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CATESOL 2010 Food & Shopping Suggestions

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I’m looking forward to CATESOL 2010 in Santa Clara! Some of you will be arriving soon; I’ll only be there starting on Friday, but I thought I’d post some suggestions on where to eat in the area. If you aren’t familiar with the area, it looks like there’s nothing nearby–just corporate offices for Yahoo!, Namco Bandai, and so on. There are places to eat, though, and while I’m not familiar with many of them, I’ve put some of them on a map. (I do spend time in this area, because Mission College is right there, but I live 25 minutes away, so I rarely eat there.) I’m sure the convention committee has made something as well, but I know some people are staying in Fremont and so on, so I thought I’d put together something quickly. (Update: Here’s the official CATESOL 2010 restaurant guide PDF.)

If you have time and comfortable shoes, you should be able to walk safely to most of the more distant ones on the map. You can use Google’s “Walking” option to get directions, and don’t forget to use Street View to get an image of the area. Read on after the map for better suggestions if you have a car or are willing to try to use buses and light rail.



View CATESOL 2010 Food in a larger map

This is not the most culinarily exciting area of the South Bay. If you have access to a car, even driving 5-15 minutes will put you in a much better location. Here are a few suggestions if you have access to a car or can figure out the light rail and bus system (I’m not sure if Google’s public transportation directions work for VTA, but they may):

  • Maru Ichi, real Japanese ramen specializing in a “black garlic” broth (click for map) and lots of other restaurants and businesses, from a Chinese bookstore and a Chinese vegan restaurant to a Japanese cook-it-yourself chain. Highly recommended. Less than 10 minutes by car. (On the other side of the overpass is the McCarthy Ranch shopping center, which includes typical American restaurant chains, Borders, etc.)
  • El Camino Real’s Korean-American neighborhood (San Francisco Chronicle article) won’t impress anyone from L.A., but has lots of good places to eat, including the pricey meat-extravaganza Palace Buffet (lines during peak hours) and a nice supermarket, Hankook, which has a couple of places to get a snack inside, and a separate building several blocks away known as a “food court.” A very simple drive, about 12 minutes away; no highway (map).
  • San Jose’s Japantown is one of only three remaining in the US; the others are in San Francisco and L.A.This one is small and more functional, but there are still good restaurants, a couple of nice grocery stores, and some really good places to shop. There’s even a traditional tofu maker. Oddly, there’s also an Ethiopian restaurant here, Rehoboth, with a good reputation. About 15 minutes away by car, and I know you can take light rail here because I’ve seen the stop! (Map.) N.B.: On Sunday, they’re having a festival, so it’ll be a good time to come but a bad time to try to park.
  • The Mitsuwa shopping center is worth the 15-to-20-minute drive to reach a mini-complex consisting of the large Japanese supermarket, Mitsuwa, which has a ramen shop, a fast-service restaurant, an anime toy store, and a wagashi (traditional sweets) shop inside. Attached to it outside are a Taiwanese noodle and dumpling shop, another ramen restaurant, a very good sushi restaurant (Tomi), and an excellent Japanese bakery and coffee shop, Clover, that serves Japanese-style “Western food” dinners. Across from Mitsuwa, in the parking lot, is Kinokuniya, a Japanese book/music/magazine/stationery store that sells English and Japanese books, including books on learning Japanese and learning English, art books, origami paper, etc. (Map. You can take 101 for a short amount of the route if you want, but it’s not worth the hassle to me. Also, I think there’s one bus that’s a straight shot here.)
  • Book Buyers, the secondhand book shop I mentioned in this post , often has some ESL books. It’s about 15 minutes away, too. There’s an independent new book shop next door, Books Inc. There are lots of other great bookstores in the South Bay, but Book Buyers stands out because of the ESL stock (which varies, of course). There are various places to eat in downtown Mountain View; just check Yelp. Free parking lots are on various side streets.Map.)
  • If you’re staying as far afield as Fremont or Milpitas, which I know some people are, you can check out my Yelp reviews. (As you can probably tell, I do most of my Italian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Indian, Chinese, etc. dining out in my own town, and don’t drive to San Jose for it…)

If you have a recommendation of your own to share, or if you have a question, please leave a comment!

P. S. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter! Currently, a Tweetup is planned for Friday at 6 PM, at the Evolution bar in the Hyatt.

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