The Last Days of Pacific Books and Arts, Inner Richmond San Francisco


One of the last morsels from Pacific Books and Arts…

I’ve been rediscovering San Francisco’s Richmond District lately because, well, I feel like I’ve probably devoted most of 2013 to eating through the East Bay. My epicenter for this exploration has usually been 8th and Clement, a locale that places more than a day’s worth of attractions within easy walking distance.

The five-block stretch of Clement between 5th and 10th includes such noteworthy restaurants as Good Luck Dim Sum, Clement Restaurant, Burma Superstar, Halu, Cherry Blossom Bakery, Pizza Orgasmica, and many others. There’s also a fantastic bookstore in the mix — Green Apple Books — which easily boasts the city’s best used cookbook selection.

I noticed today that another bookstore in the area, Pacific Books and Arts, was closing down. I hate to see mom-and-pop bookstores disappear, but Pacific Books was liquidating its inventory as part of a “retirement” sale, which is bittersweet.

I talked with the elderly gentleman who owned the shop, and he said that Pacific Books has been open for 20 years. The small curated store sells Chinese-language books exclusively, all of which were discounted at 40% to 70% off.

My heart sank a little when I noticed the large gap of empty shelf space in the cookbook section, which was marked with a 60% discount. Clearly, the cookbooks had already been pretty well picked over, but there were still about 100 remaining, so I scoured through them for any remaining gems.

Of course, I can’t read Chinese, so my goal was to simply find the books that featured inspiring dishes and great photography. After a half-hour of flipping through paperbacks (and becoming accustomed to having the spine on the right-hand side), I only found one title that I really wanted, a large-yet-slim volume that featured Japanese vegetable carving (mukimono).

Sadly, I couldn’t tell you the actual title of the book, but the color photos at the front are exquisite. From what I can tell, the original Japanese version of this book was published in 2006. If any Chinese-speaking readers would like to offer any translations, please feel free to comment.


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