Getting ready for a show! – Urban Air Market, Dogpatch (Aug. 17)

Urban Air Market is in Dogpatch (Esprit Park) on Sunday in SF and that means that there’s been an additional buzz of excitement chez .retool. We’re excited to present a few new items, some of which are pictured here to whet your appetite! UAM focuses on sustainable design, which we really appreciate. We’ll be participating in their Lower Haight show on October 11!

As much as we love creating and presenting new items that we hope you’d like to make your very own, we are equally engaged in an evergreen process of making our booth and tables an inviting and visually appealing place for you to peruse our wares. 

So come by and check us out! (Booth #37, on 19th St, near Indiana) Sunday Aug 17,  Minnesota Free to attend.

P.S. You can find UAM here: Urban Air Market, Twitter: @urbanairmarket

Noe Valley – A couple of quick food options

Food Options in Noe Valley

You can’t take more than ten steps along 24th Street in Noe Valley without encountering a restaurant.

We wanted to point out two inexpensive spots with vegan options on the menu.

Hahns Hibachi (yes, we know Korean BBQ doesn’t scream vegan options) has jap chae that comes with nicely seared tofu, really fresh broccoli, spinach and carrot mixed in with the noodles. Again, can’t vouch for the piles of meat – we’re just happy that when we’ve gone in for lunch it hasn’t smelled strongly of cooking beef. The Noe location is on Castro Street near 24th Street.

Half a block away, along 24th Street is The Little Chihuahua. Their vegetarian black beans and rice are seasoned well, will fill you up, and will give you a little more spring in your step as you dodge strollers and dogs on your way to the Mission. A close second on the .retool. rating system would be their tofu taco gluten free version, served on a corn tortilla. If you’re super hungry, get both and you’ll still only spend about $7.

Vegan Restaurant Review!

Thai Idea

Anyone who knows us at all is aware that we love pumpkin curry. We are a discriminating duo, certainly, but have encountered a few pumpkin curries along the away that strike our fancy. The problem – either they are in a different city… we’re looking at you NYC and Seattle, or they were in San Francisco but are now defunct à la Suriya Thai in the Mission. Yes, I know what you’re thinking – ‘we’re awash in Thai restaurants, fool!’ To you, I say, not vegan ones…

Which brings me to… fanfare please… Thai Idea. Okay, okay I know it’s not a new joint. No one told me about it though, I had to stumble across it in the Tenderloin myself. Jacob was immediately on board for the .retool. field trip. We had Pumpkin Curry, Volcanic Beef, and Firecracker Balls. (The last one was ordered because we’re immature sometimes. Don’t think it’s funny? Go back and read the name again… yeah, we thought so.)

If I tried to describe the firecracker balls to you it wouldn’t make sense. Just order them and be happy. They are salty, a little spicy, and a little bit sweet. I could be all culinary and call them umami but I’m not gonna. They are tasty. Though, in our excitement we neglected to order the pumpkin curry “medium spicy” it had a decent amount of heat and the kabocha was spot on.  The tofu in it was a bit crunchy in a good way and a little bit tart and the veggies weren’t an afterthought, for once. The volcanic beef, as one could probably tell from the name, is more assertive in spice-factor. It’s quite a good sized portion even when splitting it – somehow we persevered.

If we’d had more room, we would have kept eating. No more pining away for Pukk in NYC for me! Wish I’d known about this place sooner.

A distinct bonus was that despite the Sturm und Drang of the immediate area it was quiet and tranquil inside. Eat there, now (or soon) but save us some curry.

Thai Idea

710 Polk Street ( near Eddy & probably under some scaffolding) on the east side of the street.

Lunch at Cha-Ya

Agadashi tofu in the foreground; Sea vegetable salad in the background. Both were delicious!

Agadashi tofu in the foreground; Sea vegetable salad in the background. Both were delicious!


One of the things we love about living in San Francisco is the vast array of tasty vegan food options. Even restaurants that aren’t specifically vegetarian generally have a few interesting looking items or are happy to modify their non-vegan offerings.

That said, it’s  still nice to go to a restaurant and know that you can order absolutely anything on the entire menu.

One of our go-to vegan restaurants in San Francisco is Cha-Ya.  We stopped by for lunch recently after our weekly .retool. business meeting.

Here’s what we ordered:

Agedashi Tofu – deep-fried tofu in a special sauce, garnished with kaiware, green onion, grated daikon, ginger, and nori.

Sea Vegetable Salad – a variety of marine vegetables including seasoned hijiki served with a creamy sesame dressing.

Cha-Ya Delight – brown rice bowl. seasoned organic brown rice topped with carrots, kabocha, broccoli, cauliflower, shiitake, lotus root, zucchini, snap peas, snow peas, atsuage tofu, hijiki, pickled burdock and daikon, broccolini, and kaiware.

Their menu is huge, so we like to get one or two dishes we know and love and then experiment with a new option.  The new option this time around was the Agedashi Tofu. It quickly became one of our favorites – the special sauce is quite tasty and the mix of seaweed, onion, ginger, and daikon was just about perfect.  We’ll definitely be ordering this one again.

The Cha-Ya Delight was awesome, too. The vegetables were super-fresh as always and the seasoned brown rice was nice and savory without overpowering the vegetables. There are two of most vegetables in the bowl, so if you’re sharing and you want some of everything, you have to be a little careful when dividing the servings.

The Sea Vegetable Salad was refreshing and complemented the other dishes quite nicely.

We’ll be back soon!