Occasionally, my husband, daughter and I go to San Francisco’s Japantown located at San Francisco’s Western Addition, which is approximately one mile west of Union Square. This trip happens whenever we crave donburi. For us, there is no place like Japantown to eat donburi. Since we moved 50 minutes from the city, the trip only happens at least four times a year.
Fortunately, the three of us always look forward to our Japantown trip because we each have our own reasons why, aside from donburi, we go there. My daughter, for example, is into manga, J-Rock, Gundham and Yugioh cards, while my husband likes to collect Japanese samurai items and toys. I like the cheap items they sell at the discount shops at the upper level of the Miyako Mall, where I buy office organizers, Japanese ingredients, seasonings and cookware.
In between shopping, we eat at one of the Japanese restaurants located inside Japan Center. I must warn you though, the best dining spots are always full during lunch and dinner times, so you should plan to come early. We always plan our trip at around 10 a.m., shop at the discount stores first, and then at approximately 11:20 a.m., we proceed and wait until our favorite restaurant, Osakaya, opens at 11:30 a.m. As expected, there was already a small line forming even before they lit up the “open” sign.
We usually order dragon rolls and tempura a la carte for appetizers. For our main meal, we order donburi and soba with eel and rice. Osakaya has a wonderful selection of entrees, but you can also order their lunch specials at $10.95 each, which come with an entrée, two sides, a soup and hot green tea. We always have leftovers, which we bring home to enjoy later. For the three of us, a tab totaling $78, which includes the tip, is really worth it.
We then proceed to buy videos, manga books, Yugio game cards and toys. During our recent trip, my daughter had managed to include some magazines and posters of Gundham characters and J-Rock bands. Last stop is at our favorite snack place at the ground floor of Kintetsu Mall, a small spot just beneath the staircase where we buy Japanese mochi balls for dessert. Sometimes, we try one of the three crepe shops; however, for me, Japanese mochi balls are the best. I can enjoy eating mochi balls while sitting on a bench near the mini-Osaka temple. I always buy extra boxes of mochi balls to bring home.
When you visit Japantown in the summer, try sitting outside Japan Center, in between Kintetsu and Miyako Malls, right at the Peace Plaza, where you can enjoy some rare San Francisco sun.
Japan Center Garage Corp.
1610 Geary Boulevard,
San Francisco, CA 94115
T: (415) 567-4573
F: (415) 567-1004