Crab Rangoon: No It’s Not Authentic Chinese Food

I knew the history growing up around crab rangoon. It wasn’t a very easy to find appetizer, but suddenly I started hearing people talk about it again on YouTube when I suddenly noticed Asian vloggers telling you that it’s not authentic Chinese food. They’re right, it’s authentic San Franciscan food.

I never saw crab rangoon offered at any of the Chinese restaurants in the City and I even started trying to find it on the menus and finally found it at one restaurant in the Outer Sunset. Oddly enough it’s easier to find at the Hawaiian restaurants you’ll find around the Bay Area, but it’s rare at Chinese restaurants.

So here’s the funny thing about all this. While crab rangoon was invented and first served at Trader Vic’s in Emeryville before moving on their locations it’s nearly impossible to find today in San Francisco. Yet when I moved back east to Northampton, Massachusetts every Chinese restaurant sells it. The grocery stores even sell frozen packages of it.

If you have no idea what crab rangoon is [and you’ll quickly see why it’s not authentic Chinese] it’s a fried appetizer that consists of a won-ton skin filled with crab, green onions and…cream cheese. Tastes great in my opinion, but definitely not Chinese. Vic Bergeron took a few liberties when he built his Tiki Bar empire with some of the recipes he introduced.

If you can find it in San Francisco you should try it. I rather like it and you can point out as I do that it’s an authentic San Franciscan dish. 

See’s Candy

I have always been a chocoholic. I have pictures of me as a kid on Halloween stuffing chocolates into my mouth. I was such a chocoholic that in the early 80’s a magazine called Choclatier came out and I was one of the first subscribers. From this magazine I learned about all these new wonderful chocolate makers such as Godiva, Neuhaus, even our old American standby’s Hershey and Nestle had upscale versions that weren’t normally available in stores, but I have to say my fall back was always See’s Candy.

Sees Candy wasn’t actually starting in San Francisco, but in Los Angeles by Charles See in 1921 who wanted an old time candy shop look for the company so he used a picture of his mother Mary See, who never once made a chocolate for the store. See’s Candy moved up the South San Francisco somewhere in the 50’s where it was purchased by the Berkshire Hathaway Group in 1972 with Warren Buffet as it’s chairman [I never expected to find that out]. See’s Candy soon became the staple of shopping malls everywhere in the Bay Area. The best part about a trip to See’s Candy was that even if you didn’t buy anything just walking in meant you got a free piece of candy. When the holidays or someone’s birthday or even if you were invited over to someone’s house for dinner, See’s Candy was the standard to bring. Companies I worked for would receive a 5 lb box at Christmas and my bosses would frequently give out 1 lb boxes to the employees at Christmas time.

When I finally had a chance to sample Godiva and Neuhaus I was impressed, but like so many other people at the malls I headed to Sees when I wanted chocolate. Sees candy is currently $15/pound while Godiva is at $50/pound. See’s Candy in my opinion is much better and diverse than Godiva and that means [in our current economic downturn] that See’s Candy will give you more bang for your buck. My favorite in the boxed variety are the nuts and chews which I could probably much to my doctor’s chagrin eat an entire box in one sitting, but when Easter comes around it is always the divinity eggs that are at the top of my list. Screw the rocky road eggs, I want to bite into chocolate and get to that creamy nutty center. See’s Candy still has the old time candy shop look with only minor updates over the years. The best part about the place is that my mother gave me a very important lesson in stock with See’s Candy. It turns out that if you buy a gift certificate for a 1 lb box of chocolate that you can use it at any time in the future regardless of price increases. Way back when I had more disposable income I sunk my money into 100 gift certificate at $3 each. Now that the price has risen to 5 times that I get a much better return on my investment. I keep the extras in my safe due to their increased value.

While I still have a strong fondness for Ghirardelli Chocolate that is just plain chocolate, when it comes to filled and enrobed chocolates See’s Candy is still top of my list.