My friend ES visited me these past few days, and we had a great time exploring the city, trying new foods, and just hanging out (mostly watching the Olympics).
We met up at the Asian Art Museum. We both wanted to see the Shanghai exhibit. It was interesting to see how dramatically the city’s changed over the course of time. I find the Communist propaganda posters fascinating, and could see a whole exhibit just on that. Outside the exhibit were some cool sculptures.
The next day we tried to eat brunch at Elite Cafe, but it’s only open for brunch on the weekends. Damn! We made do with The Grove, which was just okay. Their breakfasts are better than their sandwich fare, but I was starving so whatever.
Next stop was La Boulange down the street. My brother has been recommending the place to me forever, and ES has been there before. They have beautiful pastries.
I got one chocolate and one almond croissant. I was disappointed with the chocolate, but the almond one was delicious! (I didn’t eat them all in one sitting, by the way)
Then we walked around Japantown, which was very apropos since it was the same time of year – around the strawberry-loving Japanese holiday of Girls’ Day – that we were in Tokyo.
I insisted at first stopping at the New People Cafe for some delicious Blue Bottle coffee. I still say their mocha is the best in town, better even than Philz.
We spent some time in the New People store as well since neither of us had ever been. Basically, it’s fun – and expensive – Japanese toys and collectors’ items.
We spent some time in the different stores, then had dinner at Suzu Noodle House. For some reason, I thought it was new, but it’s clearly not, given the date of the linked review. There was a long wait, and one of the women waiting told us it was “so good,” so we had high hopes. My assessment? Average.
It was definitely good, and at $8.95 for a shio ramen, pretty reasonably priced, but the noodles don’t hold a candle to the ones we had in Tokyo years ago.
It was a beautiful day so we headed out to the Mission District. We both have been, but we wanted to take our time and photograph the many murals. . .
. . .and try some food.
That night we saw Wicked. It was very good, very entertaining. But the musical really takes liberties with the book. I absolutely loved the book. I didn’t really hate the changes – they were well-suited for a popular, family-oriented show – but it made the story very different.
An awful rainy day. We tried taking the bus back out to Fillmore, but after ten minutes in the rain, it didn’t show so we hopped a cab, which was totally worth the delicious brunch at the Elite Cafe.
I usually get the Alabama Scramble (which ES enjoyed), but this time tried the corned beef hash. It was really delicious.
The Elite seems to be another place that does really good breakfast and so so lunch entrees.
Since it was such a rainy day, we thought a museum would be a good idea, the California Academy of Sciences, which neither of us had been to before.
It was great fun, especially the aquarium and indoor rainforest, where butterflies kept landing on people.
You can’t tell but this butterfly had gorgeous bright blue wings, and I think was attracted to people wearing blue. Before landing on this girl, it had alighted on the hand of a boy in a blue T-shirt.
After a while though, the dive bombing butterflies made me paranoid so I had to leave.
Another highlight was the planetarium, which brought back memories of class trips to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, but also gave me motion sickness (so I’m a wuss).
Afterward we went out to the Ferry Building, my first time. Unfortunately almost everything was closed, but it was nice to walk around.
We ate at Slanted Door, a chi chi Vietnamese place. It was just okay, to tell the truth. I liked my spring roll appetizer, and the green papaya salad was AMAZING, but our entrees were average. Mine, the stir fried chicken, had little bones or date pits scattered throughout. It’s not fun to be chewing then suddenly bite on something hard.
We rode the F line out to Fisherman’s Wharf. There was a guy who didn’t have change for a $20 so a bunch of us – all New Yorkers, coincidentally, including the guy – banded together to give him change.
ES had the great idea of renting a car and exploring the further parts of the city. First stop: Richmond, home of delicious dim sum and other Chinese eats. I was able to finally get in my dumplings for the New Year.
Next stop was crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and taking in the view.
It was really breath taking. I also loved watching the animals, like the pelicans that kept circling overhead, the deer we saw grazing (and pooping), and other various birds. This blue bird – or jay? – let us take its picture.
You can see the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.
On our way back to dropping off the car, we drove to Haight-Ashbury, and did a quick walk. For dinner we went to Pesce on Polk Street. It’s tapas style Italian and was pretty good. We shared a vegetable risotto – good though needed salt – a braised duck with pappardelle, some kind of pork with gnocchi, and brussel sprouts. Everything was tasty.
ES also got this oyster vodka shooter. She said it was delicious. I took her word for it.
MB was coming home from a conference at around noon so I begged off for a few hours while ES went exploring on her own. Later we caught up at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, which had interesting exhibits on Mein Kampf and about a scribe writing the Torah.
It was another terribly rainy day, but we made it onto a bus that would take us to our appointments at the Imperial Day Spa, a traditional Korean-style spa and sauna. It was a very unique experience. You strip down buck naked, soak in a tub and/or do a sauna, then get scrubbed within an inch of your life by one of several Chinese ladies in matching burgundy bra and panties.
It sounds sexy, but it’s so not. These ladies are strong and work hard. Oh, and you don’t have your own private room complete with soothing music like at some ritzy place – you’re in a communal room with other naked women. You lie on a plastic mat and have buckets of hot water thrown on you (which actually feels amazing).
I may be able to get
an article fun post out of this experience, in addition to my silky smooth skin. Either way, it was a fun, and weirdly bonding, activity to cap off ES’s stay.
Now back to the grind for everyone!
See all my photos taken during ES’s visit.