Noe Valley Voice December-January 2001

Store Trek

Store Trek is a regular Voice feature tracking new stores and businesses in the neighborhood. This month, we introduce a Castro Street nail salon, a shop filled with chotchkas, a florist on 24th, and two restaurants on outer Church Street.

Castro Nails and Beauty

1352 Castro Street (near Jersey)


Biting your nails over that last job interview you lost out on? Getting your neck in a knot trying to figure out how to have a downsized holiday? A sea algae wrap or manicure from Castro Nails and Beauty may be just what the doctor ordered. Noe Valley's latest nail salon opened in October just across the street from Walgreen's on Castro between Hamano Sushi and Michelle's Tailor.

Owner Susie Mills, who opened her salon in Indigo V's former storefront (see below), has been in the beauty business for 18 years. Originally from Vietnam, Mills has worked at and owned several nail salons in the city, including Lady Goldfinger in Pacific Heights, which is now closed. She also spent five years working at a salon in the Grand Hyatt.

Why did she think Noe Valley needed another nail salon? "I heard the clientele are very nice here, and wealthy," she admits.

Castro Nails and Beauty offers a basic manicure for $8, a basic pedicure for $10, and a combination for $15. Acrylic tips and silk/gel nails are $25 and up; fill-ins $15 and up. Mills also offers a bikini wax for $10 and up, eyebrow and eyelash tinting for $10, and body treatments including massage, facials, and cellulite treatments, and of course, sea algae wraps, ranging from $15 to $110.

To boost business and encourage walk-ins, Mills plans to stay open seven days a week for a month or so. Normally, Castro Nails and Beauty is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

-- Pat Rose


1195A Church Street (near 24th)


Nestled between Nomad Rugs and Forbeadin' bead store, near the corner of 24th and Church streets, is Chatterbox, a new gift shop offering an eclectic collection of gifts, clothes, and artifacts, many by local artists.

Intriguing wire sculptures by local sculptor Diane Komater ($90 to $500), and black leather masks by San Francisco artist Rojo line the walls, along with colorful papier-mâché Mardi Gras clocks by Florida artist Leslie Lynch and photographs by local photographer Stephanie Ginger. On the tables below are selections of jewelry, including sea glass and seashell necklaces in a silver setting ($50), also by Lynch; notecards from Fat Cat Cards; picture frames; and colorful imported snuff bottles ($15).

Owner Julie Andersen, who lived in Asia off and on for 10 years, also carries imported furniture; a Thai armoire ($950) in the corner of the room holds a selection of handmade silk hats and small mixed-media pieces.

Andersen says she wants to create a cozy feeling in her shop. "I want this to feel more like a home than a shop, a place that offers thoughtful gifts," she says. "You won't find these gifts in malls. I'm really trying to cater to the neighborhood."

In addition to art and gifts, Andersen also offers a selection of handmade clothing: a beautiful multicolored metallic coat ($100) hangs next to some soft, pastel sweaters made from recycled blankets. Everywhere in the store are mobiles floating from the ceiling: a beaded butterfly, a mobile with crystals and found objects.

Andersen lives in Sunnyside near City College, but discovered Noe Valley through Natural Resources when she was pregnant. Later, she became more familiar with the neighborhood when she worked next door at Forbeadin'. "There's a level of sophistication and an affinity for local businesses in Noe Valley. People really support their local businesses here, and you don't get that in every neighborhood."

Chatterbox is open Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

-- Pat Rose

Deep Sushi

1740 Church Street (near Day)


It was supposed to look deep, as in the ocean with green and blue tones. However, the decor at Deep Sushi ended up more landlocked, with a stainless-steel bar and orange concrete walls. But owners Galvin Gaviola and Ray Tobias, along with sushi chef Toku, are happy with the flood of patrons they've seated since opening in June. After all, it's the food that really counts. "It's all about how fresh the fish is, and ours is the best!" says Gaviola.

Deep Sushi's menu does run deep. For starters, Gaviola recommends the Romi Romi Salmon (Atlantic salmon with spicy soy sauce, $7.50) or maybe Beef Tataki (seared New York steak with a garlic soy sauce, $9.95). Favorite entrees on the menu are the Sun Flower Tempura Roll (salmon, cucumber, shrimp, $10.75), the Marilyn Monroe Roll (scallop, cucumber, and shrimp with garlic mayonnaise, $12.95), or the popular Dragon Roll (eel, avocado, and shrimp, $10.75).

Toku serves each item on a round dish, and the wasabi (a horseradish-like herb that complements raw fish) is arranged on the plate rim with a special artistic flourish. Toku also puts out an impressive array of nigiri (raw fish on a pad of rice -- tuna, prawn, octopus, or salmon, $3.50).

You can wash all that down with Asahi or Sapporo beer, hot or cold sake, or soft drinks if you prefer. Gaviola sets the mood with hip-hop music, jazz, or maybe salsa, depending on the crowd. "You're not going to go anywhere in the city or see or taste anything like this," he claims.

Gaviola says he and Tobias,who is his cousin, have wanted to run a business together for years. Tobias is a Noe native, and his mom used to run a hair salon called Sonia's in the spot where Deep Sushi is now. She still operates Sonia's, but it has moved down the street next door to Church Produce.

If you want to sample some of chef Toku's art on a Saturday night, you might want to call ahead. Deep Sushi only seats 40 (stainless-steel bar included). Takeout is available.

Deep Sushi is open for dinner only, 5 p.m. to midnight, every day of the week.

-- Heidi Anderson

Indigo V

4156 24th Street (near Diamond)


Locals will know this flower and gift shop from its previous location on Castro Street. Last spring, after 11 years at Castro and Jersey, Indigo V owner Diane Barrett found herself facing a 40 percent rent hike. So she welcomed the chance to take over the 24th Street slot vacated by 40-Love (tennis gear). Since moving in in June, Barrett has been pleased with her larger storefront, which allows a more generous display of flowers.

The overall effect is of a still life filled with dramatic blooms and stems. "I started out as a painter, and just as in painting, you really have to like the material you're working with," says Barrett, who has been in the flower business for 25 years.

She also enjoys helping customers select an arrangement. "People often call and describe the recipient. I'll ask about colors and shapes of flowers that they might prefer, and then we do the rest." Custom flower-arranging is available with a $40 minimum purchase; in-city delivery costs $7. Indigo V is also part of a national floral wire service, so you can send flowers to shops around the country.

For those searching for more enduring gifts, the store stocks an assortment of dried flowers, vases, and objets d'art. "Anything that's visually interesting might find its way in here," says Barrett. There are fairy ornaments ($14), watering cans shaped like elephants ($14), Italian clown felt birthday hats ($8), and clocks, flower pots, and paperweights. Black crows with glass eyes ($27) are popular. "I have no idea what people do with them," Barrett says, "but I've been selling them for eight years. They were even featured by Martha Stewart."

Your gifts will be wrapped for free. "We like things to look nice when they leave here," says Barrett.

Barrett lives at 22nd and Castro, and has been in the neighborhood since 1988. She also serves on the board of the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association.

Indigo V is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The shop is closed Sundays.

-- Stephanie Rapp


1708 Church Street (at 29th)


"People who really know Greek food don't need to look at a menu." So says Jack Spachis, the owner of Yianni's, a new Greek restaurant that opened in October. But Yianni (Greek for Jack) still offers a menu for those diners who need to be educated in the ways of Greek cuisine.

This restaurant fills the lovely spot formerly occupied by Café J, and adds Mediterranean flavors to the increasingly cosmopolitan block of Church Street, which includes Regent Thai, Hungry Joe's Diner, and Deep Sushi.

Spachis says it's the combination of items that shows your true Greek know-how. He suggests you release your inner Zorba and order the saganaki (a cheese appetizer, $6.95) and the lamb shishkebab (marinated in olive oil and served with brandy sauce, $13.95). Then throw in some spanaki salata (spinach, red onions, feta, tomatoes, olives, and raspberry vinaigrette, $3.95) and dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice, herbs and beef, $11.95). Reward yourself for a job well done and order some yiaourti me meli (yogurt topped with toasted walnuts and honey, $3.50) for dessert.

Sound like too much food? Spachis says bring your friends and let everyone sample. You might also try the mousaka ($8.95), souvlaki ($8.95), and avgolemeno (lemon/rice soup).

There is a plethora of beers and wines that includes a Hellas pilsner beer ($3.50 a glass) and Greek house wine ($5 a glass).

Spachis owns another Greek restaurant by the same name in Burlingame (244 Primrose Road) and has been running restaurants for 14 years. The new Yianni's is a homecoming for him. He was raised in Noe Valley and graduated from St. Paul's about 20 years ago.

"I looked in the Marina, the Fillmore, and then this place opened up and it was perfect," says Spachis. He painted the walls a misty blue and white, to evoke the feeling of the Greek seaside. The dining room seats about 40, but there are a few cafe-style tables out front.

Yianni's is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m., and for brunch Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations are suggested on weekend nights.

-- Heidi Anderson