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Aug 28, 2008 10:27 PM

One for the Clement St. historians: Lee Hou the first?

Lee Hou's new owners have adorned the restaurant's once-sedate windows with displays gaudier than any Times Square hot dog emporium, so you can blame sensory overload if you've missed the claim that Lee Hou was "The Very First Chinese Restaurant on Clement."

Can anybody confirm or counter that claim?

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  1. Could be...hard to say since it's been renovated a few times. It use to be quite scary way back in 80s but by then it didn't matter. I ate at Hou's last in the mid/late 90s. It was okay but if it's the very first...doesn't matter to me. I use to go to Chan's Chinese Kitchen next door (before they closed in the last 90s.).

    Chan's would take instructions on how you wanted something cooked w/o giving you a hard time, specifically tomato beef chow mein with some black beans...and no ketchup. Chan's is now another Chinese place but I've never been.

    1. Yet Wah has been around since the '60's.

      1. In addition to Yet Wah, I think Clement Restaurant predates Hou's. There were also a couple places on the side streets right off Clement that were pretty old and helped introduce Dim Sum to the area, but they are long closed.

        1. When did they say they opened? I would be very surprised if there hadn't been Chinese restaurants on Clement for many decades, if only old-fashioned chop suey joints.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            I believe there was one Chinese place on Geary, but Clement was a different type of neighborhood at the time. When Yet Wah opened it was a big deal with lines every day.

            1. re: sugartoof

              I once had a really delicious creamy curry at Yet Wah and asked what was in it and the wait person said it was bananas. I'm not sure I believe it. this was probably in the early 70s.

            2. re: Ruth Lafler

              I used to buy cha siu bao (sp) on the way home in about 1970 from a small place on Clement that had probably been there awhile. It probably wasn't the only one.

            3. There's a few pastry places on Clement and 21st and there abouts that have been there forever and look like least the 60s is my guess, if not older.