My favorite restaurant in the world is on Sacramento Street in the heart of San Francisco's Financial District between Montgomery and Kearny.
Its original location was at the corner of Jackson and Kearny Streets, opened in 1974 by the husband-and-wife team of Henry and Diana Chung, but that location was demolished after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
There was quite a to-do in 1976 when Tony Hiss, son of the infamous Alger, wrote a "Talk of the Town" piece in "The New Yorker" which started:
"The Hunan Restaurant, at 853 Kearny Street, in Chinatown, the best Chinese restaurant in the world, has counter space for ten people, tables for twenty..."The place became a bit too popular, but other restaurants like House of Nanking arrived on the scene and the Hunan stopped being trendy and simply became perfect.
The restaurant serves fresh, spicy Hunan food at low prices, and the mothers and grandmothers laboring all afternoon at hot woks have been feeding me beautifully for over 30 years now.
There are four Henry's Hunan locations around town run by various children and grandchildren of Henry and Diana (who died in 2003), but the Sacramento Street spot is my favorite, mostly because it is presided over by Linda Chung (above) who is one of the nicest people in the world.
On Wednesday the 6th, I stopped in for a very late lunch and found myself the only customer left when the crew sat down for a celebratory birthday lunch for Linda, complete with a huge cake which they insisted on sharing. It felt like being adopted by a large, extended family. Happy birthday, Miss Linda, and may there be many more.