning and outbound in the afternoon.  An exception, i now know, is Main Street, where a pack of rush hour buses queues up ready to move around the block and gorge on outbound afternoon commuters.

The last time my car was towed was in August, 1973 when my friend Dick was visiting and we sat happily drinking Irish Coffees in the Buena Vista while my Pinto was being towed off of Bay Street.  Once we discovered the car’d been towed and remembered that there was a fat roach sitting  in the open ashtray, we went straight back to the Buena Vista and had a couple more drinks to prepare for the coming ordeal.

Turned out nobody noticed the roach, but it was still a nightmare involving a cab ride across town to the Hall of Justice, where expensive justice was dispensed with agonizing slowness, followed by a longer cab ride way off somewhere to retrieve the car after another long wait.

This time it was less traumatic.  In the first place because i found my foolishness in not seeing that sign somehow hilarious and then because of getting a cab instantly at the height of rush hour.  And thanks to Rina’s suggestion that perhaps the cab driver knew where to go and my working up the nerve to ask him, we got whisked directly to a little new building under the freeway on 7th Street, where we entered, took a number, sat in comfortable seats for five minutes, and were called to a window where a young black woman, astonished to be dealing with a man who found the adventure so funny, joined our hilarity and extracted the $520 fine with maximum gentleness.

It would have been $50 less if i hadn’t been driving such a high-tech electronic marvel that it had to be carefully lifted up and plunked onto a flat bed truck for transport to the concentration camp for vehicular enemies of the state.  But it would have been a lot more if we’d fiddled around long enough for the hideously expensive storage charges to start kicking in.

After i’d paid, i remembered the awful trip to pick up the car forty years ago and asked the young woman where i had to go to get my freshly ransomed car.  She pointed, “Right out there.”  And yes, twenty feet out the side door was the concentration camp gate.  And since the papers clutched in my hand were in order, we were escorted to my freshly chastized car and i drove smoothly out of the lot.

The rest of the good news was that at that point we were only two blocks up the street from Sightglass, and we went in for lattes and a little bag of coffee that Rina couldn’t help mentioning was four times the cost of any coffee she’d ever bought.  I refrained from mentioning that i’d noticed as much when i visited her.

Feeling rather economical, we had leftovers for supper.

No pics germane to the adventure, so here’s one of the butt end of Sanchez Street.

The butt end of Sanchez Street


Oh, and for those who are doing the math, no, i did not spend two hundred dollars on lunch for three people at Yank Sing.  The extra 95 bucks was for the Notice of Delinquent Parking Violation that arrived a couple of weeks later.  The nice lady at the Hall of Justice neglected to charge me for the $95  ticket for parking in the tow-away zone.

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  1. Geo Gaile
    Posted 5 December 2013 at 14:49 | Permalink

    Matte, as usual, your storytelling is at least as rich as the story itself. Good thing or this costly tale might leave indigestion. Thanks for your ever-entertaining perspective and for transforming word smitherings into wordsmithing.

    • Matte Gray
      Posted 5 December 2013 at 15:17 | Permalink

      I was almost too embarrassed to allow such fulsome praise to appear, but finally choked down my modesty because i was so grateful to Geo, my techie, for enabling comments.

      • David
        Posted 17 December 2013 at 14:11 | Permalink

        I wondered if your Disabled placard was of any help in lowering the fine. Apparently not.

        • Matte Gray
          Posted 17 December 2013 at 14:37 | Permalink

          No help, but not that it should. My disability is not blindness, and the Tow Away sign was plainly visible. I’ve never been guiltier.

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