In terms of things to eat, I’m pretty lucky with where I live. I’m just a short walk away from Clement St, where you can track down a satisfying Bahn Mi, or the best red-tablecloth pizza joint in the city , or a veritable villa of tasty and impossibly cheap dumpling houses. Going down Clement can feel like going on a little adventure, a quick trip to another country where all bets are off, where you’re bound to stray from the usual because the usual is nowhere in sight. And this sense of adventure that’s triggered, it gets you to try new things, to go a little further off the map then you might be used to. Suddenly you’ve got that invincible vacation feeling and anything goes.
And it can be great. Last night dinner was at a little dumpling place I know only by sight and by sense memory. Somewhere on Clement between 5th and 6th is a little pink place with windows boasting egregiously thick Chinese donuts and trays on trays of steaming dumplings. The menu is expansive, dizzying and encourages trial. Why get mu-shu chicken when you can get wok-fried rice cakes with pork and greens (below).
That plus a platter of hand-crafted leek and shrimp dumplings plus a large-family size plate of pork with mustard greens over noodles. It was a lot of food. It was also $20.
But there are times when adventure can go a little too far. Especially when the adventure leads to Genki Crepe.
Genki Crepe always seems like a good idea at the time. “It’s so cute! It’s so fun! It’s packed full of endlessly amusing Japanese candy and packaged goods! We hardly spent anything on dinner, so let’s go be frivolous! I’m all jacked up on sodium and adventure that I could get anything! A crepe! Yes, a big crepe, the biggest one they have! Wait, they make them with ice cream? And cheesecake? Both? With whipped cream? Let’s get one! Ha ha ha this is so fun!“
And it is. It is fun. It’s fun until about five minutes after you bite into that sweet concoction that sets in a crippling stomachache coupled with a very, very intense sugar rush. All of a sudden the five blocks left to walk home seem impassable and all you’re inclined to do is giddily laugh, hold your stomach and wonder why, why , why you do this to yourself.
But it’s the adventure, the fun of it. The fact that in those five blocks you’ll discover another place to try. A little thai cafe or pho house with no legible menu in the window that just begs you to come in and explore. And to finish the adventure, you’ll wander into Genki Crepe, marvel at the candy and consider the strange sodas but, having learned your lesson, probably head out empty-handed.