Bless those rare summer paid federal holidays. And independence and all that jazz, too. This year, I took a friend to attend one of my family’s epic summer barbecues. The night before, we had a large amount of delicious Korean food, because we could.
I’ve featured them before on my blog. My favorites are their tofu soup and kalbi.
My Tofu House
4627 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94118
The next morning, bright and early, we set off for Muir Woods with the rest of my cousins. This was purely to burn a few calories to make room for the later foodfest. Here we have the very rare coin-accepting phone booth in its natural environment.
A few pictures of the big trees.
As one of our party put it, “We were all looking at trees and stuff and then–BAM! We suddenly had no idea where we were. And the brunch reservation for 11:45 was coming up quick.” Oh shit. After some puzzled map-reading, we took off at a fast trot. Our fearless leader determined it would be faster to go over the mountain rather than around it. Of course. Very logical.
Fuck that noise.
I think we all hated each other just a little for the next four or five miles going up and around and down. Half our party (the ones with proper shoes) made it back faster and they fled to the brunch spot. The rest of us just quietly seethed in rage while trying not to fall down the side of the mountain. The crap thing about hiking is that you can’t give up in the middle of it. There is no taxi to call and helicopter service is just a little on the expensive size. The only way to end it is to actually finish the goddam hike.
Eventually, we all met up at brunch where very average cocktails did nothing for our mood. The crispy onion appetizer was not onion rings–it was a plate of thin-sliced fried onions, like the kind you put on a burger. They were actually quite good but I cannot determine if it was due to hunger or if it was actually good. Regardless, I wish they were actual onion rings with substance. The accompanying sauce was tasty, though.
Their famous chicken wings had good crisp texture but not enough salt. The seasoning blend was pleasantly spicy. There was just. No. Salt.
Dusty, perplexed, and hungry, we very nearly revolted. However, the entrees made their appearance and general consensus was that they were all quite delicious. Up there is the smoked duck hash with poached egg.
Service good. Entrees good. Cocktails and appetizers meh.
15 Shoreline Highway
Mill Valley, CA 94941
We went home, feet as sore as those of the fabled twelve dancing princesses who had hiked over a fucking mountain at four miles per hour. After naps, we freshened up. Then we ate and drank to excess.
The next day we had proper hangover food.
This diner is a favorite of my brother’s. I like their corned beef hash which uses much more finely chopped corned beef than most other places. The food is mostly “American” with some egg rolls and other such items mixed in on the menu. As befits their Asian owners and staff–who are all pragmatism and efficiency–I have noticed they do not add garnishes to their foods. Note the lack of a wilted parsletic tuft gracing the food above. I approve.
Bashful Bull Too
3600 Taraval Street
San Francisco, CA 94116
After some sightseeing, we went to Alioto’s Restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf.
The first thing I ordered was an iced coffee. What I received was tepid bullshit. They simply poured hot coffee over a small cup of ice, which resulted in coffee that was neither hot nor iced. I had to ask for another cup of ice to pour the tepid bullshit over so I could have coffee that was lower than my body temperature. By the way, the iced coffee was twenty-five cents more than the hot coffee. Also bullshit.
We ordered some oysters and the first half dozen was fucking weak.
The second order was much, much better. I guess they gotta get rid of old stock first but for the prices they charged, there should be NO old stock waiting around. Or shitty mother shuckers preparing them (the second order was also better shucked–the oysters weren’t all cut up).
The clam chowder is pretty good, though, I’ll give them that. It is also $7.95. For a cup. :-/
I really hope they were having an off day, or perhaps they had rotated in their off staff, and were just serving off oysters. This place has a lot of history and prestige and waiters in penguin suits, none of which guarantees quality of food or quality of service. I’ll go back another time and I hope it’s better then.
8 Fishermans Wharf
San Francisco, CA 94133
More sightseeing and we ended up at one of my favorite places for dinner: Kevin’s Noodle House #2.
Few foods are as comforting, satisfying, and quickly served as the humble king of hangover cures known as pho. Pho is generally reasonably priced and if it is not, it’s probably because the restaurant is located in, and catering to, an enclave of moneyed hipsters with their fragile-fauxthentic lumberjack plaids. See: Los Angeles’ Westside vs San Gabriel Valley.
I will never not recommend the gastronomic spa known as Kevin’s Noodle House #2.
Go, and be sobered.
Kevin’s Noodle House #2
1833 Irving St
San Francisco, CA 94122
Did you want to read about my holiday weekend? Most of you, no. Some of you, maybe. I do know what you all miss and want to read about. Kudos to you for lasting this long through the inane prattle above and let’s get to it.
Let’s read about what it’s like to be a chick who went on vacation and ended up playing a few games of pool in a bar.
On my first night back in The City, my friend and I went to go catch up with my brother. There was a little bar we had always seen but never gone into as it honestly did not seem very welcoming. Gentrification does things, I guess, and this time around, the bar was well-lit inside and out with a big sign outside. We went in.
It was a nice place! Divey, homey, cozy little place with two pool tables. Neither my friend nor I were that interested in playing pool–both of us had cut back on practice and tournaments were nonexistent to us as we had chosen to concentrate on other aspects of our lives. Prices for drinks were very reasonable and after a few, my friend and I decided we would play a little pool. We asked the resident player on the table with less people if he would like to play. He said he wanted to finish his current game, and then he would be open to playing doubles. We were fine with that. We put down a quarter and went back to drinking. After two rounds of drinks, the game finished and we were up next. The two gentlemen on the table very graciously and very pre-emptively described to us how the game of eight-ball was played. We listened politely until they were done. And then the games began.
Rusty or not, the average bar player is not going to beat me or my partner in a game of bar table eight-ball.
We have simply put too many years into the game.
The taller of the two just could not believe it. He just could not. Play again, he said. So we did. And again. And again. He played until all the money he had on him (the place was cash-only) had been bled away from him four quarters at a time. His partner had long since deduced we were not average pool players, that we must have been–or still were–competitive players at one time. I asked him how he knew this. “Good athletes recognize other good athletes,” he said. “Your movements are too smooth. I’ve never seen girls play pool like you two except maybe on TV.” He played collegiate baseball and now wanted to know if we could give him any tips on bettering his pool game. His friend, however, was irritated and out of quarters.
“Well, I THOUGHT I was a good player,” Mr. Tall said. “But, I guess I WAS WRONG.” His tone belied an expectation of sympathy or validation.
“The world is a big, big place,” I said.
“What’re you saying?”
“That there are a lot of pool players in the world–and I’m average by their standards.”
And he tottered out into the night with Mr. Baseball.
“You know,” my brother said. “I know that kind of stuff happens to you girls when you play pool. But, I’m still surprised when I see it.”
We played on.
A retired CalTrans worker said he learned to play pool in the Armed Forces and had gotten pretty good, but he had never been anywhere at our level. Anyone at “our level” I said, must have spent a significant portion of their life on the game. I did not recommend that anyone should get to our level unless they were willing to miss out on life for at least a little while.
Two large burly men, one in a faded orange Hawaiian shirt, arrived. They did not order drinks. They came straight to the pool table, took one look at we two Asian girls and our Hello Kitty accessories, and demanded to play. Mr. Orange Crush was significantly better than his partner (who was also not bad). We actually had to play safeties. Orange Crush was obnoxious to the extreme. He asked me on one shot, if, as a girl, I thought I could make it. I said, of course, I couldn’t make it as a man, could I? On every one of our shots, he had to try to shark us. It was amusing as fuck. I had a hard eight-ball and bobbled it. Orange Crush stepped up and smoothly ran out three balls, making condescending remarks between the shots. I said quietly to my partner, “We might actually lose this one.”
“Oh my God, you just–fuck–you just can’t lose to these assholes,” my brother hissed. “Just–shit. Just don’t.”
I shrugged. That fate wasn’t yet ours to decide. We looked back to the table where Orange Crush was still talking about the inferiority of women and our lack of toughness in this “man’s game”. He had set himself up very well on his last object ball. Easy cut into the corner and the eight-ball I had bobbled waited downtable. He lined up, all hairy-chested confidence, and fired it right into the rail.
My partner made the eight and we looked at them. Orange Crush looked like he was about to have a stroke. CalTrans was cackling with glee in the corner. We continued staring in our best impression of the twins from The Shining. “Come play with us… forever and ever and ever.”
“FUUUUCK!” Orange Crush tossed his cue aside and stormed out with his partner in tow.
“They didn’t even drink,” my brother observed.
We drank on.
CalTrans’ beverage of choice was Fernet and he continued buying shots of it for us, although I did not have any. “It tastes like eucalyptus,” my friend said, with a wrinkle of the nose.
“Eww,” I said.
She shrugged and drank it anyway.
Pool was secondary to drinking, but that didn’t stop us from playing well enough to beat everyone we encountered that night. One player pointed to my brother and said, “He’s not playing.”
“Nah,” I said. “He doesn’t play pool.”
“Yeah? Is that, like, a hustle move or something?”
“No, he doesn’t play pool.”
“I don’t believe you. I bet he’s the best out of all of you.”
“Why, because he’s the guy in our group? Is that it? Is that why he just has to be the best player?”
“Yeah, that’s what I think.”
By this time, the other players in the bar were talking about how my brother must be our coach. Sure, I said, he’s our coach. Sarcasm detection is significantly reduced in the inebriated. They clamored for him to play. My brother insisted he did not play pool and to prove his point, he agreed to play a game with one of them.
My brother won.
The bar closed and we left.
We returned the next night without my brother. We recognized some people from the night before as they were regulars at this bar. They had brought some new people and once we warmed up with vodka sodas, the games began in earnest.
We settled by the same table we had played on the night before. After a couple of games, a player from the other table came over. “I notice you only play on this table,” he said.
“Eh, it’s the table we played on yesterday.”
“That’s your reason?”
“Yeah, why? Why would I need a reason?”
He straightened up and said down his nose, “Have you ever played on big tables before?”
“Yeah, what about them?”
“Then why aren’t you playing on that table over there?” He smirked. “Are you afraid of it?”
I went over the the table.
It was an eight-foot table.
“That’s not a big table. That’s an eight-footer.”
“Oh don’t make excuses. If you’re afraid of big tables, just say so.”
“Dude, there are bigger tables than that. You know that, right?”
“I know all about big tables and I know that’s a big table and you’re afraid of it.”
I looked him dead in the eye. Sometimes I wonder how this shit that happens is even real. “Yeah, you’re right. I’m totally afraid of it. Completely scared. You sit here and rule your little eight-foot kingdom, okay? Adios.”
A short, older man repeatedly came up to me and tell me I didn’t know how to play pool.
“Oh, are you a professional?” I asked. “If you’re a goddam professional, well then, of course, I wouldn’t know how to play as good as you.”
“No, no, I no professional. But, I not a girl.”
He tried to put his hand on my leg. I said, “Touch me and I’ll kill you.”
“Be nice, chica. Be nice now!”
“I don’t have to when I’m picking on someone my own size.”
After a score of nice friendly games, a tall pale ginger strode imperiously up and demanded to play the next game. Sure, I said. The game finished and we waited for him to put his quarters in. “What the fuck is this? I’m not gonna fucking play doubles.”
Irritation pricked through my pleasant fog. “We’re playing doubles. There’s too many of us in line and it goes faster with teams.” He stared at me, bristling with anger. “If you don’t have a partner, any of these guys will play.”
“That’s fucking bullshit.”
“Don’t play, then.” I pointed to the other “big” table. “There’s another table. Go play on that one.”
“Whatever, fuck it.” He put his quarters in the table. “I’ll play with him.” He had made a good choice of partner. The guy he picked was a pretty good player.
Throughout the game, this gingerkid was very hostile. We didn’t understand it. He was obviously sober and a pretty good shot. He repeatedly told me playing doubles was for pussies. Real players played singles only. Mano a mano. Fuck this pussy teams shit. His disdain for us was very, very clear. The game itself was complicated and my partner and I cranked up our seriousness. There were many clusters. We patiently moved balls into position but the layout would change as our opponents sent the cue ball zooming around the table after every shot.
They got to the eight-ball first. Gingerkid roughly called in his partner from where he was smoking outside to shoot the eight-ball. The shot afforded to his partner was an off-angle bank into the side with the eight-ball being frozen on the rail. It was not a good shot, but it was a very decent shot on a bar table. I looked at my partner and we resigned ourselves to the possibility of losing to this asshole of galactic proportions.
His partner double banked the eight-ball and almost made it in the wrong pocket. My partner cleaned up the rest of the balls and the eight ball. We silently shook hands with Gingerkid and his partner and went to get a drink.
“Fucking pussies, all of you.” This was Gingerkid. He turned to me, “You’re a fucking pussy for not playing singles. I’d kick your fucking ass playing singles.”
“You’re calling me a pussy?”
“Yeah, what the fuck you gonna do about it?”
“Well, here’s the thing. ‘Pussy’ as an insult is usually used on men–to tell them they are women. But, I am a woman. And you’re calling me a pussy. So you’re calling me a woman. Which, is, I don’t know, kind of NOT an insult.”
He thought for a moment.
“What the fuck?!”
He was obviously not impressed with my master’s degree in Pedantry from the Universiteit van Ketel One.
“I’m saying, it’s not an insult to call me a pussy. It’s only an insult if I were to call you a pussy.”
“Fuck you, bitch! I wish my sister were here ’cause she’d beat you the fuck up!”
“Call her up. The only way this party is gonna get better is with more chicks and a fight.”
He swore at me some more and flounced outside.
Ten minutes later he came back inside and offered his hand for a handshake. “Let’s shake hands and agree not to talk anymore shit.” I switched my drink to to my dry hand and shook his hand with my wet one.
Last call was called.
Outside, a ring of people had formed. A fight was in the stiff-legged, poseur stage. Gingerkid, it seems, had called another one of the bar patrons–a man–a pussy.
We went home.
.Bonus picture: bar with pool table.
The ball set had two nine-balls, so an asterisk was drawn on one to differentiate it.