We live on the edge of the Mission which is the Latin American part of San Francisco. I think one of the reasons I like it so much is that it feels properly abroad whereas Noe Valley feels a bit like posh parts of London with American accents.
Other parts of San Francisco are distinctly Asian - Sunset and the Richmond, and of course Chinatown and Japantown. We had two days out in the latter two - both a rather touristy but not wholly so. Japantown is mostly shopping centres. I may not have quite found the "authentic" centre of Japantown but it did rather feel to me like far too many opportunities to buy Hello Kitty accessories. This of course pleased the children no end but after the visit to Scrap, oh my god the prices! We also bought sushi of course - Lottie was singularly unimpressed and Emilia likes to deconstruct her sushi and remove the bits she doesn't like. And we found a lovely shop that specialises in origami and had an exhibition of utterly amazing origami. I mean just look at this:
A week later I took the girls to Chinatown. We've been before of course but not really explored it properly. This time we took our time. I bored them by looking at food shops - the oddest looking dried things that could have been animal or vegetable, I honestly don't know. Must find someone who does know to show me around the shops some time.
Then we spent a bit of time in Washington Square where they ran around on the play equipment and I watched elderly Chinese Americans playing checkers and cards. After that we had won ton soup which turns out to be a very popular choice especially with Lottie.
And then we pottered about, visiting the Fortune Cookie factory and an unusual music shop which sold gongs, erhus (the two stringed Chinese instrument) and wooden flutes. Finally we visited a bakery and bought Lotus and Bean Moon cakes. These are pastry filled with a slightly sweet paste - the lotus ones taste a bit peanuty and the bean paste is rather like chestnut paste.