832 Cardero Street
It has been a few years now since I last visited this popular Korean lounge off one of the side streets of Robson. Hidden away from the main strip, its not always been on my radar so I was pleased to find Chungdam Ahn was still around after all this time. With a few boisterous friends in tow in search of some unique food and drink combinations, we headed to this part of Cardero Street and tucked inside to a pretty full room. With some lively music and a vibe that only excited, young twenty-somethings can bring to a place, it had all the markings of a good night to be had…
Fortunately, we were able to squeeze into the bigger corner table of the place, almost as if it was waiting for us all this time. Scanning around with my eyes, it was clear we weren’t the only group out for a hard night of eating and drinking, although there were some tables occupied just by couples on an evening out. A pair of female servers were buzzing from table to table, collecting orders and bringing out food from the kitchen area.
Apologies first of all for the crappy image quality, but it was shot with an older cellphone. Not sure if any of you have seen alcohol made and bottled (more on this later) in this politically isolated east Asian country. A blueberry-based alcohol, almost wine like is what this is. Purchasing it and carrying it around for a while in a bag, something strange was noticed. The outer box started to feel damp. Oh darn, was the glass broken? A quick check. Nope. A while later, some obvious liquid was showing up in the same bag and the label was now damp. Perhaps from all the movement in the hand carry? Was it really broken?
560 Hayes Street
San Francisco, CA 94102-4214
Most of the time, an establishment is somewhere you go to be served. Once in a while, you come across an establishment that you go to be educated. I get a great coffee education everytime i go to Transcend or Phil and Sebastians, a great wine education from Soif, and right in the heart of San Francisco, a great Sake education from True Sake.
The first dedicated Sake store outside of Japan, True Sake is an uncommon “liquor” store. First off, as the name suggests, they offer nothing but sake. Secondly, they are one part store, five parts school. Sake is not a very well understood beverage in North America- and with diversity and complexity similar to wine, there is a lot going on. In order to grow the market for their product, it is important that they explain, and educate users on the differences, and the diversity that is sake. Thankfully, they are both patient, and understanding.
The shop itself is clean, pretty, and simple. Sake is appropriately stored in a clean, simple environment.