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Check, Please!: A Look Into Chinese Hospitality In Chinatown Restaurants

Sam Wo Restaurant is the place to go to to experience "real" Chinese hospitality.

Every restaurant-goer has had their fair share of inadequate dining experiences whether it be from a high-end place or a fast-food joint. But many tourists and even some locals notice that Chinatown restaurants don’t exactly place customer service as top priority.

Perhaps, we’re holding these Chinese restaurants to the American standard of dining where the customer is always right. Or maybe we’re just not used to Chinese hospitality in restaurants. Nevertheless, many foodies like myself end up asking for the check a little too early.

“I get a little scared when I walk into a restaurant in Chinatown,” said Bay Area local Yuki Kokoro. “The servers tend to be short-tempered. They will quickly come and take your order, bring your food and never speak to you again.”

In particular, many locals rave about the Sam Wo Restaurant located between Grant Avenue and Waverly Place. This restaurant has gained some notoriety for serving its customers with “brutal” Chinese hospitality, said Cynthia Yee, who is one of many Chinatown personalities. The restaurant was also featured on Conan O’Brian.

“This place is where you go if you want to experience real Chinese hospitality,” said Yee. “You’re in and your out.”

Some locals believe that it is the culture clash of Eastern and Western restaurant service that we’re not realizing here.

“Many of my non-Chinese friends always ask me why Chinese waiters are so rude,” said Kiki Lim, a 66-year-old Chinatown resident. “I say ‘they’re rude to me, too!’. The servers have this reasoning that they’re too good for their jobs. That explains their curt attitude.”

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