Hello bento pals! We recently spent a wonderfully sensory day exploring San Francisco's Chinatown and Japantown. Some glimpses of the colorful, evocative and extremely tasty things we encountered follow.
Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, note the sculpted Art Deco details in the second image.
Chinatown, late morning, with bright sky and green leaf-lit freshness:
I loved this bird mural...
Dragonfruit and melons
Chinese herbal medicines, harmoniously displayed
Our breakfast of good dim sum, was very fond of the shrimp and dark greens dumplings at the top of this photo...
Beautiful vegetable seeds, like postcards from a cosmic garden!
Check out the intricate tones and textures on this hanging lamp, lovely against the gold and cinnamon wall:
Chinese tamales--a great expression of California's culinary cross-fertilization. Wonder what they taste like? Next time I'll find out!
Here we are reflected in the bakery window. Love the film noir-era sign letters in black and gold...
The nostalgic, garish and effortlessly beautiful all combine here and call out from each sloping street and shifting vista...
Arriving in Japantown, getting our bearings at the Peace Pagoda. I'm hungry for lunch and eager for some bento shopping!
Inside the large indoor malls, so many versions of Japanese refinement and fun...
Daiso! This place is the Holy Grail for budget bentoists...some great little treasures here, my new sunny yellow boxes were less than two dollars each.
We were excited to see a ramen shop whose sign announced noodles made on premises daily...have been searching for authentic ramen in the DC area without great success.
Here's Jamison happily tucking into his soup featuring roast pork in a garlicky broth with bamboo shoots and eggs. Incredible noodles. Mission accomplished!
Meanwhile, I was tackling this weighty, salty, tasty okonomiyaki pancake. Yummy indeed with sharp mustard and pink pickled radish accompaniments...
At a nifty hardware/housewares shop, seeds for growing traditional Japanese vegetables and herbs
...many of which were available at the excellent markets and delis in this part of town. We loved the selection of fresh foods at Nijiya Market!
Sweet treats at Yasukochi's Sweet Shop. I hope they never change this wonderful 1970's sign!
Here's a bento I made the next day with leftover okonomiyaki and pickles, shiso leaves from Nijiya and mochi from Benkyodo Co., plus avocado, scallions and Sebastopol market purple radish.
Thanks for coming along on this flavorful journey!