Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I Found the Square Plate Store

A couple of months ago, I was trying to locate a tamis. Sur la Table was no help ("And what is a tamis?"). I went online and somehow came up with a store in San Francisco, previously unknown to me.
The store, called Kamei, is in San Francisco's "other" Chinatown, the Richmond. It seemed unlikely I'd find a tamis there.
And that's where the story languished, until yesterday.
We had business in the neighborhood, and managed to find a parking spot right across the street from Kamei.
Horrors, it looked like the "Everything's-a-Dollar" store. Stacks of plastic bins outside on the sidewalk, white and gleaming, yes, but unpromising.
Still, we went inside.
First thing we noticed was a rack of strainers. But no tamis. "We're in the wrong place," I said to Cranky.
We prowled up the length of one whole aisle, where strainers and colanders and spiders and sieves seemed to be arranged in taxonomic order: increasingly "tamis-like," but no seegar.
Then we rounded the end of the aisle, and bumped into a stack of them, all sizes. A stack! I picked out one I liked, and... the price tag said "$5.50". I am dead serious.
OK, my pulse racing, I tore up one aisle and down another, just to see what else this store sells.
Plates (square plates!). Egg timers. Gadgets. Sake sets. Cutting boards (giant cutting boards if you want). Charming Asian pottery. Knives. Rice cookers. Bento boxes.
Forgive me, I don't know what else is offered because it was simply too exciting and overwhelming.
And the prices! Verrrrry reasonable. No, I'll just say it. Really inexpensive.
We had to scamper off to our appointment, but I am SO going back.

33 comments:

Zombie Mom said...

Kamei is one of my most favorite places on the planet and most of my daily dishware is from there.. I was just there last month buying some new fab rectangle and oval plates to make beautiful tomato displays on.... they rotate their stock frequently and its well worth checking in on a regular basis - or at least that is my excuse...

Dagny said...

You know that I am the child of the woman who had a serious problem when it came to shopping dinnerware and almost anything else kitchen related. She is also big on bargains. Needless to say, I would be more than happy to join you on a future shopping trip.

Dagny said...

Oh my. I just read Zombie Mom's comment. I am definitely there. Because I have seen her daily dishware. Squeee!!!!

kudzu said...

Kamei! Mecca!
I ran in just before closing about two weeks ago and scored hinged metal tongs for $1.49. Really. Honest. You can find almost everything you need there and so much you don't need but want that it gives you a headache -- but worth the Tylenol. Let me see, I need some new pasta bowls and another vegetable cleaver...and,and,and.

Anna Banana said...

Gaaah, I used to live on 28 Ave. and Clement. I would go back in a flash.

dancingmorganmouse said...

I love that sort of shop, so much time can be awasted wandering and discovering, such fun.

dancingmorganmouse said...

ooh, & ping me an email (dancingmorganmouse@yahoo.com.au) if you want "in" ;0

Nik Snacks said...

What? Sur La Table let you down? Those bastards!

I want a Kamei, too :(

Passionate Eater said...

Sigh, I'd love to have one of those out here.

Katie said...

Why do you tease me so...

Anna Haight said...

Yep, bingo, great store! I have a hard time not bringing too much back!

Sam said...

what a great discovery and thank you for sharing. This is what blogs are for, no?

cookiecrumb said...

Zombie Mom: I'm twitchy to return. I may need to buy a storage locker at Home Depot to store all the stuff I know I'm going to buy.

Dagny: Double good; your mom and Zombie's stunning collection. Inspiration.

Kudzu: Such prices. Worth the $5 bridge toll, even! And, and, and.

Anna Banana: I hope you visited this store when you were in the neighborhood. Or... come on up!!

Morgan: I also get totally absorbed by stationery stores; all the pens and papers and books and boxes... And I bet you do too.
I want in. I don't know what I'm in for. :)

Nikki: A friend calls these discoveries of places you weren't even remotely aware of "Brigadoon experiences." I hope you actually have a Kamei, but you just don't know it yet.

PE: Did you ever go to Kamei when you lived in SF??

Katie: I guess I'm boasting. I also wanted my Bay Area pals to know about this; apologies to you outside the region.

Anna Haight: So you already knew! Good for you.

Sam: Blogs are for this, and lots more, I've discovered. Like knowing you.

Mrs. L said...

Okay, I had to admit, I had to go look up what a "Tamis" was. But that store looks like I need to go there...soon. I've always loved checking out local oriental stores. I found one next to a sushi place a couple of weeks ago...small store but so much of it needed to go home with me.

Barbara said...

That's my idea of heaven.

Zoomie said...

Sort of like an Asian DeHillerin. Very cool.

Lannae said...

OK Cookie, the deal is, I got relatives in Richmond. They have lived there a long time, and probably were some of the original seeds to make it the "other Chinatown". Next time I am in town to hang with my peeps, I am going to this store! Thanks for the FYI!

cookiecrumb said...

Mrs. L: I put a link to a tamis page in my post so you could find out what one is. I just learned about them this past year.
Aren't those stores awesome? There's something about the slight foreignness that's very alluring.

Barbara: And it's really clean, super organized, and the staff is nice! Double heaven.

Zoomie: Now I have to go look up DeHillerin.

Lannae: To clarify, Richmond (the city) is in the East Bay, and "the Richmond" is a district in San Francisco. When you visit your relatives, you will have to go to SF (which you want to do anyway) to see this store. But maybe you meant your relatives live in "the" Richmond! :P

dancingmorganmouse said...

Cookie stationery shops yes indeedy, and proper old-fashioned hardware shops.

Heather said...

Ack! This looks just like Cash N Carry, my new favorite place to blow my load on gallon jugs of olives and industrial-size woks.

You found yourself some nice square plates. No more snickering!

Also, today I scored some lovely Obama kneesocks. Jealous?

cookiecrumb said...

Heather: I forgot to mention the industrial-sized woks! This place is scary. But no olives.
You must credit me for never having actually outed you in the square-plate blog... And yes, I "found" them, but I haven't bought any yet. (They seem so mathematically provident, storage-wise, however.)
I cower in unworthiness at your Obama socks.

june2 said...

My mother is the master of finding stores like this. The family moved a lot but she has some sort of radar for them. No, she's not even Asian, she's Polish! A Polish person with a deep love of kimchi, aged garlic and unfamiliar kitchen gadgets. I did not have an all-American childhood, needless to say, lol...

cookiecrumb said...

June2: I believe I'm part Polish. My parents are hugely wiggly on heritage, although I've been told there's some Irish in there and maybe French. Still...
I admire your mom's wild tastes. Oh gosh, I've got to have aged garlic. :)
Aged garlic!

KathyF said...

I love those kinds of stores. I would spend hours there.

Nik Snacks said...

oh, and there is no kamei. I checked. !@*&%

brett said...

Kamei is one of San Francisco's gems. Half of my kitchen comes from that awesome store.

cookiecrumb said...

KathyF: It felt so *wrong* to have to dash in and dash out. I'm scheduling a longer visit for next time.

Nik: No fair.

Brett: I feel like I've exposed a secret. See you there!

Passionate Eater said...

Oop, sorry for my late response. I would hit up various "bazaars" in Chinatown and other dollar looking stores around Clement, but I can't say I visited Kamei. C'mere Kamei! Bad pun, I know. :(

Clare said...

I used to live across the street from Kamei - when I was a starving college student and couldn't afford even the 99 cent store! As soon as I graduated and got a job, I was at that store way too often. They have the most gorgeous Asian pottery plates that I would buy as Christmas gifts for friends/family back in LA. BTW, next time you are there, walk a few blocks up to King of Thai Noodle House for a delicious bowl of sliced beef noodle soup.

cookiecrumb said...

PE: Well, come on back. Give it a visit!

Clare: I'm going back to Kamei tomorrow; so excited.
We DID look into the King of... But jeez, it was PACKED with people; no tables. Cool.

Tea said...

Ah, Kamei--be still my heart!
I love that place (although beware of their icky return policy). One of my fave SF afternoons is Green Apple, Burma Superstar (and the funky Japanese convenience store/crepe shop across the street), and Kamei. Yay for Clement St.

cookiecrumb said...

Tea: Hi! Yeah, they only give you a week to bring something back. We're doing the Green Apple/Kamei version of your dream afternoon today. Got a date in SF tonite. :)

katiez said...

I want square plates!!!