After a week in the San Francisco Bay area (Fremont) to wind down my three weeks in the west, I return to Florida on Tuesday. After Vegas, San Francisco is my favorite American city and I’ve been here many times.
Since I don’t have to play tourist and visit all the usual sights, I’ve taken a leisurely approach to my visit. Friday, I spent the day in Berkeley, in the area around the University of California campus. I’ve not been here for many years and enjoy its electic atmosphere. It is a tourist attraction in its own right and we saw many tourists. UC Berkeley T-shirts and other souvenirs were selling well but I was more interested in the street vendors.
After arriving in downtown Berekeley on the BART train, we visited an Asian bakery (Korean, I think) and ogled all the exotic pastries, such as pineapple buns. I ended up with a Godzilla-sized “milk bun” which easily weighed a pound and which I ate on the steps of the UC student union.
Then, we checked out the campus groups promoting themselves with tables lined up on the student union square, which included a group handing out free condoms. There was also an Asian gay group. And a number of different Chinese groups.
There are lots of Asians in Berkeley, making it an Asian food paradise. A small food court in a former alley featured Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, sushi, ramen, and two Korean restaurants. Finding an “American” restaurant takes some effort.
We wandered along” notorious” Telegraph Avenue, where I bought a Tibetan ring and examined marijuana pipes. Medical marijuana is legal in California; recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado and I think it also just became legal in Oregon or Washington state. (Everyone who has tried medical marijuana remarks about it’s “pharmaceutical grade” potency compared to “street pot.” One inhalation is enough for a high and three inhalations will have you so high you cannot walk.)
Friday evening dinner was at a well-rated Korean BBQ restaurant (Bob Sang’s). At $25, its “all you can eat” is $5 more than the one in Vegas. And baby octopus is not one of the items.
Since I was with a light eater, we went with a $40 “combo for two”, which included many small appetizers, soup, and four meats. There was a lot of food but we managed to finish it all. The meats came to the table already cooked but I would have preferred to grill it at the table myself. Despite Yelp’s high rating, I did not like this place as much as the Vegas one. But their cabbage and radish kimchees (last two bowls below the rice) were very spicy and better than Vegas.
Saturday, I met up with a Manila high school friend for lunch at a Filipino restaurant in Daly City, which has a very large Filipino population. One option at House of Sisig is to eat a number of items “family style” on banana leaves and with your hands. We shared pancit bihon, pork “inihaw” (thin, grilled pork chops), and a breakfast dish with eggs, garlic fried rice and BBQ pork.
Beverage was calamansi juice, Filipino “lemonade” made from a small, lime-like citrus which I’m growing in a pot and just harvested my first crop. Besides a sweet beverage, unsweetened calamansi juice is good for squeezing onto pancit and any baked or broiled fish. For whatever reason, most Filipino restaurants in the U.S. I’ve been to have sweetened calamansi juice as a beverage but bring lemon to squeeze on pancit. I guess they want to save the juice for something they can charge for.
This is what the “family style” for four on banana leaves which you eat with your hands looks like:
After lunch, we wandered across the street to a Korean grocery. It was very interesting to see typical Korean foods. As usual, my esyes are always hungrier tahn my stomach but I managed to avoid buying anything. 😉
Today, it’s a different Filipino restaurant named after a popular island beach resort area in the Philippines: Borocay. Afterwards, we’ll check out some Fiipino stores. I’m looking for some things to bring home: champuy (dried, salted plum seed), sampaloc (tamarind seed with sugar), and other goodies I cannot find where I live.
After three weeks, I’m ready to be back home. Until my next trip…!