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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
A PERSONAL REVIEW OF RESTAURANTS AROUND THE WORLD

SAM WO'S
CHINATOWN
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA U.S.A.

R.I.P.

Sad news.  Sam Wo's restaurant is now closed.  Too many health code violations.  The restaurant's last day was Friday, April 20, 2012.  Now on with the memories we had during our days living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

There are efforts to allow this establishment to reopen but it remains to be seen.

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Our first encounter at this venerable old restaurant came in 1980.  Our server on that first visit was a guy named Edsel Ford Fong. The name meant nothing to us then but we were truly blessed to have had him as our waiter. This is a rickety, multi-story restaurant featuring open air windows with Chinatown action going on right down on the street.  To get to the second or third story, you first walk through the kitchen.

While Edsel Ford Fong was not a household word to us, we knew right off the bat that he was a real "character."  Before he even slapped the menus down on our table, he brought a loose leaf notebook over to us featuring pictures of himself with VIP patrons who had dined there before.

When our kids (little shavers at the time) asked for soda, Fong seemed really put out muttering that they didn't have soda.  But then he said he'd fix it.  We watched as he left the restaurant, dashed across the street to a little store, and returned with a quart of soda!

Edsel Ford Fong became somewhat of a local celebrity in San Francisco thanks to his antics.  Sadly, he's gone now.  But there is evidence that he left his mark on the Golden Gate City -- a restaurant at the new baseball stadium carries his name!

As for the food, you'll find the usual items on the menu and we've always been pleased with the way the food has turned out.  And of course you'll wind up sipping plenty of that tasty green tea.

Sam Wo's is located at the intersection of Grant and Washington (technically 813 Washington Street) and is open from 11am until 3am on most nights.  It's good food at fair prices with a unique atmosphere.   Give it a try!  One final tip.  Don't even think about trying to find a fork.  You'll have to make do with the chop stix but it's fun even if you're a rookie.

Conan O'Brien did a shot at this joint.  Check it out here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M41jars4beU