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Feb 24, 2014 11:51 AM

Is Sam Woo on Valley Blvd, the best of the bunch ????

And is all one gets there the Roast BBQ Duck ????


I'm not sure I've ever been to any of there locations.

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  1. The restaurants are generally not related. The one on Valley is the best one as long as you don't eat there--the ambiance is lacking but the food is good.

    The roast pork is good there. Chow mein isn't bad, but I go there mainly for the duck and pork.

    3 Replies
    1. re: raytamsgv

      For some reason when driving by, I thought the location on Valley was purely takeout. If not, it must be super tiny on the inside. ???? Is that somewhat correct ?

      1. re: kevin

        Depends on your definition of tiny. But that's not the main interesting "feature" about the dining area. You could use the layers of grease on the walls in an archeological study.

        1. re: kevin

          that's because there's a window to the right side of the door to facilitate display of the meats/etc, but not on the left side. the door is actually roughly centralized and marks the division of area for takeout on the right, and seating are on the left.

          and IIRC, the walls inside have been painted at least once in the last ten years when they put up their new menus on the walls. so the layers of grease only measure back to the last painting.

      2. No. Clearly Irvine is the best. The others (which are loosely related by family) are also rans.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Chandavkl

          I agree with the "also ran" part -- I ate last year at the one on Sepulveda Blvd. in Van Nuys and was underwhelmed.

          1. re: Chandavkl

            Damn, are there multiple locations in Irvine ?

            Which would be the one to hit up ?

            1. re: kevin

              No, just the one in the big shopping center at Culver and Irvine Center Dr. The S.W. Seafood on Walnut is not a Sam Woo.

            2. re: Chandavkl

              i thought the branches were owned/operated by daughters of the original one. marry one of the daughters and get free beef chow fun for life.

            3. The one on Valley is the "best" in the same way the original Tommy's on Rampart is the best.

              It's greasy, dingy and the food has character. Best for roast duck, whole pigs, chicken feet and offals, as well as a good dish of stir-fried pork's blood.

              You go to Sam Woo Irvine when you actually want to eat with tablecloths, chopsticks (ceramic or porcelain) and carpet underneath your feet, without fear of contracting Hepatitis A, B, C, D and F, or all of them.

              One isn't better than the other.

              Just. Different. Entirely.

              It's like I don't wear my 10-year old Converse sneakers to meet the future in-laws, but then I wouldn't put on my pair of Bruno Magli monkstraps to swap out the coilovers on my car either.


              There you go. Probably more words spent on Sam Woo (each of them) than either deserve, collectively.

              2 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  You mean your chauffeur doesn't also offer automobile maintenance, ipse? For shame.

                2. i'm partial due to the proximity, and the fact that i ate there every friday night back in the early 90's before i learned that one of the waiters is my cousin when he also showed up at my aunt's funeral.

                  i understand that the post 10:30pm specials aren't bad though i must say i've probably only eaten there 2-3 times in the last 10 years, but have done the sporadic takeout when i'm in the mood. and if i fly back east to visit the parents, i'll get a duck there to take with me.

                  1. I didn't even realize this was a chain but I frequent the one in Cerritos and I love both the atmosphere and the food. There's always huge families in there pigging out on lazy Susans full of plates. I wish I was in their family lol

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: iheartcooking

                      They have a branch in Las Vegas and have had a couple in Toronto. Indeed, one prior discussion of Sam Woo was moved by the moderators to the "Chains" boards because of that.

                      1. re: iheartcooking

                        you do understand that (at least in this case) there is no one named sam - it's an anglicized version of the number 3. in cantonese. more commonly anglicized as sam wah, you can probably find some business with that name in any sizable concentration of cantonese population in the US.

                        1. re: barryc

                          Wow. Thanks Barry for clearing up my incessant ignorance.

                          And I thought there was an actual Mr. Sam Wooo.

                          1. re: kevin

                            So have a couple of restaurant reviewers.

                            1. re: kevin

                              I'm sure there is an actual "Sam Woo" somewhere in the world. Just not affiliated with his (supposed) eponymous restaurant.

                            2. re: barryc

                              The Chinese characters (δΈ‰ε’Œ) are pronounced "Som waugh" ("augh" as in "naught"). In the old days, if you emigrated from Hong Kong, "sam" would be the British spelling equivalent for "som" because of the way the British pronounced their short "a" sound.

                              "Sam Woo" is just a anglicization of of the Cantonese pronunciations of the characters. Additionally, I don't think ε’Œ is ever used as a last name.

                              You can translate the name as "three harmonies" or something like that.

                              1. re: raytamsgv

                                this also clarifies what may look like a "rip off" of the saw woo chain: saw world, sam whatever.could just be just a different chinese take on "A-1".