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Oct 19, 2006 10:21 PM

The secret is out... Chef Andy Wai's own restaurant in San Mateo

Someone let the cat out of the bag already, so I might as well steal the exclusive here...

Chef Andy Wai, former executive chef of Harbor Village, East Ocean in Emervyville (short stint) and just recently departed Tai Wu in Daly City has opened up his own restaurant in San Mateo aptly named Chef Wai where he is owner and executive chef, replacing the now defunct Iron Chef across from Draegers (which was not a great place to begin with).

Cantonese food fans already know about this place as there were reports of long lines. If you know him personally he'll even customize some dishes for you, a practice that has been frowned upon by all the restaurants he used to work for (stick to the regular menu, experimentation is costly and might not cater to everyone).

A bit of background: Chef Wai writes regular columns (or used to?) for Sing Tao HK Chinese newspaper SF Bay Area edition. I think he still writes freelance articles for certain publications, and the most recent one is EastEats gourmet magazine which the first issue was published by the Cupertino Village mall group. I also recently learned he was an apprentice to one of the top acclaimed chefs at Hong Kong's premiere seafood restaurant, "#1 Abalone" many years ago.
To say he's the Einstein of Cantonese food might even be an understatement.

I have yet to go, but I'm sure it will be very interesting.

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  1. Ahhhhh, thanks for the heads-up!! I walked by there a couple of weeks ago and noticed renovations in progress, and was curious what was going in. I have a friend in the neighborhood, so I'll check it out sometime soon.

    1. Is this the Iron Chef in downtown by Central Park? If so, do you know if they open for lunch on weekdays? I work right by there and this sounds like a place I want to try.

      1 Reply
      1. re: S U

        Across the street from Draeger's? It has to be the same place. How many other Iron Chef's could be that close to Central Park?

      2. The buzz among my mom's friends (all chinese group) is the service is lacking, they had to wait quite a long time for their food, aparently they are still working the bugs out. This was last week.

        1. WOW, you have great sources. I just got a call yesterday from a fan of food but not a hound inviting to try Andy place next week. I did not post since I did not have a second confirmation and had not been myself.

          But I glad Andy found a new place.

          Yes, Chowfun you guessed correctly.

          3 Replies
          1. re: yimster

            I'm good!
            I Must have a good teacher!!
            Lucky San Mateo...Joy Luck and Chef Wai within the same embarassment of riches!

            1. re: ChowFun_derek

              But not good enough to get a invite to lunch. Will report back after I try.

          2. Yes, Chef Wai took over the spot that was Iron Chef (same owners as its prior incarnation as a Malaysian restaurant, which I thought was pretty good to begin with, and once they converted to Cantonese food it went downhill after that). Before the Malaysian restaurant it was uhmm...Fung Shang Cafe or something like that?

            I wonder if Chef Wai (the restaurant, not Andy) will be offering dim sum during lunch (Andy himself does not do dim sum), but even if not, Joy Luck is going to have some stiff competition nonetheless.

            1 Reply
            1. re: K K

              Amazing how "restless" this location is. Before Chef Wai, it was Iron Chef, Island Cafe, Fung Shang Cafe, and Cindy's Buffet the last 3-4 years. Did I miss one?