Almost every early morning during my walk from the BART station to my office, I walk past a couple of homeless people sleeping, wrapped up in tattered sleeping bags and blankets. One or two may have fashioned a little area for themselves out of cardboard. There is one man who routinely erects a camping tent, which looks particularly enticing when compared to what the others make do with. Some mornings the street is empty. It is still wet from when the city truck hosed down the street, to wash away the trash left behind and deter them from coming again. I’ve never been physically bothered by any of them. Of course I would rather not walk through a homeless encampment. The smell of urine is a bit too much at 6 in the morning.
But I love San Francisco. I won’t say outright that San Francisco is the best city in the world and I’m sure it isn’t. I don’t have a lot to compare it to, since in my short 28 years, there are huge swaths of the world and even my own country that I have not stepped foot in. What I do know is that San Francisco offers a multitude of neighborhoods (each with its own culture and flavor), gourmet foodie restaurants next to taco trucks, architecture that encompasses everything from Tudor, Victorian, to Modern, and of course famous natural and man-made scenery. All of this is squeezed into 46.7 square miles. There is so much packed into such a small space that you can still find something unexpected even if you’ve lived here your whole life.
One of those unexpected gems is Haig’s Delicacies on Clement Street in the Inner Richmond. Clement is home to a long boulevard of Chinese grocery stores and restaurants, so much so that it is often referred to as “New Chinatown.” Unlike the other Chinatown, you won’t find much tourists here. In my husband’s search for some Dutch products, we came across this combined deli and grocery store. Founded in 1956 by an Armenian immigrant and moved to Clement St. in 1972, Haig’s is known for its tubs of Hummus and Baba Ghannouge sold in stores like Whole Foods. In addition to Middle Eastern products, the store also has European products. You’d be hard pressed to find another store that sells British Heinz baked beans in tomato sauce, Dutch stroopwafels, and Polish sauerkraut alongside Falafel and curry power.
Taking up residence on Clement even longer than Haig’s Delicacies is Schubert’s Bakery. One of the best pleasures in life must be biting into a slice of their Swedish Princess cake. Consisting of white layers topped with raspberry jam and whipped cream and encased in green marzipan, it’s just about the cutest cake I’ve ever seen. It tasted just as good as it looked. A couple of days later I bought a pink princess cake from Copenhagen Bakery & Cafe in Burlingame. I don’t think I can fairly compare the two as by the time I got around to eating a slice of Copenhagen’s cake, it had melted a bit. But Schubert’s cake seemed to be more flavourful. I’ll just have to go back for more.
We tried to eat at Burma Superstar but unfortunately they were no longer taking customers for the day. We had to make do with King of Thai which serves consistently good food, though that particular location smelled a bit odd that day. It’s a shame as I’ve never had Burmese food before. The place was packed. If the multitude of excellent reviews are correct, it’s another thing I’ll have to come back to Clement for.