At the end of that bustling Irving Street strip sits Sakura, a tiny little Japanese discount store run by a husband-wife duo. San Francisco has made a snob of me, I realized while initially walking past the store. I’m so over ramen (now I just make a whole can of beans for meals, and the sprinkling of asiago cheese on top makes it that much more gourmet).
But something turned me around and drew me in. So many ramen flavors. And such cheap prices. Silky, brightly-hued Japanese house slippers for under 5 bucks? Please. Blond dye meant for resiliently dark hair? Er, yes, perhaps. Pocky out the wazoo? Yep. And most importantly, cheap housewares rivaling IKEA in charm? For sure.
To be sure, there are plenty of things in Sakura that I had no mental explanation for. If you’ve ever wandered through the Japantown Mall and tried to make sense of the sudden shock of bright pink plastic gadgets festooned with pictures of smiling teenage girls, you know what I mean. But Sakura’s a little more low-key, a little more neighborhoody, and a hell of a lot cheaper. In my pocket: “prochops,” designed to make anyone wallowing in chopstick confusion an instant pro. Finally!
936 Irving Street
Photo Credit: Sakura