Chinatown’s Sam Wo’s to close

Big news out of San Francisco’s Chinatown. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Inside Scoop section reports that owner David Ho confirms the place is closing down after service Friday.

Even if you’ve never been to San Francisco or its Chinatown, you may have heard of this tiny restaurant sandwiched into a sliver of a building. It’s been in business for more than 100 years and during the ’50s was popular with heroes of the Beat scene like Jack Kerouac. It’s probably best-known for cranky waiter Edsel Ford Fung who used to insult customers on a regular basis to hold on to his unofficial title as world’s rudest waiter.

Here is the menu so you can see what you’ll miss. It’s the kind of hearty, calor-ific fare you will find in a lot of Chinatown dives. Which, of course, is just my style. I’m a big fan of the Sampan Porridge with Chinese doughnut. It’s not as scary as it sounds — seafood in a thick rice soup served with delicious fried bread on the side. I would have to say that Mr. Vinecdote (also a Ho, but no relation to David, yes that does make me Mrs. Ho, what of it) has brought many good things into my life with Chinese fried bread near the top of the list.

Late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien visited Sam Wo’s during a tour stop here some years ago and made this rather irreverent commercial for the place; it starts at 2:20 into this clip (but the beginning showing Conan the Cablecar-man is funny, too.)




  4 comments for “Chinatown’s Sam Wo’s to close

  1. April 19, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Bummer! I was there a few months ago. There are about a dozen tables, one waitress, one guy downstairs cooking. Service took **forever**, but when the food finally came every bite was delicious.

    We brought our own beer.

  2. jeanne
    April 20, 2012 at 10:39 am

    unbelievably sad to lose this wonderful institution. where can i go when i come to san francisco. there are some dishes that cannot be replicated. better head to north beach for italian.

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