Sam Wo Is Closing? The Heartbreak.

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Inside Scoop just broke the news that the beloved, ancient, and wretchedly constructed Sam Wo, subject of this week's Rice Plate Journal, is closing after tomorrow night. Permanently.

What are all the late-night drinkers going to do? SFoodie was just talking to a friend who once set himself on fire during a flaming-Everclear incident up on the third floor. You'll just have to stumble farther up the street to Yuet Lee, where the food is much better; the serviceable My Canh; and the newly renamed Man Kee Cafe (last Broadway Cafe), which has a $20-for-three-dish deal. In memoriam, we present Conan O'Brien's tribute to Sam Wo:


4/25 UPDATE: According to Inside Scoop, the health, fire, and building departments have given Sam Wo's owners one more chance to remedy the problems that caused the restaurant to shut down. Will Sam Wo reopen? We can hope.

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UPDATE: According to 

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Sam Wo Restaurant

813 Washington St., San Francisco, CA

Category: Restaurant

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R. James
R. James

I started at Sam Wo after new years 1970. Got a kick out of the 'kama kasi' waiter and took friends there when they came to town to 'shock' them while I was stationed in SF. It wouldn't be the same in another building. I'll be using it in my novels!

 

Please
Please

The sign out front should read: “Forced To Close By Government Bureaucrats”. It would be nice to know what the issues the inspectors have. After 100+ years in business one would think some type of historical preservation clause would apply. Ed Lee? Rose Pak? Where art thou?

Chris
Chris

Historic preservation laws protect the physical integrity of historic designated structures, they don't provide special exemptions from health and fire safety codes. 

Some of the health violations were completely related to human behavior, like not cleaning the restaurant and allowing dead rats and droppings to accumulate, compliance would be achieved by either getting new employees or training the existing ones to clean and use proper hygiene.  However, the other violations, as I understand, were structural safety violations in the building.  

The landlord and owner are looking at renovating the building to bring it in line with the required health and safety codes, and if they complete the renovations, it will be reopened, if not, then it will stay closed.

 

Wendilee1956
Wendilee1956

Conan, help keep Sam Wo's open!  This is an institution in SF.  When I lived here in 1975-76, I used to go to Sam Wo's a couple of times a week.  I met Edsel Ford, the crankiest waiter in the world.  I have stories, myths, legends about this place.  Sam Wo's is a true original.  A couple of years ago, I went there with a friend who was a gourmand.  She had never heard of it.  It was amazing.  The prices were about the same.  The kitchen was about the same.  The food was as tasty and wonderful as when Edsel Ford made me eat a curry noodle soup all those years ago because I was still stuffed up from a cold.  (Thank you, Edsel, wherever you are!)Sam Wo's used to be (maybe still is) not a licensed restaurant but a licensed noodle factory and licensed cabaret, which somehow makes it able to function as a restaurant.  Back in the '70s, Sam Wo's was always informed about when the inspector was coming.  The buildings had to be a certain width and Sam's was a foot short of the regulation width.  Because the building inspectors measured the storefront, Sam's employees would paint one set of bricks the same color in order to get the correct width (with permission from neighbors, of course).  I have never forgotten this place, same as DLovesGolf.  Sam Wo's MUST be saved.  Even the health inspectors are trying to find a way to save it.  So Conan, if you want to do something really good for San Francisco, save our little Chinese noodle factory/cabaret for us.  I am not able to go there often anymore, but I will be moving closer to the area soon and would miss having my little home away from home. 

Joyce
Joyce

I will always have a soft spot for Sam Wo as my grandfather use to come help out on the 3rd floor during the busy times when Edsel called him.  It's an end of an era.

Warbird_21
Warbird_21

Been eatin' here for years sad to see it go. Iliked edsel he was a good man and the people here were very friendly. Will miss this place.

Katherine
Katherine

Yes, I remember Edson Fong and how he loved to insult the young girls that cameupstairs where he was the waiter.  He would also yelled at all the tourist and toldthem where to sit.  Chinatown will definitely not be the same with Sam Wo andlate night porridge with greasy long fried breads.  Good-bye to a long standinglandmark and whenever I think about the place I'll laugh and chuckle thinking back to those good-old-days.  Katherine L.G.

pat
pat

Could this be some tasteless 4-20 joke? Your walk up the up the hill to yuet lee will leave you feeling sad and empty hearted... 'where the food is much better?!'  PORK. RICE. NOODLE. ROLLS.  Yuet Lee- Sam Wo's challenges you to a late-night chinese food, cookoff challenge.  Winner stays.  Expect to see a no-holds bar, Big Trouble Little China - style melee.  San Francisco, its time to trim the fat and keep a SF staple/legend alive!

DLovesGolf
DLovesGolf

Sad news.  But the commercial was great.  I have lived on the East Coast for over 30 years now, but have never forgotten Sam Wo's.  I was a regular in the Edall Ford Fong days, and being insulted by him was always so much fun.  First place I ever had Chow Fung, and have never had any better. 

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