Late Night Japantown

Yesterday while waiting for my sister at a concert at The Fillmore, I spent some time in San Francisco’s Japantown. My parents and I headed inside the Japan Center mall to start our evening off with dinner. Being the picky restauranteur I am, I insisting on yelping every restaurant they were drawn too. Eventually hunger got the best of us and we settled for Kushi Tsuru, having only a 3 star rating on yelp.

I was optimistic, though. Yelp reviewers can be a bit harsh sometimes.

Starter was a seaweed salad garnished with Tobiko roe, average quality.


For my entree I ordered the grilled whole calamari. It was cold and therefore got chewy.  Oh well. 20131006-184356.jpg

Another starter was the sake clams. The clams were good quality, and the broth had a strong sake flavor. Unfortunately I feel the broth lacked richness and depth. Where is that umami punch japanese is famous for? I don’t know at this restaurant. 20131006-184414.jpgAlso, we ordered the Caterpillar roll, which was delicious and topped with a pleasantly fruity soy based sauce. I’m not sure what it is, but it put a nice spin on an all-too common Japanese-American roll. The seafood teppan was good as well; seafood and beansprouts served on a sizzling plate. The fried fish egg (?) was a special treat.

Once we finished dinner, it was only 9 o’clock and we still had plenty of time to kill. The mall was clean and not too crowded, but most of the shops were already clothes. Being a warm evening in San Francisco (surprise!), we headed outside of the mall for a bit.

Walking around the Fillmore district a little past nine, there wasn’t much to do besides karaoke or drink. Most of the shops were already closed, including Benkyodo, famous for its mochi and manju. Next time I’ll be sure to go there earlier so I can try some red bean pastries, yum!

Feet sore from circling around Post, Sutter, Fillmore, and Geary, we returned to the mall around 10, but Sophie’s Crepes, famous for Japanese crepes of course, was closed. Bummer again, so we settled for Moyo’s Froyo, which was good, but pricier than the self-serve I have at home.

The rest of the evening we sat outside of the mall. Though I wanted to walk to Hayes Valley to see project proxy, “PROXY is a temporary two-block project located in San Francisco which seeks to mobilize a flexible environment of food, art, culture, and retail within renovated shipping containers”, my parents feet would not walk further. And to think that they used to have to push me around in a stroller…

As we waited past 11, 12, into the wee hours of the night for my sister’s concert to finish, we watched group after group walk into the mall only to return 15 minutes or so later drunk and staggering. It was quite amusing, actually.

When the show was over and we headed home, I left the city feeling exhausted, yet unsatisfied. Japan town just did not seem as appealing as Chinatown, or as my expectations had led me to assume. Perhaps coming earlier is better for this part of the city, or I just need to go when I’m older. Either way, I probably won’t pay another visit anytime soon.