President Obama, in town for a fundraiser, has made local headlines by stopping at Great Eastern for takeout dim sum. The San Francisco Chronicle has decided the stopover is a scandal. I agree, but not for the same reasons.
Chronicle reporter Carla Marinucci pointed out that Obama, who signed the Shark Conservation Act into law in January 2011, picked a restaurant that continues to sell shark fin soup -- and California's new ban on the sale and import of shark fin went into effect just six weeks ago. Scandal! Of course, the California law allows restaurants to sell off their existing stocks of shark fin until July 1, 2013, making that restaurant's menu still completely legal -- and I'd rather see that shark fin eaten rather than completely thrown away, entirely wasting the life of the animal that died to supply humans with the luxury foodstuff.
No, the scandal's really that Obama was sent to a middling restaurant. Great Eastern's definitely on SFoodie's recent list of San Francisco's top 10 dim sum restaurants, but mostly because of attrition -- all the better places in Chinatown have closed or slumped farther downhill. My last few visits to Great Eastern haven't been exactly thrilling.
reported Obama ordering "shrimp dumplings, pork dumplings, steamed pork
buns, Shanghai dumplings and stuffed mushrooms," I'd have sent him to Yank Sing or City View, which do a better job with basic dumplings and buns. Incidentally, Rose Pak is now claiming she is responsible for Obama's Chinatown visit -- yet another reminder that power brokers aren't the best source for restaurant recommendations.