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!
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.
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
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!