Lower Haight, Pac Heights, East Wind Bookstore, See’s, Pakwan

Lower Haight
It has changed so much since I lived there. I was at the dentistry school nearby and decided to walk around a bit and see if all the crack houses were in full force. Nope, not at all, and even moreso a bar has turned in to (gasp!) a wi-fi cafe with wine AND beer. Rivalling some of the best cafes I know about, in reality. This is one of those situations where I just recently wrote about the neighborhood, nostalgia from 1996, and it has completely changed in the 10 year span. For the better, I’m sure.

I passed by two units that I had looked at while deciding to buy a place, and I wasn’t full of regret at all, there were far more nicer, funkier places around it. The thing is that lower haight, despite being cute and retro, is very self-contained. When I lived there I never really left. In North Beach I tend to walk around more and visit other neighborhoods. Speaking of…

Pacific Heights
Took advantage of my car being in a paid lot this morning and walked around Pac Heights. Is it me or has global warming stripped our atmosphere so now we get this blinding white winter glare? I don’t remember feeling this annoyed at sunshine before, especially in November.

Pacific Heights Index:
5: number of women over 40 wearing very spikey heels
3: number of women over 40 pushing strollers
3: number of people wearing ‘bittersweet’ chocolate store t-shirts
1: number of guys who stopped me on the street to ask where Peets was
0: number of men on the street (excluding guy asking me where Peets was)
10: number of guys in Peets

East Wind Bookstore
So I return to my haunt of my Chinese class days, the incredibly great East Wind Bookstore on Stockton at Columbus. Conversation I couldn’t really understand, overheard in Chinese. Something about Japanese people, Chinese people, learning Chinese, Americans, and this random guy in the bookstore came up and joined in and talked a lot about his grandson (a favorite topic of one of my old Chinese teachers as well… warning, generalization forming).

I evaluated about 20 different dictionaries before selecting a little red book. You’d think people publishing for Chinese, or for people going to China, would stay away from making a book that had any description similar to ‘little red book.’ Hmmm.

Long discussion with woman who works there about what is the best dictionary, and she revealed that like myself, has always used the dictionaries online (http://www.zhongwen.com ROCKS). She has a software CD that is incredible, she said.

I got a student discount, which kind of had me perplexed. “You look like a student,” she said in that super blunt funny way that most Chinese speakers have. “I wonder if that’s a good thing…” I responded. I’m so witty! I was pleased in a cheapness way, and displeased in a wow-i’m-looking-scruffy way.

Walked right to it, even though the entire way from North Beach I was racking my brain trying to remember which Market Street intersection it was on. Turns out, Sutter and Sansome. It’s funny, I’m a very visual landmark person and couldn’t remember what was nearby it. I just remembered that I had stopped there once on the way to Berkeley via Bart, and joked to myself that it was dangerously close to my work on Stevenson Alley.

Best thing about See’s is the sample they give you if you’re in line: today was some kind of carmel concoction that made my teeth literally hurt it was so sweet. Of all the chocolatier’s in the city, Joseph Schmidt is still my favorite. There was a wonderful moment once when some employees came into a bar and gave away samples. Ah….

This is one of the only Indian restaurants that doesn’t make me sick. Quite a selling point that they should broadcast on their signs, huh. “Won’t Make You Sick.”

I’m exceeding my once a week Pakwan rule, in that I had it on Saturday too. Aie!

The Clay Street location is a little secret. The Sacramento block one or two over, between Keary and Market, also has some secret gems that I used to go to when I worked 1 block over. A Thai place is hugely popular there. I wanted to try the bento box place as well but I had already told my stomach it was chicken tikka “crack” masala night.