A Taste of Asia in Northern California

Cherrie helping me with my presentation.

San Francisco is one of my favorite cities, largely because of its cultural diversity. So since I had a speaking engagement there Saturday morning, I thought it would be kind of fun to take in a little of that cultural diversity in the afternoon. To that end, Charles, Cherrie and I hit the road in the morning; and after my presentation we enjoyed a little taste of Asia in the afternoon. It turned out to be the perfect day.

Since my presentation (which Cherrie helped me with) was in the Civic Center area, we planned to visit the nearby Asian Art Museum in the afternoon. And in keeping with our Asian theme, I also hoped to find an accessible Vietnamese restaurant nearby. Finding an accessible restaurant can sometimes be an iffy proposition, so I hit the internet and hoped for the best.

The Golden House Restaurant (366 Golden Gate) sounded perfect; and since it was just around the corner from the museum and near the Civic Center Parking Garage (which boasts plenty of accessible spaces); the location was also ideal.

The restaurant advertised their wheelchair-accessibility; but you never really know. Fortunately, they were spot-on in their assessment, and we found a nice ramp leading up to the dining area. It’s just a little hole-in-the-wall place, but the food is authentic and the service is excellent. And the lunch special — soup, salad, an imperial roll, BBQ chicken, steamed rice and a drink — was a great deal at just $7.50. The portions were very large; so large that we took home enough for another lunch.

After our tummies were full, we walked up to the Asian Art Museum. The Civic Center area is relatively level, with curb-cuts at every corner, so Cherrie had no problems wheeling around.

Cherrie enjoying the Asian Art Museum.

The Asian Art Museum also has excellent access with a ramped entry, wide doors, plenty of room to wheel around the galleries, elevator access to all floors and accessible restrooms. And although there are a full three floors of Asian treasures housed in this San Francisco landmark; we were there specifically to see “Shanghai”. Running through September 5, this excellent exhibition features more than 130 pieces of Shanghai art dating from the mid nineteenth century to the present. It includes everything from oil paintings and Shanghai Deco furniture to revolutionary posters, contemporary installations and even video clips.

Cherrie has never been to Shanghai, but I’ve shared a lot of pictures with her, from my many visits. So, she was thrilled when she recognized the GPO in some of the paintings in the exhibition. It’s got a very distinctive facade; so much so that Cherrie was even able to spot it in some abstract works. She got a good eye!

Cherrie’s favorite part of the exhibition was a collection of large drawings that served as models for lithographs. Most of these drawings depicted women in fashionable Chinese clothing, but the thing that intrigued Cherrie the most was the fact that they also had their feet bound. I explained to her, that this wasn’t a punishment, but instead a practice dating back to the Tang Dynasty that prevented children’s feet from growing. In fact it was prevalent in the upper classes, as working people couldn’t afford to loose the labor of a child who had their feet bound. Indeed, this custom was considered a luxury. Like I said, Cherrie was very intrigued.

All in all it was a lovely day. We all learned a little more about Shanghai — the people, the history and the art — and totally enjoyed the exhibition.