San Francisco plane

Shop until you drop: J-Town, Chinatown, Union Square & SFMOMA

With the amount of moving around and sightseeing we were doing in San Francisco, Hannah and I were glad that we had bought the CityPASS. As I previously mentioned, one of the features of this package was that we got 7 days of MUNI and cable car transportation. Each MUNI ride costs $2.25, and each cable car costs $7, so if we calculated the number of times we used the bus system, we’d definitely gotten our money’s worth!

This would have been a camera photo heavy day, but I decided not to do weightlifting and instead used my phone for these shots. I figured we would be doing a lot of shopping and eating, so I was actively trying to avoid the tourist look.

Our first stop in Japan Town was the Daiso – a popular Japanese dollar store. Compared to those in Tokyo, this one is like the annoying little sister of Daisos. Miniature in size, but still exploding with cute, useless (or useful?) gadgets and food. As a disclaimer, I am that annoying little sister 🙂 I think we spent a good 1.5 hours just in this store. I’m glad Hannah and I weren’t actually in the big brother of Daisos in Japan.


J-Town’s Japanese Pagoda

We hunted down a Japanese mochi shop, Benkyodo (1747 Buchanan St)- a company that handmakes their mochi fresh everyday with a variety of flavours. Some are made seasonal, which means we have to come back for another visit to try different mochis. The shop owners were a very nice couple and we could tell it was a very local place – the gentleman seemed to know the regulars and their usual orders. We sat down to try the Kinako (smooth red bean, sprinkled with soybean flour), the Pink Habutai (pink mochi with smooth white lima bean) and the Blueberry mochi. Yum! Fresh mochi is definitely the way to go. There was another highly recommended shop selling coffee cake, but we had the most difficult time finding it, so we gave up and moved on to Chinatown.


Clockwise from left: Kinako, Pink Habutai, Blueberry

In Chinatown, we had a dim sum lunch at the Good Mong Kok Bakery (1039 Stockton St). This is a typical Chinese bakery – you buy and leave immediately. There is nowhere to sit and people are basically rushing you to get out of the shop. However, the dim sum is delicious and the portions are large. I swear, the BBQ pork bun was the size of my hand! Unfortunately I have no photos because we gobbled up all the food fairly quickly.

We then had our biggest disappointment of our trip. The Golden Gate Bakery (1029 Grant Ave), famed for their custard tarts was closed for vacation. Hannah was inconsolable. But alas, we moved on.


Lanterns @ San Francisco’s Chinatown

We were able to take a cable car to reach our next destination: SFMOMA. If I had to pay $7 each time I rode one, I’d insist on sitting on them for hours as it went up and down the streets. The historical cable cars are very cool – but make sure you’re able to jump up and down the steps as they are pretty high. I imagine the trolleys require quite a bit of maintenance and upkeep to run, so the steep $7 ride does make sense.


San Francisco’s Powell-Mason Cable Car

For the artsy people, you’ll want to visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – open until 9pm on Thursday for their late night event, it’s a very popular museum full of paintings, photographs and structures. At $25 (not included in our CityPASS), it’s a pretty good price to pay if you’re an art appreciator. There are security guards posted in every room, so no running!


I circled this three times – does anyone else see a penguin?

We did some last minute shopping in Union Square, and had dinner at the Grove Yerba Buena (690 Mission Street). Set up like Richtree Market, I’d have to say the seasonal vegetable lasagna was really good – much better than most veggie lasagnas you can get in Toronto. The Christmas lights strung up on the indoor trees created a nice atmosphere for our last night in San Francisco!

All personal photos – KW



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