After a brief, yet leisurely time soaking in Sight Glass' lovely atmosphere, part II of our SF Snack adventure took us to Benkyodo in historic Japantown. Benkyodo offers a dizzying array of tasty mochis. It would take forever for an indecisive individual like me to pick one flavor, so I'm glad the choice was made for us by our trusty SF Snack Crawl organizer, Claudia. I'd had the traditional mochis before, so the one's Claudia chose, pictured above, were a nice surprise. Aside from the simple, cute, and elegant decoration (so Japanese!), I enjoyed the texture of the crepe-like outer layer before biting into the sweet, sticky rice layer. It packed the perfect little punch of sweetness, like an exclamation point at the end of a sentence.
Those mochis were gone in seconds, so after those tasty morsels, we made our way to Yasukochi's Sweet Shop where we were met with...
... a near-empty display case. The coffee crunch cake we had planned on diving into was sold out! Dee-nied!
We couldn't be too disappointed though. It just meant we would save room for more snackalicious treats. We made our way through the old shopping plaza to Kissako Tea for their mitarashi dango, a type of sweet dumpling. Those little suckers were messy, especially for sharing, but we didn't mind. When good food and great company are involved, who cares for a little mess?
After clearing our fingers of that sticky treat, it was time for more sweets of a Western variety. We walked the few blocks over to one of my favorite bakeries in the area, Baker and Banker bakery. [Side note: Their brownie bits chocolate chip cookie is one of the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever tasted, and I have high standards where cookies are concerned. Unfortunately the brownie bits cookie has kind of turned into my "white whale" because now whenever I stop by the bakery, they don't have it! Grrrr.]
When our group stopped in, I suggested we order their brown butter chocolate chip cookie (an awesome choice, but I still prefer the brownie bits) and another favorite of mine: the almond brioche toast. The brioche slice was such a hit with our group, a few of us ordered another slice to take home.
Our last stop, and probably the most anticipated among our group, was Smitten Ice Cream in Hayes Valley. Smitten is known for making their ice cream with the aid of a Kelvin machine, which uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the ice cream in a short amount of time. With the quicker freezing time, fewer ice crystals form in the ice cream, which means the texture and flavor is creamy and more pronounced. There was quite a long line (and deservedly so, the ice cream really is that good), and it was fun to chat and go over all the places we had stopped at. I ordered the creme fraiche ice cream flavor with pear caramel sauce and an extra topping of rosemary butter cookies on their handmade cone. It was divine! I loved the how the delicate pear caramel flavor complemented, but didn't overwhelm the subtle creme fraiche flavor. I'm a sucker for butter cookies, and the savory hint of rosemary was a perfect balance to the sweetness of the cookie.
And that concludes our awesome snack crawl adventure. Looking over these photos, what stays with me the most is the lovely company and easy-going attitude that we as a group shared. I also loved that our snack crawl was composed out of our own individual tastes. We didn't need a hip magazine or expert to tell us where to go. We let our own tastes lead us, and we were happy to share our favorite treats. There is already talk of another snack crawl, possibly in other parts of the Bay Area (Peninsula, East Bay, etc.), and I'm already looking forward to it.
Images by me