Thursday, May 19, 2011

An Institution Known As Sam Woo

For as long as I have been living in San Gabriel, Sam Woo was here. It was never one of my favorite, but I never disliked anything they made. Perhaps it was the long lines from the hordes of people that hovers around the restaurant almost all the time, or perhaps it's the tight space the tables and chairs occupy. A few years back, maybe even more then ten years ago or so, Sam Woo opened a second store near my home. This one was far less crowded then the original. Somehow it also feels just a bit less desirable than the original.

(Wonton and Duck Egg Noodle Soup)
Sam Woo to me is synonymous to wontons. If anything, I must give them credit to make the most authentic Hong Kong style wontons with a special dried fish ingredient. Without those itty bitty dried fish (daai dei jyu 大地魚) the wontons are just a clump of meat.

Of course Sam Woo also has one of the best siu lap (roasted poutry) around, as that really is their specialty. Their ducks are especially well made, nicely seasoned and perfectly roasted. The only problem is their soup and noodle tends to be a little bit on the salty side, especially when the already intensely flavored ducks are added.

(Triple Shreds)
I don't actually remember the name for this dish at Sam Woo, at least not the English name. I don't recall there was actually an English name since it was on one of their special menus. It was my father who decided to order something different today. There were shreds of pork and veggies and seafood in a very nicely blended flavor that was very palatable when eaten with some rice. I'm a rice person, I eat everything with rice. The better the food is, the faster the rice goes in my family.

(Lemon Iced Tea)
The Lemon Iced Tea in Sam Woo is definitely not up to par compared to most Cantonese cafes, mostly because Sam Woo really isn't a Cantonese cafe. It does have its own unique, but still rather light flavor. If you ended up ordering it with sugar, they tend to be over-the-top sweet, where it's almost like drinking syrup water. So I have to opt for the sugarless, which is actually what I prefer these days anyways. They have their own house blend of tea which I personally find not strong enough.

(Pineapple Satay Beef with Rice)
I love Satay. I love Pineapple. Put the two together, it really should be my favorite dish. I just don't remember to order it as much as I like it, and I do like Sam Woo's version of this flavorful dish. The pineapple really contrast with the satay, giving it a nice sweetness to the saltiness. The bell peppers accentuate the sweetness even more while the satay really brings out the beef. Over rice, it's heaven.

(Dried Vegetable Soup)
I'm not a big fan of Sam Woo for some odd reason. I think it's really the environment. I just don't feel relaxed. I feel rushed, and I sense the disconnect with the waiters. It almost reminds me of a street side restaurant in Hong Kong where I would literally sit down for ten minutes to gobble down a bowl of noodles and then be on my way. That really isn't what I'm looking for in a restaurant and I certainly don't want to dine at one that makes me feel this way. I suppose I could always just come back to Sam Woo for take out whenever I don't feel like cooking, and go elsewhere for a more laid back dinning experience.



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