Tuesday, June 14, 2011


yoony and i took a quick trip up to san francisco relatively recently...probably spent more time on the road than in the city, so yay for that, interstate highway and byway system. you own us.

my favourite place to stay in SF is hotel tomo. it's small, quirky, quiet, and if there's a big stonking earthquake, i feel like i have a slightly-more-than-infinitesimally small chance of surviving than if i was in a bigger hotel. i could be wrong, but i like being deluded like that.

tomo 1

tomo is in japantown, which may have changed since i was in high school, but doesn't really feel like it. it feels like a sleepy, comfortable pocket of the city with cobblestone streets and pedestrian walkways, stone courtyards and indoor bridges. it's not particularly noted for its culinary fare (hello benihana!), but it has some great bakeries and decent comfort foodie caf├ęs that sometimes i would rather visit than whatever is culinary en vogue.


caramimi urged me to stop by at benkyo-do, a small diner and sweets shop directly across from tomo. check out the swanky website, which is lovely, but doesn't really does not convey the vibe of this little shop at all. it looks like it hasn't changed since....the seventies, at least, the sixties is not a stretch at all--but it is charming, tidy and light-filled. one half of the shop is a diner counter with a couple of tables and possibly half a dozen things on the menu board, and the other half is a sweets and snacks-filled counter with senbei, packaged sweets, and trays of freshly made mochi and manju. mochi is glutinous sweet rice steamed and pounded into a paste then molded into bite-sized treats that are sometimes filled with fruit or bean paste. manju are other sweet treats that are filled with bean paste, but made from a variety of different flours, grains, shapes and techniques. it's a sweet sweet shop, but very, very quirky, which of course, i like.

man, i want to tell you the quirky stories, i really do, but i feel like i might be banned from the shop if i do. so, let's just say if you go, you might walk out with a story of your own, along with some of the most tender, tastiest, freshest mochi and manju i've had. the age donut with red bean paste, dorayaki pancake with whole red beans, habutai white steamed mochi with red bean paste are very good, but my new favourite has to be the blueberry mochi, filled with teeny, tiny blueberries in a not-too-sweet goo that complements the glutinous rice nicely.

the mochi and manju are made fresh every day they are open (closed sundays), but often sell out way before the shop's 5pm closing time. take a moment to stop by.

cherry blossom japantown 1

1747 buchanan street
san francisco 94115

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