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Friday, January 20, 2012

Has Hing Lung Really Been Shut Down for Six Months?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2012 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge Hing Lung's front kitchen, at least, looked presentable. - W. BLAKE GRAY
  • W. Blake Gray
  • Hing Lung's front kitchen, at least, looked presentable.

The English-language newspapers and food blogs haven't made mention of it, but in early December, the San Francisco Department of Public Health shut down jook hall and longtime SFoodie favorite Hing Lung (674 Broadway) -- and not a temporary closure, either. The dining room of the space has been emptied out, and onflicting rumors have been making their way around Chinatown and the internet: Hing Lung is reopening in January! It's closed for six months!

SFoodie spoke today to principal environmental health inspector Lisa O'Malley of the San Francisco Department of Health, who confirmed that it will be six months before Hing Lung can open -- at minimum. 

"On a December 5 routine inspection," she told SFoodie, "the inspector found several recurring violations, including a severe cockroach and rat infestation and unsafe food handling facilities."  The department had cited the owners so many times for these violations that, on December 14, it took the rare step of revoking the 30-year-old restaurant's permit to operate. 

Owners Chuck and Mei Gong have six months before they can reapply for a permit, O'Malley says. She met with Mr. Gong yesterday on site to go through all the structural and operational issues he must address in that time. "If they do reopen, we do want them to succeed," she says, "but ultimately, it comes down to the responsibility of the owners and whether they're able to handle it." If the owner decides to sell the business, she adds, a new owner will have to bring the place up to code before a permit to operate will be reissued. 

So, SFoodie's favorite rice porridge is unavailable until the spring -- possibly for good. The consolation: not having to worry about rats falling from the ceiling while we eat. We can live with that.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodieand like us on Facebook.
Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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