Yesterday I got a chance to explore what’s called Little Chinatown over on Clement Street in Richmond. It’s a small area, about a ten block stretch, but I’d already heard about a few times. The old Chinatown near North Beach has become expensive enough that new immigrants can’t really afford to move there, so they’ve started a second smaller (and tourist-free) community out on the edge of Golden Gate Park. Based on the pubs that still crop up every block (and the giant “SF Celtic Supporters Club” mural on the side of a building coming into the area), I’d say it used to be a predominantly Irish neighborhood. But now the most common businesses are dim sum restaurants and tea houses, where groups of men sit and read the Sing Tao Daily and shoot the breeze over cups of tea and steamed buns. There’s also a big supermarket, a hardware store, several herb shops with beautiful and perfectly stmmettrical big clear glass jars lined up on wall shelving, produce markets, storefront acupuncture clinics, and an aquarium shop with the most amazing selection of live coral, sea anenomes and sea cucumbers I’ve ever seen.
Not that it’s completely Chinese, there are still the pubs and Green Apple Books & Music, yet another fantastic San Francisco bookstore. This one has both new and used books and music, so if you’re feeling less-than-flush it’s a good pick. There’s a couple of Russian places too, including a very intimidating-looking restaurant that looks like (and might actually be) the meeting place for the local Russian mafia. All said, yet another great little neighborhood off the beaten track and worth a visit, especially if you’re hungry.