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Sam Wo's

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  • SLAP Jun 23, 2000 03:39 PM
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I used to live in SF and I used to go to Sam Wo's. Now I know the place is famous as a greasy joint with surly waiters. but this is the thing, they make a Cold Noodle Roll which I have not seen anywhere else. Its awesome. Its really the best use of $2.25 on this planet. they take a big sheet of rice noodle and put cilantro,bbq pork and tofu(?) and cut it into little sections. dip this in some hot mustard and you have Nirvana. enjoy! I can't really recommend anything else but if your strolling through Chinatown,try it!
@ Washington/Grant

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  1. I've been an avid patron of Sam Wo's for nearly 25 years now. Great tasting chinese food for the least amount of money I've ever had to spend on a dinner date. And it's fun! It's such a unique experience that it's been a great success on several "first dates." Nowaday I take my wife and kids there often. It'll be a family ritual for as long as they keep their doors open. If you get the opportunity to try it, don't pass it up.

    1. Ten years later, a reply to your post: I too cannot think of anything better to eat than that darn noodle roll. It is a "must do" when I am in San Francisco where I used to live. Seriously, folks, this is the bomb. I eat it plain without mustard. I might try your way sometime!

      Sam Wo Restaurant
      813 Washington Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

      1. Gueen Fun

        1 Reply
        1. re: CYL

          That is exactly what I am looking for, does anyone else make the cold dry version other then Sam Wo?

        2. i always went for the duck chow fun. i may check out the cold noodle roll next time.

          3 Replies
          1. re: shanghaikid

            I liked the raw fish salad now about $8, much cheaper when Edsel was alive.

            1. re: wolfe

              What do they call the hot rice soup that you cook the raw fish strips in?

              1. re: sydthekyd

                you mean "jook" or congee?

          2. Yum! that roll is the best thing there and the atmosphere is pretty unusual as well. Occasionally we throw the kids in the car and tell them we're going for chinese food. After a few hours of mystery, they scream "SAM WO'S!!!!" Duck dry noodle there can be really tasty too!

            1. Oh yeah- forgot to add we live in LA- it's a long drive for that cold noodle roll!

              1 Reply
              1. re: erikbrit

                BUT so worth it!!!

              2. That ingredient you identified as tofu, is I think julienned scrambled egg. And yes that is a great appetizer. If you take it out, eat it on the same day. The noodle gets dry and hard by the next day. A Polish friend of mine with a Japanese girlfriend, called Gueen Fun Chinese sushi!

                9 Replies
                1. re: chocolatetartguy

                  Bar B Que Pork Rice Noodle Roll now $2.75, maybe more but not a bad rincrease in 11 years.

                  1. re: wolfe

                    A bargain at any price, those noodle rolls!

                    1. re: wolfe

                      Those rice noodle rolls (cheong fun) run for $4.50 on the peninsula just south of SF.

                      1. re: agarose2000

                        Just pointing out the outrageous prices. I used to take salesman, who were paying on their expense accounts, to Sam Wo. The usual reaction was "no way I can convince the accountant that I actually took a customer to lunch in San Francisco for that amount of money."

                        1. re: wolfe

                          Same thing happened to me in Indianapolis for a conference. We went to a studenty New Orleans place Yat's and the price was so low, I was embarassed to expense it. As I recall the dinners were under $4, but good in a fun sort of way.

                          1. re: chocolatetartguy

                            In the old days Sam Wo was mostly known for a surly waiter named Edsel Ford Fong. I recently discovered that Fong has his own Wikipedia entry:

                            I've often thought that somebody could make a fortune by staffing a restaurant with a crew of Edsel Ford Fongs. People seem to take a strange pleasure in being abused by waiters who make an art of it.

                            Sam Wo Restaurant
                            813 Washington Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

                            1. re: TopoTail

                              the people making the fortune these days would be the lawyers and the insurance companies.

                              1. re: TopoTail

                                Topo - except it would just shame Ed Debevic's as the cheap gum smacking Disneyfied... well I won't go further.

                                Edsel. nobody could abuse a customer like him. (and in SF he had very strong competition in those days)

                                1. re: TopoTail

                                  Someone told me a charming story this weekend about how Edsel seated people as they came in. A regular customer came in and there were only 2 other people on the 2nd floor. Edsel seated him at the same table as a young woman. They hit it off and ended up getting married.

                                  Two Saturdays ago, the ladies downstairs, kept telling me to come in that night or that Sunday to get gim fon. I should have know something was afoot.

                      2. The Chron reports there's a chance it may reopen: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                        1. Sam Wo's is cosed as of last Friday, due to Health Department violations, which I am sure we all knew were rife. There is hope that people care enough about the place to help the family revive it and reopen in a more cleanly manner. Perhaps the building is too old, and it might be a good idea to take a new space. Sadly.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: abigailhamilton

                            they are planning to re-open

                            1. re: abigailhamilton

                              Too old, yes, but I can't name another restaurant that delivers food via dumb waiter.

                              1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                "another restaurant that delivers food via dumb waiter."
                                Even I won''t touch that straight line.

                                1. re: wolfe

                                  I read sometime back that the dumbwaiter/floor arrangement is typical of a particular region of Northern China, recreated here in Chinatown by Sam Wo. I loved learning that it has a precedent in origin.

                                  1. re: wolfe

                                    in a similar vein, many multifloored dim sum and/or banquent restaurants use "dumb waiters" to transport food to the upper floors.

                                    1. re: shanghaikid

                                      agreed, many dumbwaiter are hidden from view but I can think of at least six in Chinatown that have dumbwaiters.

                                      1. re: yimster

                                        Funny, we used to go to Ctown almost every weekend with my paw paw. My ABC family usually went to Nam Yuen, Jackson Cafe, Sun Hung Heung (sp?), all places with only one floor.

                                        Until the past month, I had now been to SF Chinatown in maybe 5 years. I was surprised that it is much smaller than I had remembered as a child. And the crowds seemed to be smaller.

                                        1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                          IMHO, Chinatown has been on the decline for the past several decades...

                                          Doesn't even come close to what it was like in the '60s and '70s... The days of my youth... :)

                                          The only places I still visit in Chinatown are the various stores on Stockton for groceries... And Capital on Clay for meals...

                                          1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                            Yes, in my youth we went to Chinatown every Sunday too. Now only when I have to meet family during Lunar New Years, attend street fairs and the worst thing possible paying one's last respects.

                                            Food is not what it once was, but there are still places where I go just to think I still young.

                                            1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                              Chinatown has spread it's borders creeping into North Beach, but it's also mellowed, as the city now has other small pockets of Chinese businesses (Clemente, Noriega, San Bruno Ave., etc).