In the 1970’s, this was probably the most famous restaurant in San Francisco's Chinatown. They have a ton of signed photos of old celebrities, athletes, politicians and even a president on their walls. It was unique for a few reasons. One was that to enter, you had to walk through the kitchen which was so narrow that the line cooks and servers would have to press themselves against the stoves and woks to let you get by. Then to reach the second floor dining room, you had to climb a steel stairway which was so small that two people traveling in opposite directions would never be able to pass one another. The tables were small and the seats were wooden benches.
Back in the 70's the owner would openly solicit tips from the queue of people waiting for a table. If you tipped him well, you went to the front of the line. If you objected, he chased you away and told you to go to another restaurant. Once you were inside he often would tell you what to order as well. He was funny but could also be rude. I had the opportunity to eat here a couple of years ago and found out that the owner had passed away, and the food which was fantastic was now just mediocre. When I took this photo, I didn’t notice the little girl looking down at me from the dining room. Sam Wo’s, now a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to eat there.