By Rev. Norman Fong

October 23, 2017

Although I sometimes join the crowds that line up to eat at more expensive restaurants outside of Chinatown, I have Loved Eating in SF Chinatown all my life. When I was a little boy, I remember going to different places to eat in Chinatown. Now remember, in the ‘50’s & early ‘60’s, food was very cheap and I didn’t have much money to spend. My dad and mom both worked long hours and so after school, I’d get hungry and go eat on my own or with friends. Can you imagine eating a bowl of rice with gravy on top for only 5 cents or a quarter for a giant plate! I went to many restaurants in the old days to get cheap food that tasted so good!

pork chop house
Roast pork at New Lun Ting Cafe (aka "Pork Chop House“) at 670 Jackson St., San Francisco.

Once in a while, my friend and I would spend a few dollars to eat all kinds of dim sum at the corner of Broadway & Powell – right across from my old school. Occasionally, I’d meet my mom for the best hamburger steak in Chinatown on Stockton St. It was then called TOPs!

Today, we still have so many types of Great Food in Chinatown! I bring people here to eat and if you don’t know Chinatown – you should come on the weekends because there is cheap parking on the bottom of Clay St & Battery called the “Chinatown Park & Ride” Program. Since the financial district doesn’t need their parking spaces on the weekends, they let Chinatown shoppers park there for $3 (for the whole day) if you get a validated stamp from any restaurant or business in Chinatown that has the Park & Ride stamp.

Did you know Chinatown has the BEST CHICKEN WINGS? For years I have taken people from all over the Bay Area and even visitors from other countries to CAPITAL RESTAURANT (839 Clay) to eat those Chicken Wings. Everyone says it’s the best deep fried chicken wings they’ve ever tasted! Every one of my friends from Chinatown agree that Capital’s chicken wings are the best! Yummy!

new lun ting cafe
New Lun Ting Cafe at 670 Jackson St., San Francisco.

capital restaurant andria lo
Salt and pepper chicken wings at Capital Restaurant, 839 Clay St., San Francisco. Photo by Andria Lo.

I know there are many great “Dim Sum” restaurants all over the Bay Area that are great… but for the price, Chinatown has one of the best Dim Dum places too! Have you been to Lai Hong on Powell St. near Broadway! It’s great there and more affordable. Our Chinatown residents eat there all the time so there may be a long waiting line!

For big banquets, there’s still the Far East Café & New Asia where it seems we eat for some community event monthly… For smaller events, I still go to the Garden Restaurant right across from Portsmouth Square garage. My friends in my band and us kids who grew up in Chinatown, we always go to eat at the “Pork Chop House” which is “The New Lun Ting Café” (670 Jackson). It is not a fancy place and has the old style counter… but it serves the BEST ROAST PORK smothered with gravy that fills your plate & most people need a take out box!

When I have to entertain special VIP guests, of course Chinatown has R & G Lounge! We get to use the VIP Room upstairs that has a big table that fits 10-12 people comfortably… and they have the best “Salt & Pepper Crab!” I love so many restaurants in Chinatown and I always leave a big tip because my dad use to work in many of the restaurants. There’s so many small cafes & restaurants … I can’t name them all. There’s also a few more new & fancy ones from China Live to Mister Jiu’s where the food is delicious but you have to pay more. They’re hoping that more folks will come back to Chinatown too. Oops! Don’t forget to eat late night at the old historic Sam Wo! We fought hard to keep Sam Wo alive. We need everyone out there to “EAT CHINATOWN”. What’s your favorite restaurant in Chinatown? New Woey Loy Goey? Hon’s Wun-Tun House? Or do you just want a quick take out from Washington Bakery? The I Café? It doesn’t matter… We all have to help keep the oldest & best Chinatown in America thriving for generations to come…

Originally published in Sing Tao Daily on October 22, 2017

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