According to today's news (in the San Francisco Chronicle, among other places), Saw Wo's will close tonight. This has been my restaurant-of-choice for lunch ever since I started writing about the recitals in the Noontime Concerts™ series at Old St. Mary's Cathedral. I know that I shall have other options, but I am not sure that any of them will satisfy my craving for congee there.
Mine is a generation that depended on The Underground Gourmet for cheap food that was worth eating. This publication originated in New York, which is where I used it most heavily. However, it did not take long for a San Francisco edition to surface; and it was through that publication that many of us visiting from the East discovered Sam Wo's. I would go back there regularly after my student days had long passed, and I would regularly introduce friends to it. Yet it was only after I started writing about music that I became a "regular" (of sorts), when it turned out that some of the best chamber music in the City could be found in a Catholic church in the middle of Chinatown.
I appreciate the problem. Sam Wo's became too old to keep up with regulations. As a student I was part of a crowd that was always sharing "greasy chopstick" joints. Now grease does not agree with me, but there was still plenty of good eating at Sam Wo's. I find it sad that they cannot keep up with these new regulatory times, and I wonder if Chinatown itself will succumb to the same fate.