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On The Scene - Rounding Out the Old and Bringing in the New Year


Tastebud Tours Guide Jim Woods shows historic church to Justin Matsuura, 
Braden and Garrett Wong.

By Gerrye Wong  January 2016
End of year holiday times
are eagerly looked forward to by me because it is a time to remember old friends, and renew friendships of long ago through Christmas card letters filled with news and reunion times with family members upholding family traditions.   When my five grandkids returned from their college campuses for two weeks, we took advantage of many wonderful experiences the Greater Bay Area offers, which I’d like to share with you. 

XOX Chocolate owner
Jean Marc demonstrates making truffles to Justin Matsuura, Bradenand Garrett Wong. 
A Taste of North Beach Food Tour, presented by Tastebud Tours was a good way to learn some local San Francisco history of its Little Italy neighborhood while being introduced to some special Italian dishes.  Guide Jim Woods met us at The Italian homemade Companywhich served us handmade gnocchi, one of the many delicacies from the Marche regions of Italy. From there we moved on to XOX Chocolate where we watched firsthand truffle making by owner Jean-Marc Gorce, who was recently named one of the top chocolate makers in the country.  Unfortunately large lines prevented us from entering Tony’s Pizza Napoletana to see 11 time World Champion Tony Gemignani  show his pizza dough- throwing feats, but we did get to taste his famous pizza across the street in Washington Square park. I found this to be a big disappointment as I really think that would have been the highlight of the tour and should definitely be included for future patrons.  The three-hour tour did include feeding us cannoli at A Cavalli Café, a delicious tiramisu at Caffe Grecco,  and  a tricolore taste of Italy with different pastas in red, white and green, the colors of the Italian flag, at Mona Lisa Café.  The tidbits of history Woods shared were a special treat to the tour, and our family of eight all agreed this was a wonderful family experience to recommend to tourists and native alike to San Francisco.  Check out this new Tastebud Tours offering in San Francisco:  www.tastebudtours.com

Wong family gets Tony’s Pizza on North Beach Food Tour.
There was no better way to have an exciting Christmas Day than to spend it in Oracle Arena watching Oakland’s iconic Golden State Warriors Basketball team in action. So sonMike Wong sacrificed his tickets, gifting them to sons Garrett and Braden, and good Grandma Gerrye sent very happy sports enthusiastic grandsons Todd and Justin Matsuura to report on the game for me. Here are some of their memories Justin reported:  “A first impression I noticed upon being welcomed by Corporate Communications Assistant, Massimo Degaudenzi , was the spirit of the fans with the majority wearingStephen Curry #30 jerseys, old-school jerseys or Warriors championship apparel.   For the best experience, I suggest taking your kids (or treat the little kid inside of you too!) to watch Curry perform his pregame shot routine, starting with his two-ball dribbling drills and ending with signing autographs to delight fans at the edge of the tunnel leading back to the dressing rooms.  I was glad to arrive at Oracle two hours before game time  so that when security opened the gates an hour and half before game time, we found good seats on the Warriors side of the court to see the pregame warm ups by the team, “ reported Justin.

Warriors champion Stephen Curry at pregame warm up practice with assistant coach.
  On another game night when I got to see this championship team play against the Sacramento Kings, I must agree that watching the entire Golden State Warriors  team go about their business in pregame as well as watching them in the actual game work as a team is both exciting and awe-inspiring.  Every time Stephen Curry put up a shot from the arc, the crowd’s inhale is actually audible, and the subsequent make or miss either results in a standing uproar or groan of disappointment. Jim Morrison, sports writer of the River News-Herald & isleton Journal sitting next to me heartily agreed this is championship play not to be missed.   When these wonderful Warriors players as a team are locked-in and executing an offense, you can’t help but celebrate with the thousands of other rambunctious people in the area dubbed “Roaracle” by all of us fans.   Win or lose, up or down, it’s an exciting experience to watch this championship team, so make it a 2016 event of  the year to go to!

Gerrye Wong is excited to be standing near Stephen Curry during pregame warmup time.

OCA-San Mateo (Organization of Chinese Americans) held a festive holiday dinner at thePoplar Creek Golf Course Ballroom with Santa for the kids and interesting keynote speaker, George Koo, for the adults, who gave his views on the present state of China’s economy and growth.  A well-known expert on issues relating to Chinese Americans and to U.S.-China relations, his talk was well received at this event organized by members Chris Bush, John Lau and President Melodie Lew.  A 2016 program coming up in the next two months is its premier “Speak and lead with Pride program, which is a hands-on course designed to teach the art of public speaking and leadership skills to high school students.  Attendants are high school students who identify as Asian Americans by committing to 6 Saturday classes and a final speech competition.  David Chai has been the leader in this program, which I think is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn a  most valuable tool for future careers.  Info: www.ocasanmateo.orgspeakandlead/

OCA-SM Board members Michele Lew and John Lau, right, welcome guest speaker George Koo, standing left Gerrye Wong.

Speak and Lead Program graduate Andrew Soohoo, left at OCA-SM event with mother Laurie, grandmother Noreen, Gerrye Wong and Joyce Chan.
Congratulations to the recent University of San Francisco graduate Taylor Chen who was heralded by friends and family at her San Jose home with a gala graduation party.  Parents Dennis and Lynette Chen flew in from Taiwan, and granduncle Donald and Aunt Daisy Wong with cousin Rachelle & Don Fahrney came from Fresno, CA.  Other celebrants included grandparents Carolyn and Tom Jow, and Taylor’s brother Ryan, who had also recently graduated from the University of Santa Clara earlier in the year.

Taylor Chen, seated 2nd left, is surrounded by family at her graduation party from
University of San Francisco.
San Francisco SymphonyChristmas programs were wonderful this year for children as well as adults.  A favorite was Colors of Christmas, which sadly was presenting its last show after 30 years, with Peabo Bryson as the continuing headliner who shared the stagewith Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.  this year.  Enjoying other San Francisco Symphony Xmas concerts  such as a Charlie Brown Christmas and Broadway Christmaswere the Ken Trans, Howard Setos, Gerry Hines, John Kaos and Tom Tanabe.

Bay Area music enthusiasts  enjoy San Francisco Christmas 
concerts, and seeing SF City Hall in the background lighted up in green and red colors.
Another fun way to celebrate Christmas vacation with the children was the Niles Canyon Holiday Train Ride with Santa which the Jim Yamaguchi Family say is a family tradition for their family annually.    Silicon Valley’s Foon Hay Chinese Seniors Golf Club at their annual Christmas party installed their new 2016 officers.  Set to lead the club are new officers President Sheila lee, Vice President Phoebe Choy, Secretary Damon Kong, Treasurer Karen Chew, Tournament Chairs Victor Ip and Francis Wong, Directors Tom Hubbs, Klara Cheung and Webmaster Clarence Bakken.

Jim and Carole Yamaguchi enjoy Niles Canyon Christmas Train ride with grandchildren.
Wonderful news from Betty Louie and theChinatown in the Future Summit is that the street beautification project has brought in the installation of a Terra Cotta mural alongwith Terra Cotta Warriors at the corner of Clay and Grant Avenues.  Better news fromCynthia Yee is that starting in January, the filming of a Bruce Lee film will be shot inChinatown itself.  She heard that the Hollywood set will be using solar lighting in the lanterns lining the street which will give it an updated look. Betty Louie, who has been very proactive in renovatingChinatown to make it more appealing to the large tourist grade that comes to San Francisco, also shared that Abby Chen and Mabel Teng of the Chinese Culture Center have created an art “crawl” in the neighborhood which would take people to various murals and images in Chinatown and present Chinese history to the tourists.   During the summer, Waverly’s Street’s Utopia Café opened up its Dragon Den to host music from The Cuba Band and Andrea Home, which brought in people, who claimed they had not ever been to Chinatown before.

Chinese American families and friends continue Christmas reunion traditions.
Betty also shared about  a brand new restaurant that will open in the old Four Seas locale which will be called Mister Jiu’s hopefully in February around the Chinese New year, with specialties by well-known San Francisco chef Brandon Jiu.  Coming up which I want to be the first to join, is a Cynthia Yee-led tour calledChinatown Murder Mystery Tour which sounds like fun, intrigue and a different way to present Chinese American history of San Francisco’s Chinatown to newcomers to the city.  Steven Lee shared that the old Sam WoRestaurant, so well known in the 40s-80s restaurant scene, has now been resurrected in a new location at 713 Clay Street, near Kearny, and welcomes all who remember the “dumbwaiter” that used to carry the food from downstairs  to the top floors.  Long known as the oldest and most colorful of Chinatown’s restaurants when it opened one hundred years ago, the restaurant welcomes old friends and new ones too to try its specialty of “glueing fun” with its convenience for theater goers who are looking for an old sieu yeh place late in the evening.   Great news Betty Louie, Cynthia yee and Steven Lee  -- thanks for bringing San Francisco’s Chinatown to life again for the betterment of  the community.

Silicon Valley  organization friends  greet  the new year in festive fashion.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Wong Family