Marianne Wong

Concierge, Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco

  • San Francisco, California, USA

Marianne Wong has worked in the hospitality industry for decades and has been a concierge at Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco, since 2000. Marianne previously spent 10 years as a concierge at the Sheraton Palace Hotel in San Francisco and, before that, worked at the front desk and in the food and beverage department at the Westin St. Francis. A member of Les Clefs d’Or USA and recent vice president of the Northern California Concierge Association, Marianne holds a degree from the City College of San Francisco’s hotel and restaurant program.

  • On April 6, 2013
    Marianne Wong answered the question: Marianne Wong

    What are the best souvenirs to buy in San Francisco?

    Of course a visit to San Francisco is not complete unless you've stopped at the iconic Golden Gate Bridge painted a distincitive "international orange", a lucious color between terracotta and lipstick red.  Last year the Golden Gate Bridge celebrated its 75th Anniversary and opened a brand new Visitor's Pavillion.  The Pavillion is made up of three separate buildings, the Round House, the new Visitor's Center with gift shop and a linear refreshment cafe.  In the Round House, one can take a photo with the Golden Gate Bridge superimposed as a backdrop.  There are several backdrop options but my favorite is me climbing on the cables atop one of the towers, fun.  The Vistor's Center offers tasteful, well thought out gifts using recycled materials and designed by local artists.  I sent one of the great cross body bags to my cousin in New Jersey for Christmas and her teens fought for it.  At only $10, it's a winner and easy to pack.
  • On March 26, 2013
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  • On March 19, 2013
    Marianne Wong answered the question: Marianne Wong

    What are the best local dishes in San Francisco?

    Dungeness crab is a favorite local delicacy, the season begins in November.  I know friends that serve Dungeness crab for Thanksgiving instead of turkey because the start of the season finds this crustacean at its meatiest.  Steamed and cracked, boiled, sauteed, baked or any way you like it, it's truly the San Francisco treat.  Some of my favorite destinations to enjoy this is Swan Oyster Depot for the chilled, cracked version, Anchor Oyster Bar in the Castro for their amazing Cioppino which is a tomato based seafood stew, R&G Lounge in Chinatown for their salt baked version and Crustacean's roasted crab with garlic butter.

    Dungeness crab is traditionally enjoyed with another San Francisco specialty; sourdough bread.  The bread is generally served with a pat of butter but I prefer it with extra virgin olive oil and a little salt.  Something about the water and atmosphere in this region makes a perfect sourdough bread, some of the "mother" doughs go back a hundred years.  So a true San Francisco meal is cracked crab with drawn butter and lemon, a hunk of hearty sourdough bread and of course a delicious glass of California Pinot Blanc (for me anyway).
  • On March 18, 2013
    Marianne Wong answered the question: Marianne Wong

    What are the best fine-dining restaurants in San Francisco?

    There are so many outstanding restaurants in San Francisco and of course the fine-dining category is well represented.  The newest trend has been the "menu degustation", whereby only one menu is served each night from six to fourteen courses.  Some of the noted players in this arena is Coi with Chef Daniel Patterson, Saison with Chef Joshua Skenes, Atelier Crenn with Chef Dominique Crenn to name but a few.  
  • On March 18, 2013
    Marianne Wong answered the question: Marianne Wong

    What are the best places for tea in San Francisco?

    My favorite beverage is tea so I am pleased to recommend a few of my favorite destinations in San Francisco to enjoy this.  For traditional English style tea, try the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the service has all that is expected including made to order sandwiches, scones, delicate petit fours and tarts.  For a great Chinese tea experience, I head to Imperial Tea Court in the Ferry Building.  Experience "kung fu" tea, a master tradition, where one samples the highest grade teas brewed to perfection and sipped from delicate thumb size Yixing wares.  Samovar, atop the Yerba Buena Gardens, across from the SF Museum of Modern Art is another excellent choice.  The views of the city scape and the unexpected open space is a great respite from the cacphony of downtown.  Samovar offers many styles of tea service; from hearty meals to a simple perfect cup of brew.
  • On March 18, 2013
    Marianne Wong answered the question: Marianne Wong

    What are the best places for dessert in San Francisco?

    Tartine Bakery in the Mission District has received much acclaim since its inception, receiving a James Beard Award in 2008 for Outstanding Pastry Chef.  Located in a district fast becoming the dining destination of San Francisco, the lines curl along the block on most days.  My favorie is the divine banana cream tart, I buy the smaller one, a sop to my conscience for over indulgence.  The patrons are mostly local and if there isn't a seat in this small space, bring your treats to Dolores Park a block away to enjoy it.  After the sugar rush, walk off your calories on Valencia Street and plan to enjoy a great cup of organic coffee at Four Barrels at 14th Street. 
  • On March 18, 2013
    Marianne Wong answered the question: Marianne Wong

    What are the best seafood restaurants in San Francisco?

    San Francisco is full of good seafood restaurants but like a local, I tend to steer away from the Wharf for my recommendations.  For traditional seafood, try Tadich Grill in the financial district, it's one of the oldest restaurants in San Francisco, no reservations taken but the dining counter moves quickly.  Swan Oyster another institution in San Francisco serves up the freshest oysters and other chilled seafood dishes such as cracked Dungeness crab  and shrimp cocktail.  It's only one counter so be prepared to wait.  Anchor Oyster Depot in the Castro is another favorite, one of the best Cioppino's in the region.  Cioppino is a tomato based soup/stew loaded with seafood, wards off the chill in this foggy city.
  • On March 18, 2013
    Marianne Wong answered the question: Marianne Wong

    What are the best local dishes in San Francisco?

    Dungeness crab is a favorite local delicacy, the season begins in November.  I know friends that serve Dungeness crab for Thanksgiving instead of turkey.  Steamed and cracked, boiled, sauteed, baked or any way you like it, it's truly the San Francisco treat.  Some of my favorite destinations to enjoy this is Swan Oyster Depot for the chilled, cracked version, Anchor Oyster Bar in the Castro for their amazing Cioppino which is a tomato based seafood stew, R&G Lounge in Chinatown for their salt baked version and Crustacean's roasted crab with garlic butter.
  • On March 18, 2013
    Marianne Wong answered the question: Marianne Wong

    What are quirky local customs in San Francisco?

    While San Francisco is a dynamic world class city, the restaurants tend to close early, generally by 10pm.  So plan your days and nights accordingly.  Most restaurants are filled by 7pm so if you wish to dine at an exclusive restaurant, you're likely to get in later in the evening.  The denizens of this city dresses down, no need to bring the great pair of Louboutins because you wouldn't need them, save your luggage space for an extra layer of sweaters and scarves you'll want to ward of the chill breeze from the Bay.  Also the many hills of this city discourages getting around on particularly high heels.  
  • On March 18, 2013
    Marianne Wong answered the question: Marianne Wong

    What are some things to know before visiting San Francisco?

    San Francisco is made up of seven hills, just like the eternal city of Rome, Italy.  These hills are always a surprise to first time visitors because they can be quite steep and while traveling between two points looks like an easy walk on a map, it can give your glutes a real work out.  The silver lining to this of course is that you can indulge in the wonderful restaurants and still get a good work out while on holiday.  So bring good walking shoes and be prepared to work those leg muscles.

    Public transportation will take you to all corners of the city but it does take time because of the many stops. Taxis are relatively inexpensive so when planning your stay, if you only have a day or two, perhaps spend a little extra to save time.  Taxis are not as abundant as in other large cities like New York or Chicago and unfortunately, one can't order a taxi ahead of time, unless you're traveling to the airport.  Check with your hotel concierge before heading out for the day and inquire if traveling back from your destination will be a challenge.  Finally, make sure you carry some cash for the taxi because they will take a passenger with cash over someone who wants to pay with a credit card.  Technically drivers are not allowed to turn down a fare but they do and this has happened frequently to me that I've followed this practice when getting around town.

    San Francisco has a real food culture, with the many ethnicities that make up this remarkable city, naturally the foods from foreign lands make their way into the restaurant scene.  When planning a visit to San Francisco, do take advantage of the different ethnic cuisines that you might not find at home.  


  • On March 18, 2013
    Marianne Wong is now following the question:
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