San Francisco

San Francisco was named one of the breakout travel searches of 2016 by Google. For those wondering, “What to do in San Francisco,” and wanting some insider intel on where to go (and what to eat), one of our favorite SF neighborhoods is Chinatown. Loews Regency San Francisco concierge Calvin Lam provides his personal favorite neighborhood spots.

calvin lam

Calvin, how long have you lived in San Francisco?

I was born and raised in San Francisco; and have lived in the Outer Richmond for the past 35 years.

What is your favorite neighborhood in the city?

Chinatown is one of my favorite neighborhoods in San Francisco.

In Chinatown, what’s your…

… favorite thing to do?

I enjoy visiting the local markets for fresh vegetables, meats, fresh local seafood and Chinese snacks that can only found in Chinatown. Things like shrimp chips or white rabbit candy, which are some of my childhood favorites.

… favorite place to go?

Dim Sum

I enjoy eating at the local dim sum houses; one of my favorites is City View, located in the heart of Chinatown, where the locals and visitors go to savor the flavors of Asia. The ladies will go around the tables wheeling their carts and trays offering fresh dim sum from the kitchen. I can order specialty items as well, such as stir-fried beef chow fun or Peking duck. The steamy hot dishes include: shrimp dumplings, pork sui mai and many other appetizing items which remind me of visiting Hong Kong.  Many of the diners in the restaurant will be speaking in their local dialects and it gives me a sense of home from the times I have visited my parent’s home country.

… favorite bite to eat?

When in Chinatown, my go to place after work for late-night dining would be a place called Sam Wo. While it has mostly been frequented by locals, some tourists know about this casual hidden gem. The original location has closed but it has found a new home nearby that is set to open in late summer. Yea!

The restaurant makes rice rolls to order.  Each roll is filled with julienned barbeque pork along with julienned egg strips (which are crepe-like), fresh cilantro and green scallions.  Soy sauce and a Chinese version of hot mustard is provided on the side.  Chinese hot mustard is different from the American style, as it has a bit of a kick to it; I only need a little dab.

Consider this a warning — whenever I’ve dined in at Sam Wo, the waitresses are a little rude, which is part of the ambiance (the waitresses tend to give you attitude if you do not know what you want in advance.)  It is a family-owned business, it stays open very late and the prices are very reasonable.

Thank you for the great tips, Calvin!