SF Shopping: Sale at Sanko
San Francisco Bay Area readers should be sure to check out Sanko, a small store in Japantown I’d browsed before but hadn’t noticed their bento box selection. Currently having a Presidents’ Day 10%-off sale until February 23, 2008, Sanko has San Francisco’s best selection of higher-quality men’s bento boxes, including Asvel and Hakoya brands. Look for the innovative microwave-safe donburi bento box from Hakoya (“Don Don Lunch Box”, full review here), which I haven’t seen locally before. Prices are not extremely cheap, but you’ll find excellent quality things here you won’t find elsewhere. Courteous and helpful, their staff is known to occasionally serve tea to customers in lovely Japanese tea cups. (Click to read the full review…)
Their small bento section is located in the furthest-right aisle when you walk in; there you’ll also find some children’s boxes (3-tier nesting/stacking Lilo & Stitch boxes for about $11, a better price than nearby Moritaya) and nice Hakoya boxes for women in addition to the plain but sturdy large Asvel boxes for men. Bins outside have discount merchandise, but Ichiban Kan and Daiso are cheaper for things like onigiri rice ball molds. (Click any photo for a larger view.)
Sanko also has a good selection of unusual furoshiki wrapping cloths and Japanese-themed bandannas that are the right size for wrapping up a bento box (shown here). Reduced-price bandannas like the one shown at left are in a rack on the floor across from the bento boxes, furoshiki are hanging in the rear corner of the adjoining room. They have a lot of owl-themed merchandise, which evidently has become popular in Japan over the last four years as a symbol of good luck (fukurou, the Japanese word for owl, is a homophone for “no struggles” ä¸è‹¦åŠ´ or welcoming good luck ç¦æ¥æœ—) . Chinese traditionally regard owls as bad luck, though, so think twice before giving these to your Chinese friends!
If you’re in the area anyway, stop by the Ichiban Kan discount store and check out their reorganized store with new shelving. Their new shelves show off the products better so it’s easier to see the full variety without digging around. I’ve updated the SF Bay Area shopping guide for bento gear; thanks go to reader Uyek for the heads up on Sanko’s bento box selection. (Disclaimer: I have no commercial affiliation with Sanko.)
1758 Buchanan Street (in Japantown)
San Francisco, CA (415) 922-8331