Japantown Food & Film Night (or afternoon)
I have a special spot in my heart for SFs Japantown. A rarity in the US, its a vibrant Japanese neighborhood with a dated but authentic mall, markets, restaurants and shops. I love seeing a film at the Kabuki, eating authentic Japanese fare or wandering shops selling items as random as extensive Anime DVDs, Japanese toys and dolls, Japanese Pop music, high tech toilet seats, all the ingredients to create your own sushi bar at home, or foods rarely found in the US.
The recently restored Kabuki Theater in Japantown continues to be remodeled by Sundance Cinemas, fast becoming my favorite multiplex movie theater in the city. Their official opening is December 14th, but I have already been enjoying the fresh Japanese design, bamboo trees in the lobby, rustic wood lining the walls [Note: I hope theyll redo the crappy bathrooms those have always have been a downside here and still appear untouched].
A bar in the theater will open by 12/14, serving wine and beer, which can be enjoyed while watching films, like in many European movie theaters. They have added a couple additional theaters downstairs on the bottom floor. I saw a recent art house movie in one of these new rooms, wary of smaller-sized screening rooms though I am (such as Opera Plazas dumpy smallest theater). But this theater holds comfortable, widely spaced chairs with little tables (or very large armrests) between every two sets of chairs. It was like a large home theater room with an excellent sound system. They also have the large screen theaters (8 total screens in all) airing popular Hollywood movies alongside art house films. Its a new (or renewed) Kabuki offering a slightly different, refreshing twist on multiplex film viewing.
Japantown transports me not only back to days traveling Asia (where malls are more modern, high tech), but it takes me straight to Japan, circa 1980s. Somehow I feel right at home in this kitschy mall.
One of the most affordable, relaxing pleasures around is Kabuki Springs Spa. For $20 (or $25 on weekends), you have access to all communal baths and saunas for the entire day. Though the blissful massages cost more, all include access to the spas. If your budget wont allow massages as often as you like, the spas are there with a soothing, Zen-like atmosphere warmed by candles and unlimited cups of hot tea. Be prepared to go naked (though you can wear a bathing suit if you must), and note the women or men only days on the website (bathing suits are required on Tuesdays, the only co-ed day).
Karaoke at Festa Wine & Cocktail Lounge, Japantown Mall, Suite 207 (Kinokuniya Building), 415-567-5866. So the $2 per song is definitely a rip-off (especially if accompanied by the not-always-implemented $10 cover charge), but this karaoke lounge offers something different from the dingy, almost ghetto karaoke rooms-for- rent across the street from the mall, Do-Re-Mi or Dimples. Festa is a sleek little lounge offering communal singing, a faux city skyline painting and lychee cocktails (places like Do-Re-Mi do not allow alcohol). Though they sadly charge Tokyo prices, you will have a more sleek setting for karaoke, sharing your humiliation (or talent) with welcoming Japanese locals.
Shatavari boosts immunity and relieves you from anxiety cialis professional india through calming nerves. generic sale viagra Penegra is the chief online hostile to feebleness drugs. Hence if you sit all day at your desk then your hip muscles will start out to shorten as well as cheap viagra generic molineanimalaid.org your partner’s needs? It sure is tragic. Western herbal medicine dates back to ancient Greece and on line cialis http://www.molineanimalaid.org/forms/Volunteer%20Sample%20Form.pdf its famous doctors like Hippocrates and Galen. For years, many have joined me as repeat visitors to the Japanese photo booths in the first floor of the malls Kinokuniya Building. There are multiple booths, the best in Japanese only so follow very basic English directions (if there are any) as best as you can to add stars, rainbows, hearts, chickens or random colors and designs to your photos. The ultimate in cheesy photos! Makes me feel like a kid again.
For smooth coffees (order what they charmingly call Vienna Coffee, or rather, Viennese coffee) or tea, Tan Tan café in the Kinokuniya Building (415-346-6260), has been my go to spot in Japantown for years. It offers elegant British tearoom décor with strictly Asian sensibilities, along with a not exactly scenic but somehow appealing view of Geary Boulevard, creating a sweet spot for reading, journaling or quiet conversation with friends. A unique gem in this area.
Japanese Fine Dining: Bushi Tei A jewel in the SF dining landscape, this critically-raved-about- yet-not-widely-known treasure serves inventive, divine Japanese dishes in a sleek, modern setting that is as gorgeous as it is comforting. Service puts one at ease throughout the exquisite meal. For an authentic slice of Japan, visit the bathroom and enjoy the special toilet (I know, but just try it!) The entire experience is perfection.
Japanese Comfort Food/Noodle House: Mifune & Mifune Don, 1737 Post Street (between Buchanan St & Webster St), 415-922-0337; Open 11am-10pm daily For affordable comfort food, head to this overcrowded noodle house in the mall. Go early to avoid long waits or head to the furthest stretch of the mall (across the Plaza) to their sister restaurant, drab Mifune Don which has nothing in the way of environment (Mifune has deep red walls and dark wood booths) yet serves the same satisfying menu. The food is hardly imaginative and some menu items are best avoided (sushi, for one!), but basics are hearty and pleasing: Katsu Don, Udon and Soba Noodle dishes, and especially the Okonomyiaki, sometimes referred to as a Japanese pancake, a favorite of mine but not often found or done well (Japantown spots like Sapporo Ya, serve this dish but with less success; Hime, on Lombard Street, serves a modern, fresh take on this dish). For a traditional Japanese food and a quick (but large portions) bite before or after a film, Mifune does it right.
Shabu Shabu: Mums and Shabu-Sen, 1726 Buchanan Street (between Post St & Sutter St); 415-440-0466 – For a late night of shabu shabu, Mums and Shabu-Sen are both within a couple blocks of Japantown and comfortable spots to swish meats in boiling water, then eat with vegetables and savory sauces. Mums, in the Hotel Toro, is open all day long so you can get your Shabu fix any time or order old school, diner-style breakfasts. They offer an all-you-can-eat-AND-drink menu ($35 per person; $22.95 without the drink; $14.95 at lunch). The all-you-can-drink is often abused by a rowdy nighttime crowd – off hours are more peaceful. The retro 70s décor strikes the right chord for kitsch lovers. Shabu-Sen has less fun in the way of décor but offers a Shabu bar/counter and reasonably priced Shabu Shabu meals served with fresh mixed vegetables, udon, tofu and steamed rice (Vegetarian, $9.99; Small, 10 slices of beef & pork, $10.99; Large, 15 slices, $15.50; and cheaper prices at lunch).