Dear Babe,
Chinatown, what is it good for? Anything? Seriously.
Chinatown Challenged

Dear Chinatown Challenged,
Yes yes and yes! Seriously. Where else are you going to get an expert, hour long foot reflexology massage for $45? The Foot Reflexology Center on Jackson between Grant and Kearny is the only place I know of this side of Van Ness. Picture yourself seated, feet in hot water, surrounded by large Asian business men who breathe audibly, while a master of reflexology pounds at your lower limbs. When you leave you feel like you’re walking on air.
For fun: don’t hold back the laughs when they start punching the bottoms of your feet, you can get them laughing too.

My favorite Chinese restaurant is also in Chinatown, Hunan Home’s. It’s all pink inside. They have the best pot-stickers in town. Also try their Honey Walnut Prawns, Green Bean’s a la Hunan, and the steamed bread. In the spring they serve sauteed pea shoots, and those are hard to find around town. I’ve never had the crab but it’s so fresh they hold live crabs in a tank. The owner, James, is wonderful and the food is consistently good and the staff is funny.

For fun, check out the tongs in the trash basket in the ladies’ room. It’s always there and I can’t figure out exactly what they’re for.

Chinatown also holds a bar that should not be missed when in San Francisco. The bar at the Empress of China hasn’t been changed since it’s heyday in about the early 70’s. You walk through the street entrance and are greeted by tons of photos of the owner with stars like Barbie Benton, Chuck Norris and Sammy Davis Jr. Once off the elevator, you are greeted by blue booths, waitresses in Chinese dresses, a shingle roofed bar, and a great view of San Francisco. Unfortunately they put in a big screen TV, but it’s such a great bar it’s worth overlooking. Go there to watch the sun set over North Beach. For fun: when it’s cold, go watch the fish in the outside tanks hold completely still. I’ve never eaten the food.


Nagging questions holding you back? Babe Scanlon’s got your answer. A SF native, she’s been figuring this place out far longer than she cares to admit, and now she’s ready to share. Email her at and let the veil of confusion lift. Please do keep in mind: Babe Scanlon is not presenting herself as an expert in anything that means you can sue her or the Appeal if you take her advice and your life tanks. Her recommendations are just that: recommendations.

the author

Babe Scanlon is a writer living and working in San Francisco. She's worked as an archaeologist, computer game designer, agent at Agent Provocateur and hypnotherapist. She is controlling your mind at this very moment.

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!