Friday, September 16, 2005

Japantown's faux food

Why, I ask you, merely put out a menu describing the dishes served within, when you can have astonishingly accurate plastic replicas of every meal, right outside for viewing? In Japantown, San Francisco's quiet Japanese community just south of Pacific Heights, this is the norm for the string of sushi and bento box joints in the Japan Center shopping mall.

The mall itself, one side of which flows from the Raddison Myaka, is a maze of enticing specialty shops where one can find real treasures among the stacks of mass produced touristy rice bowls and chopsticks. I barely managed to pull myself from a stack of ancient kabuki scripts before I made my escape, wallet intact. My japan-0-matic sister, however, made off with two hundred bucks worth of incense. Incense! I thought of giving her a piece of my mind about that, but hell, I've spent that on wine, so who am I to say?

I found a shop nearby that sold the artificial delicacies, and found out just how impressive a large display like the one above really is. These things are expensive. A pile of tempting tempura like the one below goes for about ten bucks a shrimp.

Plastic replicas of sushi are so fascinating, I wanted to decorate my whole house with them. This feeling, thankfully, passed.

Mifune, I think, was my favorite of the three restaurants we visited. God, how I love bento boxes and big bowls of steaming noodles with every conceivable protein source floating happily within. I ordered the Samurai plate, and got both a huge plate of sashimi, tempura, salad, tofu with benito and fish cakes and a giant bowl of noodles on the side. Lord have mercy! That's good eatin'. There's also the added bonus that, while sitting in the dimly but warmly lit dining room, watching people toodle by, it is a sustainable fantasy that you're really in some quiet, outlying suburban town in Japan.

The real food is exactly like the replicas, only edible and delicious.

More on my trip to San Fran, comin' up.


PS. Why is my post in italics below this picture? I wish I knew. I can't freakin' fix it.


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