Wo Hing Opens in S.F.'s Mission District, and Why It Matters to Monterey County
October 27, 2011
Even as Charles Phan continues to further cement himself as one of the most influential chefs in the West and the wider world, he is making more and more appearances in Monterey County.
This last year alone, he was a key ingredient at a Pebble Beach clambake fundraiser for the AT&T Pro-Am, starred at Cooking for Solutions and headlined Pebble Beach Food & Wine for the second time in as many years. He enjoys an increasingly tight relationship with the Coastal Luxury Management team. When I spoke with him at L.A. Food & Wine, affection for Monterey County was one of his favorite topics of conversation.
With that in mind, the Weekly's David Schmalz swooped into on Phan's latest project for a press preview in advance of today's Oct. 28 grand opening. Here's what he found out:
It seems that San Francisco star chef Phan has to keep opening new restaurants just to accommodate all the diners he has to turn away from the Slanted Door, his bustling Ferry Building joint that already fills more bellies than any other place in the city. His latest project, Wo Hing General Store, is a much anticipated return to the the Slanted Door’s original Valencia Street location (which once unexpectedly entertained the likes of President Clinton and daughter Chelsea), and the name is a tribute to Phan’s uncle (Wo) and father (Hing) who opened a general store together after immigrating to Vietnam from China in 1951.
The food is also throwback, focusing on locally-sourced small plates inspired by Chinese street food, and though the menu (which will be executed by rising star chef Michelle Mah) is still in the tweaking, some of the crowd pleasers on offer at the Oct. 19 pre-opening press party were delectable shumai (pork dumplings), salt and pepper shrimp (still in the shell), and a delicate mushroom and yuba (tofu skin) salad that could bring tears to a monk’s eyes. The dessert dish of sesame mochi with vanilla custard was delightful, and the so were the cocktails, my favorite being the Laughing Water—a libation of rye whiskey, dry vermouth, pineapple juice, lemon and cinnamon—which was a sweet and spicy party on the palate.
Wo Hing will seat between 70-90 patrons, and is set to open to the public on Oct. 28. For those who had the privilege to dine at the original Slanted Door, they will find a space transformed: Architect and designer T. Olle Lundberg has made striking use of local off-cast materials to create an atmosphere that blends perfectly with the street food concept, utilizing salvaged bowling alley lanes for the bartop and tables, as well as clear and powder-striped glass that is identical to the material used for Muni bus shelters (his firm had the Muni contract).
Reservations for Wo Hing are recommended, and though lunch is in the making, the restaurant will be dinner-only when it opens. For local foodies who occasionally make their way to the bay, add another spot to the bucket list.
Wo Hing General Store, 584 Valencia St., San Francisco. (415) 552-2510, www.winghogeneralstore.com.>