It only took five years, but I finally made it inside to a Sam Woo’s BBQ…this one in Van Nuys.
The number of times I have tried to go to Sam Woo’s Barbecue and just…well…chickened out because of the lines, is just too many to be believed.
The time I wound up going to Wang Xing Ji’s Dumpling House (which I enjoyed mightily by the way) was originally supposed to be a trip to Sam Woo’s (Facebook only links from here on out. No website). But I saw folks packed by the counter like sardines. I saw a completely full house, and—
—oh, the shame. The shame.
Well, not no more. Sam Woo’s is a place I have to try, and dangit I’m going to get in there.
Even if it means starting lunch at 11:30am.
And…for the record, I recommend it, because it totally worked.
So, the first thing you have got to get used to, on any visit to Sam Woo’s is that it’s going to be crowded. And if it’s not crowded, it soon will be.
Sam Woo’s is a carnivore’s heaven. The menu ain’t that complicated. It’s basically duck, chicken, pork….with a side of duck, chicken or pork. What you’ll be having is Hong-Kong style Barbecue. If you’re a Texan or a someone who partakes of (shudder) Kansas City Barbecue, and you’ve never had Hong-Kong style before, it may take a moment to get used to, but you should like it nonetheless.
Any Sam Woo’s runs like a well-oiled machine, so be prepared. The restaurant is there to get you in, get you fed and get you out. They’re not trying to be mean about it, or anything…but they are highly, highly efficient.
Just be prepared for a big plate of meat, and all that entails. It’s really good. You’ll have to do a bit of work to get at that meat, and you’ll be seriously ready for a nap afterward, but you will enjoy yourself. The greatest meal I’ve ever had? No, but it’s really, really good. I get it. I totally get it why you have to stand in line.
Sam Woo’s…a meal good enough to justify that long, long line you’ve been in.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: I wanted to try a little of everything, so I got a combination plate of Roasted Duck, Soy Sauce Chicken (their most popular dish), and BBQ Pork. It was tasty and delicious and contained enough food to feed two people.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: First time visitors to a place like this might want to keep in mind that, if you eat at a place like this, be prepare to do some work working around or working out bones.
When they chop up your meal, they are chopping right through the tiny tiny bones and serving them right up to you.
The one thing Cooks around the world have discovered is that the tastiest meat is the stuff that closest tot he bone. That’s why T-Bone Steaks are so popular. For the three meats available here, its the same thing. There is no boneless option (nor should you want one). Just get up in there, and work your way around. Don’t be afraid to make a bit of a spectacle of yourself. Don’t worry. No one’s watching. They’re too busy getting their own thang on.
And yes, any one of your bites of food will come with some cuts of fat. That’s okay too. Fat is flavor after all. You can try to be surgically precise and get rid of it all, but you’ll be there for a while.
When you walk in, remember…there’s a little clipboard by the door. Make sure you sign in there before you do anything else. The clipboard is a series of numbers. Just fill in the number of your party, write down the number and wait.
And finally, remember, all Sam Woo’s restaurants are Cash Only.
PARKING: You’d think they’d have enough at the Sam Woo’s in Van Nuys…
The thing of it is, they really do, but it’s always perpetually crowded. There’s a small 99 Ranch Market just two doors down from the restaurant (just like off Valley Blvd). I get the feeling Sam Woo’s is a good place to bring the family before or after a long shopping trip. Still that means that no matter the hour, there are a lot of people crammed up in there. You…will eventually find parking, but you need to be patient.
If you’ve been patient, and still can’t find a space? Take it as a sign, and remember there’s a Wendy’s just down the road.
Sam Woo’s BBQ Restaurant
6450 Sepulveda Blvd
Van Nuys, CA 91411
Tel: (818) 988-6813
Daily: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm