Archive for the 'San Francisco' Category

SF Photos: Final Installment

Update: Finally finished up sifting and editing – enjoy!

View entire set on flickr.

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25 Years of Asian-American Film

Jeff Yang writes an interesting history of the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM, formerly NAATA) for the SF Chronicle today, roughly a month after the end of the 25th annual Asian-American Film Festival in the Bay Area. His narrative gets at some great points about the direction of media, as well as film’s importance in representing the shifting nature of Asian-American identity.

Excerpt:

I’ll admit it: Two years after its name change, I still find myself referring to the Center for Asian American Media by the organization’s original acronym, NAATA. I’m just so used to the nickname’s catchy two-syllable rhythm (though the jury was always out on whether the correct pronunciation was “Natta” or “Notta” — tomayto, tomahto). Also, whenever I mention “CAAM’s film festival,” people think I’m talking about the South of France.

So yeah, there are downsides.

But there are upsides, too. The new name reflects CAAM’s ambitious plans to expand its mission and audience as never before. And ultimately, as staffers point out, the change was more or less inevitable. […]

[Read the full article on SF Chronicle]

Photos from SF (The first 100)

I’ve been busy sifting through my San Francisco photos and doing a bit of color tweaking, enjoy the first 100 on flickr now – another hundred or so are on the way. In the coming week, I’ll be going back through my posts from SF and adding in the appropriate photos and captions, so check back soon!

view rest of set on flickr.

Day 7: I left my heart…

Tony Bennett knew how it felt to leave the City by the Bay – everywhere else seems a bit blue, and far away the foggy hills call you back home.

Our last day in the city was fittingly dreary and grey, but we enjoyed our morning nonetheless as we scooped up syrupy bites of French toast, Belgian waffle and fresh fruit in the window corner of The Crepe House. We walked back to the apartment slowly, taking in the sights of newly familiar streets for the last time, and after packing up the odds and ends, solemnly put the keys under the mat and left.

As we came up from under bay, zipping along on the BART towards Oakland, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, just to say goodbye. Before we stepped into the airport I took a deep breath – the air smelled sweet, in the way only San Francisco air could.

*PS. Photos are on the way – check back in a day or so, they’ll be up as soon as I finish sorting and tweaking.

Day 6: Twin Peaks, Smoky Bar

San Francisco is probably the last place you’d look for some good grits – which is a shame, cause you’d be missing out on J’s Pots of Soul.

This cozy restaurant with a purple ceiling serves some of the best breakfast I’ve had anywhere, and I’m a breakfast person, so that’s saying a lot. We had passed by it on our way to the Haight, and our NFT guide had backed up our hunch that it would be good – but I doubt my words could do justice to the fluffyness of the pancakes, the surprising spicyness of the sausage, or the heartyness of the grits. I felt a comforting bliss sipping coffee out of a mismatched mug as soft Jazz swam through streams of morning sunlight.

As a cherry top to our SF trip, my girlfriend and I decided to make a trek to Twin Peaks – the highest point in the city. While we expected a stunning view, what we weren’t prepared for was such gorgeous scenery on our way to the top; the winding streets were silent except for birds and the occasional siren heard from the city below, and the homes were both awesome and quaint. Our favorite was 00 Pemberton St., a small house wrapped in ivy whose only entrance is on a hidden stairway leading up the hill – dare to dream, I guess.

Reaching the summit of Twin Peaks, the entire city sprawled out before us in all of its glass, iron and human beauty. San Francisco, with the many parks and beaches and random patches of green, is perhaps the best example of symbiosis of city and nature – thank god the folks who work for the Seattle tourists bureau don’t work in SF, or they’d have some awful slogan too.

At the top of the city we reflected on our trip, all that we had seen and done, as we gazed out to the bay, feeling our own breath flying out into the breeze – a moment of stillness in this temporary heaven.

On the way back down, some girls (who probably should’ve been back at high school) asked us for directions – we had no idea – and then very nicely offered us a lift, we declined. We wound back through the streets, still enraptured with silly ideas of one day being wealthy enough to live in these quiet homes. I fantasized about flying down the hills on my bicycle when I roadtrip back to SF this September…Janice told me to be careful.

We bussed back to Japantown, hopeful for a delicious sushi meal at Isobune – we were disappointed. Though the floating boats carrying sushi plates around the center bar make this a uniquely cute spot, the lack of anything other than very basic (and rather mediocre) sushi fare is unredeemable. We ate five plates between us (we would normally do 10 or so) before deciding to simply forgo the rest of lunch. Feeling a bit bummed and tired, we walked out into the Peace Plaza to lay out in the shade.

Continue reading ‘Day 6: Twin Peaks, Smoky Bar’

Day 5: Tea Garden, Richmond

The cafes in Hayes Valley are some of the best in the city – not necessarily because the coffee is the best, but because of the sleepy air of urban harmony that wisps through the neighborhood in the morning. There’s nothing better than sitting on a quiet, sunny street while sipping espresso and munching on a pastry, watching as people open up shop, walk the dog, smoke the first cigarette, or read the morning headlines.

The city buzzes and roars around you, tingling back to life – but everyone in Hayes is still respecting the morning peace.

Such was Tuesday morning at Cafe La Vie, a tiny coffee shop on Octavia with garage doors that fly open on beautiful mornings to blur the lines between cafe and street. The coffee was excellent, as was my blueberry danish, and sitting outside in the warm spring air brought a moment of stillness to our quickly-evaporating trip.

The first time we visted Golden Gate Park we rented bicycles, which kept us from entering the Japanese Tea Garden (mind that if you make a trip and only have limited time). But we had heard that the place was amazing, an absolutely must-see, so we made another trip up that way.

The entrance fee was $4, but well worth it. We were lucky enough to come when the cherry blossoms were in full bloom, and the garden was lush and green – loose pink petals floated in the air and trickled down small waterfalls as visitors sipped tea in the teahouse. Even though it was a weekday, the garden was pretty busy, but not so much that we couldn’t steal away to a quiet corner and savor the wafting scent of wildflowers.

Feeling rejuvinated, we decided to bus it to Chinatown for lunch – but without a particular place in mind. For future reference, this is not something I would recommend doing; Chinatown booms with a plethora of restaurants, and finding a particularly mind-blowing place is difficult to do without prior knowledge. Reader, learn from my mistake and consult a local.

We did wind up at a so-so place called The Pot Sticker that had particularly good sesame chicken, but nothing to write home about. The more remarkable thing about the restaurant was the group of Chinese women earnestly praying at the middle table following their meal – after about 10 minutes of ceaseless whispered prayer and random “amens,” they all stopped, stood up and said smiling goodbyes …

Continue reading ‘Day 5: Tea Garden, Richmond’

Day 4: Japantown, Fillmore

Monday morning I experienced my first frustration with the NFT guidebook: steering me wrong when in came to breakfast in Japantown. Don’t want to make the same mistake? Read on…

Your guidebook might list Murata’s as the only place to get a cuppa joe near Post St. (where the heart of Japantown is), but take heart that there are alternatives to weak french roast and Costco muffins. Just past Murata’s – in the same building (1737 Post St.) – you’ll find Andersen Bakery, which is a chain but has a wider selection of pastries and at least one traditional Japanese bread called “anpan.” Also in the same building (but listed in NFT under “restaurants”) is May’s Coffee Shop, where they serve up some decent “taiyaki,” or fish-shaped donuts with various fillings.

But if you want my suggestion on getting a modern Japanese-style breakfast, I would hit up any one of the grocery stores in the area for some canned coffee and sweetbread – it’s an aquired taste, but a delightfully sugary way to wake up.

Japantown is home to possibly one of the best inventions ever – a food mall. Most restaurants don’t open until 11 a.m. or so, but it’s fun to drool over the menus (or plastic food replicas?) and wander in the stationery shops until lunchtime.

We ate lunch at Iroha – a second story restaurant just across the street from the Peace Plaza – that has awesome traditional ramen. Their lunch specials run from 11 – 5 at about $10, and they have delicious broiled eel (unagi) as a sideplate.

After hauling our stash of Japanese candies and other goodies back to the apartment, Janice and I ventured out to the Fillmore District to poke in more shops and restaurants. The coolest thing we found were soap sheets for use during travel; each package has 30 sheets, and you can buy them either as body wash or laundry soap, and you just mix them with water. It’s a neat idea, but not at $6 a pop – I’ll use the laundromat, thanks.

Our favorite spot on Fillmore was the Grove cafe, with great wooden outdoor seating, rich espresso and a rustic feel (and cheese plates! Sadly, we didn’t try…). We sat out there in the California sun, reading and solidying our flip-flop tans for hour or so – a perfect medidation.

Later that night, our SF trip culminated in a beautiful moment – eating burritos in the Mission District, which is famed for it’s mind-blowing Mexican cuisine. We had gotten a hot tip from a friend that El Toro Tacqueria (on 17th & Valencia) was the spot, and oh my god what a burrito! Seriously, like five pounds of refried beans-pork-guac-rice goodness. All I can say is try the carnitas, and eat it all.


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