Monday, April 03, 2006

San Francisco Japantown

I was excited to escape the house this last weekend for a short journey to San Francisco’s Japantown. We arrived at 10 a.m. before most of stores and restaurants had opened and scored a premium parking spot. At first glance the mall seems like any other tired, old strip mall in California. Upon further inspection you realize that the place is clean and well maintained. It doesn’t feel touristy, more like a community you are lucky enough to be invited into. What makes it special to a food person like me is that it seems every other shop is a restaurant. Each restaurant has their menus posted outside and some even have plastic replicas of each menu item displayed under glass.

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Workers were arriving and beginning to set up shop for the day’s business. A couple of restaurants were open for breakfast serving a cadre of mostly older Japanese men. May’s Coffeehouse was serving up American style breakfast and some good looking bowls of noodle soup. Murata’s Café Hana was doing a brisk business of coffee drinks and fine French Pastries.

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Hana Cafe

We decided to check out Radisson’s Miyako Hotel. Everyone in the lobby seemed to be happy and smiling. A beautiful little garden adjacent was peaceful and quiet. The hotel’s Dot Restaurant was serving both Japanese and American menu items at a reasonable price for a city hotel. We got a little laugh when we followed the signs to the hotel store. It turned out to be a computerized vending machine with toiletries and snack foods.

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Hotel “Store”

One of the most fun stores was Ichiban Kan, a Japanese style dollar store. We purchased bento boxes and kitchenware to add to our burgeoning collection of kitchen “stuff”.

It was lunch time and the mall was active and alive. Several groups of clean cut teenage kids played the universal courting game. It was time to make a choice for food. We choose Mifune Don, a hole in the wall serving up good food cheap. We split an order of expertly fried potato croquettes with sweet dipping sauce. I opted for the Niku Soba Noodle soup. I usually get undon noodles so it was a new experience. The soba noodles had a nutty, musky flavor that was nice. My wife had Tempura Donburri which consisted of tempura shrimp and vegetables over rice. With tax and tip the bill was $24. We left full and happy.

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Niku Soba

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Tempura Donburri


Mona said...

Greg, don't ya just love the Japanese? I love those vending machines or the "hotel store." Hilarious. Those dishes look awesome. I didn't even know they had Japantown in SF. I'll have to check it out next time I'm there. Hope you're well.

cookiecrumb said...

Ichiban Kan. I have GOT to go again.
Do you ever go into Kinokuniya, the bookstore?

Ivonne said...

Food trips are always the very best ones! The food looks incredible!

Greg said...

Did not do the bookstore CC.It wasn't open when we first arrived and I was to darn lazy to hike back to it.
Mona you gotta check it out. I barely scratched the surface
Ivonne every trip is a food trip for me.