Clara Kleindorfer and Kathleen Chen
Sam Woo Barbecue: A Place Like Home
Updated: Oct 11, 2020
LA Treasured Family-Owned Cantonese Establishment
barbecue duck, young chow fried rice, and wonton noodles｜pc: Sophia J. Chang
Sam Woo Barbecue embodies the true meaning of “Jiā” and holds such a special place in our hearts, which is why we feel so honored to feature it as our first restaurant. It is not only one of the biggest and first authentic Cantonese cultural institutions in Los Angeles, but one of the only places where my grandparents felt accepted when they first immigrated to America. From the glistening ducks displayed to the eclectic
lighting, Sam Woo is a place where people of all ages can be part of a community that reminds them of home, of jiā.
Established in LA almost four decades ago by a father and his two sons, the family-run restaurant acts as a beacon of hope and inspiration to many immigrant families. Similar to any successful immigrant story, Sam Woo had humble beginnings as a takeout stand in Chinatown run by members of their family. While they were told that it wasn’t likely that they would do well, they forged on and worked 12 hour days, approaching everything they did with the intention of working as hard as they could. People started to buy more and more from the takeout stand, which gave the Sam Woo family the opportunity to expand. Today, there are multiple Sam Woo Barbecue restaurants standing in the greater Los Angeles area.
Ever since the opening of Sam Woo, the restaurant has always served food traditional
to its origin. Each chef is trained by the owner personally to maintain the quality and close-to-heart authenticity that many restaurants no longer have. Their famous barbecue duck is known by almost all Asians in the San Gabriel Valley because of the traditional flavors and quality. The juxtaposition between the tenderness of the duck
and the crispness of the skin brings the utmost satisfaction and is a combination that all food lovers dream of. Sam Woo has truly conquered the art of cooking the perfect duck. Their Young Chow fried rice includes the perfect grain and balance between all ingredients, which are the keys to a great fried rice. It is so delicious that an image of a bowl of their fried rice often drifts into my mind around lunchtime. Also, their crispy noodles are treasured by all ages because of the noodles’ desirable crunch that is topped off with ripe bok choy and mixture of chicken and seafood.
While they have not experienced direct xenophobia, Sam Woo sales have dropped 80 percent since the first case of COVID-19. During Chinese New Year, the most celebrated holiday in East Asian culture, many Sam Woo customers canceled reservations due to anxiety about the Coronavirus. Sam Woo has also faced the unexpected hardships of transitioning to distance friendly service, including following new government regulations and switching to new delivery technology. Today, you will find their family helping out as much as they can in the kitchen and at the storefront.
937 E Las Tunas Dr. Ste C, San Gabriel, CA 91776
Takeout: (626)286-3118｜Delivery: Doordash, Postmates, and Grubhub
514 Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803
Takeout: (626)281-0038｜Delivery: Doordash, Postmates and Grubhub
15333 Culver Dr #720, Irvine, CA 92606
Takeout: (949)262-0688｜Delivery: Doordash, Postmates and Grubhub
19008 Pioneer Blvd, Cerritos, CA 90703
Takeout: (562)865-7278｜Delivery: Doordash, Postmates and Grubhub