Apr 22, 2012

Edsel Ford Fung

From Don Martensen, MPHS Jan 66

On a more frivolous note, US News also reported the closing of a 100-year old restaurant in San Francisco's Chinatown. The place became famous in the 1970's for having "the world's rudest waiter."

In 1974, a college friend from Chicago, visited me in Davis. Casey had a pretty keen sense of humor, so I took him to Sam Wo's without clueing him, in advance, about the antics of the infamous waiter, Edsel Fong.

It was a real hoot to watch Casey deal with the situation. We entered the funky small restaurant via the first floor kitchen. Diners had to take a stairway in the kitchen up to the second floor dining room. Edsel Fong met us standing at the top of the stairs, immediately frowned, and then gruffly pointed us to a table. Once we were seated, he threw menus on the table and gave us only a moment to survey it before pressing us for our orders. Casey made a selection and Fong grimaced, saying "No one orders that. Pick something else." The second order got a frown and a head shake. The third attempt met with his approval.

As we waited for our food to arrive, orders for other tables arrived via a dumb waiter device from the first floor kitchen. When Fong noticed them come up, he yelled at Casey and told him to deliver the food to the guests at another table. "You! I'm too busy here! Take that tray over to table 6."

Shocked at first, Casey got into it and played along. "Where's table 6?" he asked.

"Do I have to teach you everything? Corner table," Fong replied.

Fong, I think, eventually met his match when he had to tell Casey to go back to our table and sit down. After Casey delivered the orders to table 6, I saw him smile at me over the absurdity of the whole scene. That's when, unprompted, he began making the rounds to the other tables, asking guests "How's your food? Can I get you anything else?" He may have even recommended to one table a dish that Fong had earlier nixed for us.

We eventually got our food and I recall it was pretty good.

When we finished, Fong dropped our order ticket and a state sales tax chart on our table and commanded us to add up our own bill. We had to ask to see the menu again to get the prices of each dish.



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