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Best Specialty Kitchen Stores In The Bay Area
Recognized far and wide for its reputation as a foodie haven, the San Francisco Bay Area has more than its fair share of kitchen stores. Aside from the obvious chain store names, have you visited any of these independent sellers? Every cook has specialties, of course, but these five stores are well worth knowing about whenever you need something in particular or just want to while away the hours exploring a cook’s heaven.
604 Main St.
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
Meet your destination cooking, kitchen and specialty food store rolled into one. Speaking of rolling, the baking section has non-stick perforated French loaf pans for creating perfect Parisienne-style baguettes. Scout out gizmos for the gourmand, adorable aprons and Half Moon honey while savoring a scrumptious sample or two. Sign up for cooking classes, browse the cookbooks or collect cooking tips during in-store chef’s demonstrations. Ever wonder about the difference between a slow juicer and a centrifugal juicer? They’ve got the answers and all the neat tools any home chef could ever need.
1758 Buchanan St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
Bring out your inner Benihana chef in your own kitchen. In the shadow of Japantown’s pagoda, this shop is a go-to for genuine Japanese ceramics, lacquer ware, sakeware, bento boxes, sushi molds and delicate tea sets. Some come specifically for the superior cooking knives from manufacturers such as Fujitake, Kanetsugu, Sekizou, Takayuki, Sai and Masahiro from $25 to $420. These imported items aren’t cheap, so don’t overlook the sidewalk sales, discount shelves and the regular storewide sales. Be assured of gracious assistance, friendly smiles and possibly a cup of green tea. In business since 1982, Sanko is a well-loved fixture on the hostess scene.
525 Clement St.
San Francisco, CA 94118
Inner Richmond’s Clement Street is San Francisco’s other Chinatown. You could kit out a kitchen at this double fronted store without stepping foot in IKEA. Some rock-bottom pricing is to be found in aisle after aisle of Asian-inspired goodies you never knew you needed, plus some extraordinary items which you always wished for but could never find anywhere. If it’s something obscure you’re after, come here first. If it’s plain white dishes, they’ve got stacks. Ramekins, chopsticks, rice steamers, lucky bamboo shoots, cutlery and kettles…and that’s just the start. Do not be afraid of dusty shelves nor of asking questions. Do be aware of the tricky return policy.
49 4th St.
Oakland, CA 94607
The fact that they’ve been serving the area since 1934 says it all. You would think that these 70,000 square feet of warehouse in Jack London Square are for trade only, but the public is welcome, too. Finding the biggest roasting pan for Thanksgiving or the biggest lobster pot ever present no challenge at all. For utensils, think stainless steel. This is commercial quality stuff suitable for the at-home cook. It’s best to know what you need before you come, or the sheer volume may overwhelm. If you’re not a chef or a caterer, you may wish you were after an eye-opening visit here.
447 S. Canal St.
South San Francisco, CA 94080
How big is your kitchen? If you love cooking, you’ll want to fill your basket with just about everything you see here. From All-Clad to Zyliss, a full range of brands are well represented. This one-stop kitchen shop caters to the trade and is open to the public. Lots of decent discounts are offered daily and a pallet loaded with closeouts, overstock or odds and ends on deep discount are yours for the browsing. Even brands that never seem to go on sale, such as Le Creuset and Wüsthof, are offered for less. Limited hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but it’s worth the effort for small appliances and gourmet gadgets.
Laurie JM Farr is a freelance writer covering all things in her adopted San Francisco. A dedicated urbanite, she’s a transplanted New Yorker by way of a couple of decades in London as a hotel sales and marketing manager. Follow her work on @ReferencePlease, USA Today, Yahoo! and on Examiner.com.