Best Fortune Cookie - 2004
Japanese Tea Garden
Fortune cookies taste pretty much the same, you say? Well, maybe, but the ones served in this venerable Golden Gate Park retreat score big-time points for no other reason than that the teahouse is the birthplace of the fortune cookie. (Please keep this a secret in Chinatown.) Japanese immigrant Makoita Hagiwara invented the crusty treat wrapped around a piece of paper more than a century ago and began serving it at the teahouse, a surviving remnant of a Japanese-village exhibit from the 1894 California Midwinter Fair. Run by the Hagiwara family until 1942 (shame to say, the family was interned along with other Japanese-American citizens during World War II), the teahouse for many years has operated as a concession of the city's Recreation and Park Department. But the cookies have never left the menu. Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.