It has been close to two decades since I stepped foot in San Francisco. But a more recent trip last week to this city on the west coast of the US for the launch of Hong Kong Airlines’ flights between San Francisco and Hong Kong showed me the one thing I have never visited nor known.
Fortune Cookies are always given out at the end of an Asian meal in the US. But I didn’t know it was such a big thing right here in San Francisco until I was brought to Golden Gate Fortune Cookies Co in San Francisco’s Chinatown where I met the owner Kevin Chan. Kevin shares that Golden Gate Fortune Cookies Co is open every day from 9 am to 6 pm. He doesn’t want to disappoint any guests who come all the way to his store to purchase these famous fortune cookies.
It is hard to miss this fortune cookie factory as the sweet aroma of freshly baked fortune cookies and the buzzing commotion from long queues of patrons buying back these novelty snacks will immediately draw your attention to this nondescript hole in the wall store. Once you step into the store, you are taken back to the 80s where some of the shops in Hong Kong still look this way. For Asians away from home, this would bring back fond memories.
Visitors can see how these Fortune Cookies are handmade at the three stations in the store. It is good to know that these are still being handmade. After the round outer shell wafers are almost fully baked, a slip of paper containing wise sayings or a set of lottery numbers is placed on top before they are shaped over a steel rod into the fortune cookie shape. These are done quickly before the dough hardens. The recipe has been passed down since 1962. Today about 20,000 fortune cookies are made here each day.
You can also purchase a variety of Fortune Cookies. They are not too expensive and you can enjoy the classic flavours as well as other flavours such as vanilla, green tea, strawberry and chocolate flavoured fortune cookies. You can get them for US$5.75 a bag.
There are also chocolate coated fortune cookies. It gets crowded most of the time with people in queues, people getting in and out of the store, and people snapping photos while watching the bakers at work. The store has its own rustic charm with wall art on one side of the store.
You can also customise your fortune cookies. For Hong Kong Airlines, they were going to use the iconic fortune cookies to inaugurate their San Francisco to Hong Kong flight on 25 March 2018. So they got the help of Kevin Chan to produce much larger-sized fortune cookies for the auspicious moment held at San Francisco International Airport.
Fortune Cookies bring smiles and happiness to everyone. Check out the photos above. From left, Mr Doug Yakel, Public Information Officer, San Francisco International Airport, Mr George Liu, Chief Marketing Officer, Hong Kong Airlines, Mr Mark Chandler, Director of San Francisco Mayor’s Office of International Trade and Commerce were seen amused with the large Fortune cookies in their hands. They broke open their fortune cookies and each had a slip that opens up to read Hong Kong Airlines loves San Francisco.
Hong Kong Airlines operates four times weekly flights between San Francisco and Hong Kong.