Friday, August 10, 2007

San Francisco #5: Japantown and Hummus in the Castro

Japantown has a longstanding monument to the tragedy of Japanese internment during WWII, when whole neighborhoods of Japanese-Americans were “evacuated” from their homes and sent to camps, for the alleged safety of the country (this was chronicled in Come See the Paradise, a great little flick from 1990 starring Dennis Quaid and Tamilyn Tomita; it takes place in LA but the same thing happened in SF). A disgraceful, tragic event in our nation's history, and not something that should be forgotten.

In the Japanese Mall on the Peace Plaza, with the large Peace Pagoda sticking up in the middle of the square, there are lots of sushi joints. I mean lots. But stuffed with chorizo and rosewater ice cream (I’m still belching roses), I had no room for sushi. So I just had to wander around and look. I did buy gifts for home, though: two large samplers of mochi and some roasted green tea. And I got a bag of Okinawan brown sugar cookies to boot. And you should see the Japanese grocery stores in this mall. Lots of cool Japanese products!

After Japantown I realized that I only had time to see one more thing before heading to the B&B for my things. I gave up on the Golden Gate Bridge (which, coincidentally, melted in another flick co-starring Dennis Quaid and Tamilyn Tomita, the eco-disaster flick The Day After Tomorrow), which was too far anyway, and hopped on a bus for Golden Gate Park. When I got there I headed past the majestic de Young Museum and (sticking with the Japanese theme) went for the Japanese Tea Garden. It was gorgeous and breathtaking, and very peaceful. Less peaceful were the people drinking tea. I didn’t get any myself.

Long story short: it was late, I hopped on the taxi, made it back to the Castro, fetched my things and sought some food. My last meal in San Fran could’ve been fish, burgers, sushi, but instead I got Mediterranean food at La Méditeranée Café. There I watched the people pass by while sipping a crisp Greek beer, sipping very lemony avgolemono soup (steam was still blowing off of it when I got it) and savoring curried Egyptian chicken on a bed of rice. The chicken was moist and tasty, the veggies retained their own flavors even as they had been stewed together, and the hummus it all came with made it even better. Total cost: $22 after tax and tip.

Done with dinner, I grabbed my mess of stuff and headed for the Muni, ready to wend my way back to Oakland Airport. And wouldn’t ya know it: cheapy airline Southwest (which I used) is going to start up service directly into San Francisco Airport at the end of the month – after I needed it!