It is art, it is history, it is fun...but most of all, it's delicious! On the tour, time-permitting you will:
- Learn about the history, folklore, culture and food of America's largest Chinatown
- Visit a Taoist and Buddhist temple
- Enjoy a visit to a premier Chinese teashop
- Go to a Chinese deli
- Peek into side streets and alleyways, following the heady scent of a Chinese herbal shop
- And, after the tour, share a hosted luncheon, a "tasting menu" that includes a couple of 'dim sum' items followed by a popular entree, side dish and dessert at a traditional Chinese restaurant. Most participants find the food offering to be comparable to a light to moderate sized lunch and some choose to eat more afterwards while many are full for hours!
Experience life in Chinatown...
Visitors who come here will find wonderful dim sum teahouses, small coffee shops, restaurants frequented by locals, and observe spiffily-dressed families headed to celebratory Chinese banquets. It is vibrant community, home to over 10,000 residents and visited by millions each year.
We look forward to hosting you on this exciting and delicious tour of Chinatown!
What Is Not Included?
- How far in advance should I book a tour?
- As soon as you have set your plans and you know you would like to attend the tour. Our tours often sell out, and frequently well in advance, so please make sure to purchase your tickets early, especially if you have limited time availability.
- Is food included in the tour?
- A full adult or child price ticket includes a Dim Sum tasting menu at a traditional Chinese restaurant. If you do not want to include these delicious tastings with your tour, please purchase an "Adult Walk" or "Child Walk" ticket. However, if you have never enjoyed dim sum, this is a golden opportunity to check it out!
- How long is the tour without the Dim Sum lunch?
- The tour lasts approximately TWO hours without lunch.
- How much food is served on the tour?
- The tour concludes with an hour for a tasting menu of "dim sum" and popular Chinese dishes. Most participants find the food offering to be comparable to a light to moderate sized lunch and some choose to eat more afterwards while many are full for hours!
- What if I have a dietary restriction?
- Please let us know if anyone in your group has a dietary restriction (e.g. vegetarian, diabetic, etc.) when you purchase your tickets and also remind your tour leader when you check in. If we do not find out about the special needs until we get to the restaurant, it is impossible for us to adjust in time to accommodate. Additionally, the modifications that could be made to the tasting menu are unfortunately limited and guests with strict dietary restrictions may consider purchasing a Walk Only ticket. This way, you can enjoy the full walking tour but enjoy more flexibility with your lunch by dining separately from the tour group (ask your tour leader for great suggestions!). Vegetarians dining with the tour are usually offered a plate of Stir-fry Chinese Vegetables with either rice or noodles, or Tofu and Mushrooms/Greens and steamed rice.
- I see that a book is available for purchase with my tickets; can I have some more information on it?
- Sure! “The Woman Who Ate Chinatown: a San Francisco Odyssey” is a book written by the founder of Wok Wiz tours, television chef and culinary humorist, the late Shirley Fong-Torres. Released in 2008, this highly publicized book invites you to take a tour through San Francisco’s delicious, vibrant, and historic Chinatown neighborhood and also Oakland’s Chinatown, where Shirley grew up. For two decades, Shirley guided 20,000 visitors a year through San Francisco’s Chinatown on her tours, and this book shows why so many keep coming back for more. There are also 20 carefully chosen recipes, most requested by wonderful past tour participants. It’s Chinese-American history with a bottomless appetite for quirky anecdotes, respected traditions and exquisite dumplings, and a perfect complement to your Wok Wiz tour experience! The book is available for purchase as an “extra” with your ticket purchase.
- What time should I arrive for my tour?
- The Wok Wiz Daily Tour begins promptly at the scheduled start time. Please make sure to arrive 15 minutes early so we can sign everyone in and start the tour on time. If you come really early, you may wish to get a cup of latte, mocha, coffee, etc. at the Italian cafe right at the corner of Montgomery and Commercial. No, I do not need (but want) a chocolate croissant...
- What ticket should I buy if I am bringing a small child?
- Children under the age of 5 do not need a ticket if they are not participating in the dim sum lunch. If your child will be eating anything at the dim sum lunch, they will required a "cutie" ticket for $15.
- Where does the tour end?
- The tour finishes at the Chinatown restaurant where we eat lunch. We are happy to give directions to your next destination.
- How many people are in a typical group?
- To ensure that we can provide an intimate experience for all our guests, we limit the size of our tour groups. We average 10 to 16 guests per tour leader.
- Is the tip to the tour leader and restaurant included?
- The gratuity to your tour leader is not included. Consider him/her as you would others in the industry, or as servers in restaurants, cab drivers, etc. You tip them at your discretion, and a good time to do so is after the tour, when you are saying farewell. The tip at the restaurant is included with your tour cost but if a server is extraordinary, s/he will always appreciate a little bonus.
- Do tour leaders make all the same stops?
- Each tour leader is unique and lends his/her special flair to the tour experience. We all cover the history, architecture, and folklore of the community, but may make different stops as we see fit. If we hear that a guest is especially interested in a certain area (e.g., marketplace, Chinese medicine) we do our very best to be sure that is covered.
- Is the walking strenuous?
- Not at all. It is a relaxing walk, with many pauses and a few stops (refer to tour descriptions).
- Is this also a good general sightseeing tour of Chinatown?
- Yes! You will be taken through the back alleys, restaurants, grocery stores, temples and parks of this historic neighborhood.
- What happens if it rains?
- The tour operates rain or shine. We will be spending time outside, as well as in some of the local establishments, so please dress accordingly. IF it is a horrible storm, we will contact you the night before to cancel and reschedule.
- Is the tour wheelchair and/or stroller-accessible?
- Yes it is. We require that there is an assistant for the person in the wheelchair, as there are areas of Chinatown that have inclines; and if the stroller-guest gets tired or cranky, we just ask that, out of courtesy to others on the tour, to walk away and cuddle and calm the baby/toddler...
- Are gift certificates available for the tour?
- Yes, gift certificates make a great gift for any occasion! If you are interested in purchasing a gift certificate, please contact Wok Wiz by clicking the "Contact WokWiz" link.
- Can I book a private tour?
- Yes, private tours are available. Wok Wiz provides fantastic private tours and events for incentive groups, schools, etc. If you are interested in booking a private tour, contact Wok Wiz by clicking on the "Contact WokWiz" link.
Wok Wiz Chinatown Tours/Cooking Co
Wok Wiz Chinatown Tours remains a San Francisco icon. Featured in the NY Times, LA Times, Bon Appetit, Gourmet, and Cooking Light, and multiple guide books such as Fodor’s and Frommer’s, the tours are touted as "top attractions" in the city.
Former English as a Second Language teacher, Shirley worked for Levi Strauss & Co., but she found her true path in life in 1984: "To teach and entertain people while sharing my love for Chinese history and food." The author of four books and numerous food and travel articles, Shirley also guest starred on the Food Network, Discovery, Fine Living-TV, and PBS shows, as well as the Rachael Ray talk show during her life. Her legacy continues to inspire the Wok Wiz team today who, led by Shirley’s daughter Tina and the same food-loving chefs and guides, keep Wok Wiz true to its original mission: "For our new friends to leave us with a greater understanding of the Chinese immigrants and their contributions to American life, and with good food and memories."
Don't waste a single minute...or calorie. Eat well, laugh more!