Last night I ate dinner a local Japanese restaurant. I was walking from the hotel down to North Beach. It was nasty, windy, raining so I was thinking that maybe I should turn around and eat at the hotel. I went past this little Japanese restaurant – Hotaru (1059 Powell St, Google Street View helped me find the name)
Hotaro or something like that. It was nasty so I decided to forgo my usual rule for restaurant selection (learned from a colleague – find the first restaurant that looks good enough then go to the next better looking restaurant) and dive back in.
A little four year-old girl, Rosemary, brought me my menu. Roy, a 15 month old, toddled around holding onto an elderly woman’s hands. A younger woman sat braiding another older woman’s hair. The woman with Roy said, “look at my Sister’s hair”. Everyone looked up and cooed appreciation. There was much discussion of how the young lady did her hair and the fact that she did it without a rubber band.
A man walked it and the elderly woman with Roy asked, “are you Willard’s brother? I’ve seen you at the library.” “Yes. This is Willard’s niece, Christine” he answered pointing out the young lady that he entered with. “Where is Willard?” ‘He is parking the car.’ “We haven’t seen Willard for a while.” ‘He usually comes early after work.’
Willard walked in a couple of minutes later. Everyone said hi. WIllard took up Roy and played with him. He introduced Rosemary to Christine. Others diners came in and said hi. Everyone moved around from table to table, chatting and catching up. I was quickly brought into the conversation.
It was a wonderful neighborhood hang out for these China town people. They walk over drive in from around the city to meet up and chat on evenings when they don’t want to cook. Everyone listened patiently to the elderly woman describe how she was just laid off from her job. They jointly watched the owners children while she ran the restaurant.
It was really a wonderful step into a welcoming local scene.