My City: Hot cocoa, a massage and dining in the dark 

Faves and raves by Dhaya Lakshminarayanan

Personal stats

AGE: Thirtysomething (A lady never tells her age)
YEARS IN THE CITY: 10
NEIGHBORHOOD: Japantown/Fillmore
OCCUPATION: Businesswoman, stand-up comedian, TV game-show host
SELF-DESCRIPTION: Highly motivated woman about town with a black belt in sarcasm and a secret desire to be a superhero

FAVORITE PLACE FOR A SOAK
Imperial Spa
WHERE: 1875 Geary Blvd., at Steiner Street
WHAT: Great place to kick back with pals
INFO: (415) 771-1114 or www.imperialdayspa.com

They’ve got a steam room, red clay sauna, hot and cold jacuzzi, as well as a Jade Fomentation Room and Yellow Clay Fomentation Room. Don’t ask me what the last two are, but I dig them. It is my favorite place to unwind with a gal pal. Also, they let you talk. Some do it loudly. Key.

FAVORITE PLACE WITHIN SF TO FEEL LIKE YOU’RE TRAVELING
38 Geary bus
WHERE: Inbound toward downtown; outbound toward Richmond district.
WHAT: The right blend of international and hobo
INFO: www.sfmuni.com/38

No passport needed, but get your typhoid shot before boarding.

FAVORITE PLACE TO SKATEBOARD
JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park
WHERE: JFK Drive between Tea Garden Drive (near Eighth Avenue) and Transverse Drive
WHAT: The best place for a beginning skater, on car-free Sundays
INFO: www.parks.sfgov.org

I just recently became a skateboarder after realizing I just didn’t have enough bruises in my life. The best place for a beginning skater chick? JFK drive in Golden Gate Park on car-free Sundays. I didn’t wear any protective gear except a hoodie and oven mitts.

FAVORITE PLACE TO GET A MASSAGE
La Biang Thai Massage
WHERE:
1301 Polk St., between Bush and Austin streets
WHAT: An aggressive massage
INFO: (415) 931-7692 or www.labiangthai.com
 
These ladies will use palms, thumbs, feet, elbows, forearms and knees to work out the stress you accumulated after a hard day of fighting crime. Thai massage, like their iced tea, is more aggressive than the boring old spa rubdowns. Be prepared to be sore and go back again and again.

FAVORITE NEW RESTAURANT
Opaque — Dining in The Dark
WHERE: 689 McAllister St., between Franklin and Gough streets
WHAT: Eat in complete darkness
INFO: (800) 710-1270 or www.darkdining.com

You eat in complete darkness, relying on your other senses, especially touch, smell and hearing, served by legally blind wait staff. They are amazing as your guides for the entire evening. At the table next to ours, I overheard the woman say to her date, “I guess I should’ve shaved my legs!”

FAVORITE PLACE TO SHOP FOR CLOTHES
Saffron Rare Threads
WHERE: One Embarcadero Center, between Front and Battery streets
WHAT: For the girl on the go, versatile clothing from the conference room to a cocktail hour
INFO: (415) 433-7233 or www.saffronrarethreads.com

Women don’t have to dress like dudes to look professional. So “femme it up” while looking like you just closed a deal on Sand Hill Road.

FAVORITE PLACE TO DRINK HOT COCOA
Bittersweet Chocolate Cafe
WHERE:
2123 Fillmore St., between California and Sacramento streets
WHAT: Real chocolate, seasonal favorites such as peppermint
INFO: (415) 346-8715 or www.bittersweetcafe.com

This isn’t your grandpa’s Swiss Miss. Their hot cocoa is made by melting down real chocolate, rather than adding powder or syrup to hot water and mediocrity. I love their classic and spicy. Watch for seasonal favorites like peppermint. Great place to people watch (or stare once you’ve reached that sugar high).

FAVORITE MUSEUM
Musee Mecanique

WHERE: Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 45, Shed A, end of Taylor Street
WHAT: Mechanically operated musical instruments, antique arcade machines
INFO: (415) 346-2000 or www.museemechanique.org

The only place I ever enjoyed losing — one quarter at a time. This museum supposedly has the world’s largest privately owned collection of mechanically operated musical instruments and antique arcade machines. You can see hand-cranked music boxes, foosball and Ms. Pac Man all in the same night!

FAVORITE PLACE TO NURTURE ONE’S SOUL
Vedanta Society
WHERE: 2323 Vallejo St., at Fillmore Street
WHAT: Breathtaking gardens and structure built in 1900. Sunday morning and Wednesday evening lecture services.
INFO: (415) 922-2323 or www.sfvedanta.org

The gardens and the structure, built in 1900 are breathtaking. Swami Prabuddhananda gives Yoda a run for his money — both in wisdom and in looks. Lecture services are held on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings in the New Temple auditorium.

About The Author

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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