Not Exactly Closed, But Not Exactly Open: Far East Cafe, Chloe's Cafe, Tripleta

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The irreplaceable and historic interior of Far East Cafe. Yelp photo by Todd H.

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The braised pork shoulder from Tripleta. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

I was so incredibly sorry to hear ~FAR EAST CAFE~ in Chinatown was closing on New Year’s Eve, just before their 100th birthday. Seriously, big thud. The vintage interior is such a remarkable time capsule, with private booths and opulent chandeliers and lanterns that made you realize the tourists were really onto something. There is also a banquet and party room upstairs, one of the few remaining in Chinatown. (You can read and see more about the restaurant in this profile here.) There was an outcry from Chinatown (and concerned city residents) about the lack of support for the neighborhood’s suffering restaurants, and supervisors Aaron Peskin and Sandra Lee Fewer stepped in to propose a $1.9M Chinatown Restaurant Support & Food Security package to help bring some relief to restaurants while helping to feed seniors and families.

While supervisors and other city agencies continue to fine-tune the proposed economic relief package for Chinatown, SF New Deal was able to immediately increase their orders with Far East Cafe—the restaurant will now provide weekly meals to Gum Moon Women’s Residence (they were already providing some meals for the Great Plates Delivered program). Far East, along with Capital Restaurant (another beloved Chinatown staple), will be the preferred providers for this women’s supportive housing site located in Chinatown, as long as Far East Cafe can continue to stay open. Talk about a last-minute save (for now)! Amazing.

It doesn’t appear that Far East Cafe is currently open for takeout, no one picks up their phone, but if you hear they have reopened to the public, order some won ton soup or mustard greens with pork and salted egg or their delicious egg foo young (classic!). Here’s hoping they make it through this immensely challenging time, they have an important birthday to celebrate. 631 Grant Ave. at Sacramento, 415-982-3245.

After 33 years of serving banana-walnut pancakes and scrambles to a dedicated following of regulars, ~CHLOE’S CAFE~ has been sold to new owners. The cafe is currently closed for a remodel, and they plan to reopen as Chloe’s Kitchen for takeout in late January (the website mentions January 22nd). 1399 Church St. at 26th St.

After experiencing an incredible test meal of ~TRIPLETA~, the new Puerto Rican pop-up in the former AL’s Deli from brothers José and Juan Rigau and chef Aaron London (AL’s Place), I was dismayed to learn they had suddenly suspended operations just a few days later.

But what’s worse, Eater shares that it was reportedly due to a disagreement over changing ownership terms (ugh, the curse of verbal agreements), and the piece also mentions: “According to the Rigaus, when they attempted to reach a compromise regarding the partnership, London instead locked them out of a shared Google drive account containing their recipes, and brought a sous chef and line cook from Al’s Place (which is temporarily closed) into the kitchen. Then he verbally suspended their partnership and kicked them off the premises, the Rigaus say.” London says the brothers’ recounting and explanation of the events are “firmly and factually incorrect.” The whole thing is so unfortunate and extremely messed-up. Here’s hoping the Rigaus find another way to share their family recipes with us, the food was bangin’. I know London collaborated and applied some technique and tweakin’ to their recipes, but I can’t imagine running that concept without them. 598 Guerrero St. at 18th St.