Located next door to a 99 Ranch Market in a busy Irvine strip mall is Sam Woo restaurant. The place is divided into 3 sections: a more upscale restaurant, a more casual restaurant, and a deli where you can get food to go. My parents wanted to have a family get together and suggested we meet here for lunch on a Sunday. The upscale restaurant didn’t open until 11:00, and we decided to try the casual side.
The menu on the casual side was pretty much the same as the upscale side, but there’s no lunch special and no dim sum, oh and its cash only. I’m not sure why we chose this side, but my dad picked the casual side. The waiter said we can order dim sum off the upscale menu if we wanted. We started off with an order of pan fried dumplings while we perused the menu. For a “casual side” the prices didn’t seem that cheap.
We finally narrowed down our choices, and picked 3 meats and 3 vegetable dishes. For the meat we chose: House Chicken, a poached chicken marinated in ginger and onions, served chilled. The roast duck and a roast pork.
For the vegetables, we had the sauteed eggplant (not my favorite, a bit stringy), sauteed green beans with minced pork, and fried tofu cubes. I was disappointed in the roast pork, for the puny size, and the tofu for the lack of flavor. Otherwise, the food was good, and the portions for most of the dishes were generous.
As I mentioned, the prices aren’t that much lower than the upscale side, and the downside is they take only cash. However, if you’re looking for a quick bowl of slurpy noodles, or don’t want to wait for a table, the casual side is a great alternative. Otherwise, I’d suggest going next door for the more upscale version if you’re going to pay about the same price.
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