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weinoo

Sad Day in San Francisco as Sam Wo Closes

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I don't know how many others will think it's a sad day when 100 year-old Chinatown mainstay Sam Wo has had to close its doors forever, especially when the city's health inspectors decided to:

All that aside, Sam Wo was where I first tasted Chow Fun noodles, and where I loved taking out of town guests on our jaunts to the city. I'm sure Edsel insulted my friends and me many times, as he served us our wonton soups brought up from the kitchen on that ancient dumbwaiter. And I'll never forget the look on friends' faces as he threw down the pencil and pad and implored us to write down our own orders.

RIP, Sam Wo. Edsel Ford Fung, too.

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I'm sad to hear it. My father took me there when I was a teenager, and I remember that part of the shtick was that you might be asked to change tables--maybe even floors--in the middle of a meal. That was decades ago, but I would rather think that those pieces of local texture are still there.

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How sad ... I loved the place, and Edsel was a great part of the charm. I first had chow fun there - tomato beef IIRC.

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They've since reopened.

 

Photos shot in July 2016.

 

13734977_1198892223494859_678282981567202873_o.thumb.jpg.0368261846973116de21a8a90f5db15a.jpg

 

Duck jook.

 

Pretty average as far as porridge goes.

 

13698062_1198895503494531_7397341707811941864_o.thumb.jpg.8116d0ba95fb9714ada9d1ef0b895af9.jpg

 

Mongolian beef.

Relatively unexciting. It was as average as it looks.

 

13680387_1198894513494630_6378108622914532624_o.thumb.jpg.6019d75c5ef4c2bca40f16d585ca8035.jpg

 

Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce.

The stems were as tough as nails, but the leaves weren't. I'm learning to distrust any review written by Michael Bauer.

 

13716201_1198896423494439_4492583749921923892_n.jpg.bd7d8cd0077c308540b4de6d7742e87f.jpg

 

Salt-and-pepper chicken wings.

This was billed as a "must-get" item. I don't know about that, but it was the best thing we had that night. And now that we've been to Sam Wo, we don't ever have to go back again.

 

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2016 ?

 

good to know I have not missed much at all.

 

 

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I'm thinking the poster above doesn't really get the point of Sam Wo's.

 

Some places aren't only about the food.

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16 minutes ago, weinoo said:

I'm thinking the poster above doesn't really get the point of Sam Wo's.

 

Some places aren't only about the food.

 

You're right, I didn't. 

 

But since this is eGullet and since this thread is about a restaurant, I was going to limit my comments to the food. I don't care about the other stuff.

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There's plenty of stuff to discuss about restaurants, other than the food.

 

 

All sorts of Proustian shit.

 

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38 minutes ago, weinoo said:

There's plenty of stuff to discuss about restaurants, other than the food.

 

 

In this thread, I only care about the food and what there was wasn't worth it. Perhaps I ordered wrong...who knows? Unlike NYC, this town has only two resto critics of note and so far one of them has been decidedly mixed. YMMV.

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There are loads of restaurants that are "institutions" and famous for a uniqueness that can't be separated from an atmosphere or a time or a neighborhood. Sometimes they hang on just out of nostalgia, if nothing else and if enough people still go. Another such institution in the Mission in SF was Roosevelt Tamale Parlor. The food was dreadful and it was always crowded; I believe it has been revamped, but when I first went there 40 years ago it was already a time warp.  

 

It isn't so different from finding the foods of our childhood still comforting. The Chinese restaurants that were our typical Sunday dinner on the Upper West Side of NY in the fifties and sixties were not places I would go out of my way to eat now, but I'm happy they were there. Sam Wo's was never known as a place for gourmet food. It was economical and accessible and may even have seemed exotic once upon a time to white people who didn't come to Chinatown very often.  

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6 hours ago, Katie Meadow said:

 Sam Wo's was never known as a place for gourmet food. It was economical and accessible and may even have seemed exotic once upon a time to white people who didn't come to Chinatown very often.  

 

There was something about walking through that kitchen at 1 AM, climbing up those stairs to a stool at a table on the second or third floors, and eating food that was sent up from the kitchen via dumbwaiter - it was all exotic!  And actually the chow fun could be ethereal at times...even when not, it hit the spot after a night out.

 

I'm sure the ghost of Edsel still haunts the place.

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