Day 8 T-Shirt of Choice: Hello by Buddy Carr and New York based graphic designer Antonio Caruson
Our last full day in San Francisco was unintentionally the day that we did the most of our shopping. We decided to check out a few parts of the City by the Bay that we hadn’t seen before. This meant a trip to Japantown, South of Market (SOMA) and the Mission District. We started the day off with a visit to Japantown, which ended up being a great time. This area of San Francisco, which is located about 15 minutes from Union Square, is home to scores of Japanese shops and restaurants.
Instead of a big breakfast, we decided to pick up some pastries from Yasukochi’s Sweet Stop, a Japanese family-run bakery in the heart of Japantown. Everything in this very small bakery looked so good, but we both decided on the Chocolate and Strawberry Roll. And let me tell you, this was probably the most delicious piece of pastry that I’ve had in a very long time. The roll itself was very soft but the strawberry filling tasted like strawberry ice cream. I wish I could have tried more pastries from Yasukochi’s, but alas, there’s always next time. Make Yasukochi’s a must stop if you ever find yourself in San Francisco.
Japantown had so many little shops to offer. Michelle spent a considerable amount of time in the largest Sanrio store that I’ve ever seen. Talk about Hello Kitty overload. I’ve never been in a room with more pink in my entire life. Wow.
While Michelle indulged in her shopping, I decided to stop by a little food stand called May’s Coffee Shop. They specialize in these little fish-shaped pastries that are filled with sweet red beans. I picked up one of those as well as a spam musubi. It almost felt like I was back in Hawaii (spam musubis are huge in Hawaii). And for the uninitiated, spam musubis is a rectangular block of rice topped with a slice of spam and wrapped in nori (seaweed). The red bean pastry was good, the musubi was ok, but more interesting than that, I was sitting next to the owner of May’s Coffee Shop. I struck up a conversation with this 75ish looking Japanese lady and she mentioned to me that she had just returned from vacationing in Hawaii. How neat!
Nippon-Ya is a great place to pick up Japanese candies and mochi. I picked up a box of strawberry and chocolate mochi as well as a box of banana and chocolate mochi. I can’t wait to try them!
The most exciting part of our journey to Japantown was the experience known as PikaPika. PikaPika is a shop filled with tons of Japanese photo booths. And we are talking authentic Japanese photo booths that speak to you in Japanese! Luckily, they provide English directions on these large cardboard slabs. What makes the PikaPika fun is that it’s timed so you have to move quickly when figuring out your different poses. Some booths also have monkey bars for those who want to try out some outrageous poses! Once you’ve taken all of your photos, you can then design them with borders and different designs. Apparently, these photo booths are all the rage in Japan. It was a super fun experience!
After Japantown, we headed toward the area of San Francisco known as SOMA, which is short for South of Market Street. Our main mission in SOMA was to stop by the Gama-Go store. T-Shirt fans will probably be familiar with Gama-Go. They are an independent T-Shirt brand based out of San Francisco. I’ll give Gama-Go their own post here on the blog with photos taken at the shop, so, be on the lookout for that.
Things got interesting when we left SOMA for the Mission District of San Francisco. The Mission District has a very large Latino population, so much so, that it caught us a little bit by surprise. We had planned to stop by a restaurant known as The Sandwich Place for lunch, but unfortunately they had just closed for the day. So, we decided to go straight to our next stop on the dayâ€™s itinerary which was Goldilocks Bakery, a bakery deep in the Mission District. Michelle ended up buying an insane amount of Filipino pastries to take home for her mom.
We wrapped up the afternoon by eating lunch in a Chinese hole in the wall across the street from the Goldilocks Bakery. It was called Chop Sticks Fast Food Restaurant. Chinese Fast Food Restaurant. We ended up there after we saw that it had a very high ranking on Yelp. It was a one man run pit stop for very cheap Chinese food. In this case, cheap also meant very good Chinese food. We each got large plates for $4 a piece. How insane is that?
After heading back to the hotel to freshen up, we decided to catch a movie at the Westfield Mall, which was conveniently located across our hotel on Market Street. We saw the new Ben Stiller flick, Greenberg. It was an odd little indie type flick. I enjoyed it; Michelle, not so much.
For dinner we stopped by Cafe Bellini on Powell Street for some pasta. I had the spaghetti with meatballs and Michelle had the penne pesto pasta. The food was ok and we were just happy to find something open for dinner that late in the night.
Day 9 T-Shirt of Choice: I Am The Walrus and Striking Zip Up Hoodie by Fuzzy Ink (not a T-Shirt, I know, but it is made by a popular indie designer who we’ve featured on this site many times before).
And so the journey back home begins. But not just yet. We still had a few hours left in lovely San Francisco so we decided to make the most of it. We had breakfast at one of our favorite breakfast spots in the city, Sear’s Fine Foods. If you watch either the Travel Channel or the Food Channel then chances are that you’re familiar with Sear’s. The thing to get at Sear’s is their World Famous 18 Swedish Pancakes. We of course ordered that as well as the usual breakfast fare of eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast.
After breakfast we crossed the street to Union Square–home to the famous San Francisco Hearts. These large heart structures can be found throughout the city, but the ones in Union Square are definitely the most famous. “Hearts in San Francisco began in 2004 as a fundraiser for the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation. Like the famous painted cows, the painted hearts, created from uniform molds and painted by individual artists, decorate the city in areas like Union Square, until they are auctioned off at a benefit for the charity. New hearts are unveiled each year.”
And with that final sightseeing session, our vacation was officially over. As we prepared for the daunting 8 hour trip back home, we reflected a bit about the last 9 days. We both realized that we genuinely loved the city of San Francisco. We also both realized that we absolutely hated flights that involve stop-overs. Philadelphia undoubtedly has some of the best eating spots on the planet. San Franciscoâ€™s eclectic and diverse culture never gets old.
We both began brainstorming ideas for our next trip, and the one after that. One thing is for sure, we both love traveling and food. And the best way to experience one or the other is to do them both at the same time. I could have a cheesesteak anywhere in the world, but it would never be as good as a cheesesteak eaten in the heart of south Philadelphia. I look forward to my next trip, wherever that may be. I just hope that it is as good as this one has been, filled with just as many memories, and involves lots and lots of great food.
And here’s a little video slideshow for you to enjoy!