Friday, April 20, 2012

Farewell, Sam Wo's

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.

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