Fortune cookies are a staple of Asian-American dining that Singaporeans seldom stumble upon – except maybe during Chinese New Year. Served as a complimentary post-meal tidbit at Chinese restaurants across the US, the novelty lies within – in the form of a paper strip printed with somewhat random predictions or life advice.
Fun fact: Not only did fortune cookies not originate from China, they weren’t even invented in Asia. They actually hail from California, and we paid the iconic Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory in San Francisco a visit to witness firsthand where it all started, all the way back in 1962.
A hole-in-the-wall establishment in the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown, Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory has been in operation for close to 60 years.
Prices start from USD$5 (approx. SGD$6.80) for a box of 16 cookies, or USD$5.75 (approx. SGD$7.70) for a big bag of 35 cookies. The no-frills establishment features shelves of fortune cookies on one side, and the production machinery on another.
While the compact space makes for quite a tight fit – especially since throngs of customers flood in steadily throughout the day, the open concept of placing the whole “factory” out front for all to see makes it more than just a retail experience.
You’ll get to see how the magic happens up-close, from pouring the batter to folding biscuits hot off the griddle into their iconic boomerang-like shape.
A trip to the store consists of a behind-the-scenes “tour” component as well. The moment a new group of curious visitors enter, whichever staff member isn’t on conveyor belt duty will rush over to offer fresh samples.
Of course, the most exciting step of the preparation process is the insertion of the mystery fortune.
Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory even has a cheeky X-rated range (approx. SGD$8.10) containing risqué secret messages. Perfect as party favours or a gag gift!
Veering from the traditional egg-and-sugar recipe which is delicious in its own right, they’ve also got upgraded versions of the fortune cookie with lashings of icing and sprinkles in all shapes and colours (approx. SGD$10.80).
As a little souvenir, you can cop some exclusive Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory merch (approx. SGD$21.60) to rep that Asian pride.
A one-stop shop for the most authentically made fortune cookies you’ll ever find, Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory has perfected their recipe over decades.
Besides getting to nom on loads of crunchy and addictive biscuits, it’s well worth a trip just to witness the fascinating history behind how they are made.
It’s admirable that throughout years of success, they’re still sticking to the old-school method without cutting any corners with new-fangled machinery.
While the fortunes slipped carefully within may not necessarily ring true, you can certainly taste how every last morsel has been handmade with love.
Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory
Address: 56 Ross Alley, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA
Opening hours: Mon – Fri 9AM – 6.30PM | Sat & Sun 9AM – 7PM
Telephone: (+1) 415-806-8243
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Photo credit: Pepita Hope Wauran
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