Ive decided that the server can really make or break the meal.
For lunch today I ventured to Sam Woo Barbecue in Alhambra. It was already 75% full at 11:00 am. There are probably about 18 tables in there for eating-in, as well as a buffet take-out.
I waited a few seconds upon walking in, not knowing if you seat yourself, or if you were to be seated by the establishment. Upon seeing me, the one lady serving the whole place was very gracious and showed me to a table.
And that set the tone for the whole meal. She was always right there and available, not only to me, but to all the tables. And they turned pretty quickly. So in the 45 minutes or so that I was there, she probably served 20 tables (including the turnover). It was awesome. She just seemed to be right there whenever anyone wanted anything. Whether it was water, or a to-go box, or a special hot sauce, I never saw anyone in the whole place wait for anything. Wow.
Okay, now the food.
Immediately upon ordering, I was brought a rich beef broth with a big chunk of bone in the bottom of the bowl. It was soothing and delicious.
The roasted half duck was served properly cut-up on a plate by itself. As with any Chinese duck Ive ever had, its not cut in the traditional breast, leg, thigh fashion, but rather into uniform ¾ inch pieces regardless of bone structure. Its served alone with a small dish of sauce.
It was tasty, but the skin was not crisp, and the fat had not rendered out. I originally thought Id strut my limited chopstick prowess, but quickly learned that Id be there all afternoon if I continued down that path. So I just picked up the pieces and gnawed away. It was so flavorful that I didnt use the sauce at all (other than to taste it).
All in all, it was a great meal and I was glad I tried this place. They have a huge menu including congees, noodles, Chinese specialties, and lots of other stuff. If Im back in that area, Im going to try some of their other dishes. Lunch was $8.10, including tea and steamed rice.
Sam Woo Barbeque
514 West Valley Boulevard (East of Atlantic)