Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Yum 11 - SF/Bay Edition!


Yeah - some things are better left unblogged.  However, the food at this SF Burmese place is soooo ravishing, I'm gonna post the pix anyway.  I'm not going to tell you where it is.  How bout this -- if you backchannel me, I'll give you the restaurant details.

Tofu and Okra - sooo good
Salmon with Snap Peas - perfectly cooked
Shrimp with Pumpkin - OMG

We also got the tea leaf salad (they fly the leaves in from Burma) and the samosa soup.  

The cool pool at the Phoenix

It has come to pass that many of my friends have moved to the burbs.  For this reason, I found myself needing a place to stay on my recent trip to SF.  I've stayed in a good bnb in the Mission, but decided I wanted somewhere a little car-friendly --- and then decided to fly.  Oh well.  Based on googling and some time spent on Trip Advisor, I settled on the Phoenix Hotel.  All in all, a good choice.  Really reasonable and close to lots of things.  The rooms were bigger than expected, well-appointed and the staff was fab and friendly and just the right amount of arty.  The breakfast part was also better than expected.  I thought it'd be a lot noisier, but except for some folks rolling their carriers through at 1am on Saturday, it was pretty quiet overall.

The only drawback is its Tenderloin location.  While you get off at Civic Center, you walk through the Tenderloin to get to and from the hotel.  I thought by now gentrification would've reached the area, but it is stubbornly holding onto its grottiness.  Still, the location can't really be beat - it's pretty central, close to BART and busses and MUNI.  And walking distance to a lot of places you may want to go.  Like...Little Saigon:

At the entrance of "Little Saigon"
I sent my fave color palette in advance.  BATH TUB!!!!


Wow - like 30 kinds of drip coffee made on the spot for you at Philz!  A couple of blocks from the Phoenix (they also have East Bay and South Bay locations), this place is awesome and was recommended by...everyone.

The baked goods are phenomenal and there are these samosa like things that are delicious.  They really open at 6am - even on weekends.

Of the kinds I tried, Philharmonic was my favorite coffee.

There's a Peet's right across the street if you're feeling less adventurous.


I was accidentally lucky enough to catch the splendiforous Mike McGee in his fun-tastic one-person show!  Once, I watched Mike win a slam at the Nuyorican doing about a 15-minute set -- he thought there was a time limit, as there usually is in slam, but there wasn't.  Not only did he captivate the audience for the entire time, he got the highest score of the night.  He didn't even mean to win!  Mike's like that.  You can pretty much count on wanting to listen to him a long, long, time.  He's honest, entertaining, funny and poignant.  His show gave me insight on the strange lifestyle I've chosen, which he has been living for some time -- wandering for your art.

If you can catch him somewhere, you won't be sorry.  Plus he gives good hugs.  Plus plus he has a new awesome book.

Speaking of books....

The Savage Detectives, 1st US EditionGREEN APPLE BOOKS is one of the BEST bookstores in the Bay, which is saying a lot considering how many amazing bookstores there are in the Bay!  Green Apple has been through it, hung around it, and is still it.  We wandered in there while waiting for a table at the restaurant that is not to be named.  I didn't want to get anything, but you know, there were just too many amazing books on sale.  

My friend decided I needed to read a Roberto Bolano book.  He got it for me.  He was right.  I'm half-way through The Savage Detectives and wonder how I never like met all these characters wandering around the poetry sphere.  What a luscious writer!  


A new addition outside SF City Hall - a gargantuan and fascinating Buddha sculpture.  I wish I could have really stood right out in the street for maximum views!


Here's the seal of the great state of California: 
In it's shadow I saw more homeless than I've seen since New York in the 80's.  I didn't take their pictures - that seemed like a final disrespectful action.  However, all around the government buildings and the squares, there were homeless in bus shelters, in doorways, pushing carts.  It was horrific.  No, it was shameful.  We should be able to do better than this.  

Do I feel guilty carting my $3.00 drip coffee around while people sleep on the street?  I feel conundrummed.  That's not a word, but it's how I feel.  In a place where there is so much money how can it be that people need to sleep on the street?  I had a friend who told me how he ended up in San Francisco, homeless, waiting on a job interview.  He survived quite some time like that.  Eventually, the job interview came through.  He managed to clean himself up for it, and get the job.  He turned his life around.  Not everyone gets to, though.  Wandering like I do, like Mike McGee does, it makes you sensitive.  Sometimes there are holes between where you think you are going to stay and where you are actually going to stay.  No one is that far from the street, no matter what they think about themselves.  No, I don't feel guilty.  I just happened to have a place to stay on those nights.  Or friends to call.  No one's that far from the street in a country where we deem that an acceptable way for some people to try surviving. 

I gotta go finish a book.  Mine.

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