Arnold Eric Wong is the Executive Chef of E&O Trading Company and is that rare born and bred San Francisco native. His style of modern “East-meets-West” Asian cuisine has evolved over nearly twenty years or professional cooking experience. The California Culinary Academy alum has worked the stoves at Bacar, EOS Restaurant and Wine Bar (Wong’s first restaurant), Cafe Kati, Masa’s, and as an opening pastry chef position at Silk’s in the Mandarin Hotel, where he started his career. E&O’s seasonal contemporary Asian menu has garnered the chef media accolades from the San Francisco Chronicle, and View from the Bay (with dumpling recipe). Wong was a “Rising Star Chef’s of the Year under 30″ by the San Francisco Chronicle, and said he lives with his wife Amy and son Aidan “in Cole Valley, adjacent to the Haight-Ashbury and Ashbury heights. But when I was born and raised here, it was all just the Haight.” Wong shared his food and restaurant favorites with Bay Area Bites, with an assist from Amy.
Food Shopping Favorites
Well, can’t wait until the weather warms up as I always go to the farmers markets, whether at the Ferry Building or the local neighborhood ones, either in the Castro or Haight. I try to take my family along. We have a 3-year-old that simply loves it every time and if there’s music, well then he’s got fruit in his hands dancing to the music. We also like to go to Berkeley Bowl. On one of my first dates with my wife, we spent three hours there just browsing the aisles and shopping for dinner.
If it’s ethnic foods, I bounce between Sunset Super Market in the Sunset District and New May Wah Market in the Richmond. At either of those places you can find any Asian ingredient you’ll ever need. For produce, I’ll only buy it if it’s something that only grows in Asia and there are no substitutes, everything else tends never to be organic or pesticide free. I’m always on the look out for fresh live spot prawns, Dungeness crabs and lobsters.
But, I do have to confess as a chef… I have the privilege of being able to shop directly from some of the purveyors that I have used in my restaurants over the years. So for meats, I go to Golden Gate Meats and Costarella Seafood. They also have a retail store in the Ferry Building.
I like to shop for food on Clement Street in the Richmond district, Wing Lee or Clement BBQ for their roasted duck. Luckily fast food chains haven’t figured out to put duck onto their menus yet and duck farming hasn’t gone the way of the scary chicken industry. I’ll get a 1/2 or whole duck, take it home, debone the meat and make a simple soup stock from the bones and add everything from fresh noodles to veggies.
Off-night Food & Drink Spots
Range is great, belly up to the bar for a great last minute late night (9, 10, 11 depending on what night) cocktail and either an appetizer or dessert.
Magnolia in my hood has a great selection of beers made on premise. They have great “gastro” pub food too including fried pig ears and beer. It’s a perfect spot because we can stumble home, too 😉
Guiltiest food pleasure?
- Late-night 4 chorizo soft tacos at El Farolito on Mission & 24th
- Another late night snack… Fork in the Road Hot Dog, Kim Chee and American cheese rolled up in a corn tortilla
- Root & Crème Fraiche Ice Cream
How did you two meet?
I have a very simple “manswer” (man answer). We met in 2004 at Bacar in the midst of my running it. But, if you would indulge me, I’ll let her give the proper answer. Trust me, it’s worth it.
I worked in Silicon Valley tech and so worked from home (Lake Merritt) almost everyday and so Friday happy hour started at 3pm — at Bacar — literally a 10 min drive from my home. It was my absolute favorite place, not only for the incredible wine list and phenomenal menu, but because I was treated like royalty. I thought it was because everyone just liked me but, no … Little did I know (and for many months) ‘Mr. big boss man’ had a HUGE crush on me and so that tickled the entire staff to know that the incredibly serious and focused owner got giddy when I showed up. Long story short, he got one of the managers to invite me (and yes! bring my friends) to his big bacar/eos staff labor day party at his house. I showed up with the guy I was dating. My date proceeded to get drunk and tell everyone he was going to marry me and the staff now confesses that that they simply chuckled, thinking, “Yeah right buddy, you’re in the lion’s den now.” One of his employees, Cheryl, and I sat in the kitchen over a bottle of wine and became new best friends. She convinced me to let her take me out for my birthday which was the next month and of course, being in cahoots with Arnold, she had arranged it at EOS. Meanwhile, I’m COMPLETELY clueless, I show up at EOS on the designated date — champagne is waiting on the table for us, appetizers, you name it. I seriously thought that this crowd I was getting to know couldn’t be nicer. Um, naive?? So Arnold joined us after our dinner and the three of us stayed there until 3 in the morning! It wasn’t until near the end of the night when he left the table (probably to get another bottle of wine) that Cheryl said, “You DO know he likes you, right?” And then everything came together in a flash and, “ahhhhhh, ohhhhh, now I get it!!” And then “ohhhh, huh, he is really good looking!” And that’s how it started. He swears that he ended up asking me out on our first date (for that Friday) but that’s not true, I was the one who initiated it. That birthday dinner at EOS was on a Monday, our first date was that Friday — four restaurants in one evening. We had met our matches. Four months later we were engaged. His take: he KNEW that I was his wife the moment he laid eyes on me at Bacar. My take: he saw the bill I would rack up every time I was in Bacar.
Any other news?
I am thinking about expanding my restaurant consulting business, possibly starting a food-lifestyle blog and threatening a new restaurant (in the perfect storm).
Wong said he’s “Ready for my 15 minutes of fame.”