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A downtown favorite returns anew 

Mee Heng Low has noodles, and spice, and everything's nice

click to enlarge FRESH FACE :  A familiar sign beckons patrons to enjoy exhilarating new Chinese fare. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • FRESH FACE : A familiar sign beckons patrons to enjoy exhilarating new Chinese fare.
San Luis Obispo residents are likely familiar with Mee Heng Low, the classic Chinese restaurant on Palm Street, but may be unaware the business is under new ownership and is now a Chinese noodle house.


Mee Heng Low has been a staple of San Luis Obispo’s historic Chinatown since 1958. According to co-owner and chef Paul Kwong, the two-story building served as both restaurant and home for the original owners, who lived upstairs. In the early 1970s, the building was remodeled to create a dining area upstairs. 


Senh and Kim Huynhs owned and operated the place for 20 years until retiring last August. Their shop specialized in chop suey. Kwong and his wife, Dianne, leased the building from the Huynhs and opened their noodle house under the same name last month.


Kwong has had an extensive career in the food industry. He owned and operated the Rhythm Cafe on Broad Street 20 years ago, in the spot where Creekside Brewery currently resides. Kwong is also the executive chef at Embassy Suites, a position he has held for 10 years. The idea of opening up a noodle house, however, was inspired by a noodle stand that the Kwong family operated at Farmers Market. A perfect opportunity for expansion came when Mee Heng Low became available for lease. Kwong had had an interest in the location for years.


“We wanted to just update it a little bit,” Kwong said. “We wanted to kind of keep the Chinese accent to it by doing the noodle house, going more with Chinese noodle vegetable types. Pretty much right now, my wife, my oldest son, my youngest son, and myself run the place. It’s a family business.”


The menu includes such noodle dishes as chop suey, chow mein, low mein, and soup. Customers fill out a menu, marking which dish, meat, and sauce they want. Chicken, red pork, shrimp, beef, and tofu can be mixed and matched with any dish. Any or all such savory sauces as ginger soy, peanut chili, sweet plum, and black bean add intense flavors to the dishes at the customer’s choice. Kwong established his menu with quality ingredients in mind.


“It’s all good,” Kwong said. “A lot of Chinese restaurants pre-blanch their vegetables. We don’t. So you will find that our vegetables are fresher than most. We try to buy local. The noodle soup is great; we make our own broth. We do not add MSG to anything.”


The downstairs area has undergone some remodeling, and in three to four months the upstairs dining area will be ready. Beer and wine will soon be available.


Kwong plans to expand his menu once the upstairs is complete. He is considering offering dim sum on weekends. Preparation of dim sum is labor intensive, but Kwong noted that it isn’t served at any other restaurants in town.


Mee Heng Low is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. For more information or to place an order, call 594-1500.


Fast facts


The Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party will convene a state summit on Saturday, Aug. 15 through Sunday, Aug.16 on the Cal Poly campus. Caucus members and other registered Democrats statewide are invited to participate in the free event. The summit will kick off at 10 a.m. in Phillips Hall. Breakouts on health care, the state budget, the wars, and other issues will follow. On Sunday, the new controller of the California Democratic Party, Hilary Crosby, will speak. On Saturday at 7 p.m. a program “Crisis and Opportunity: Healthcare not Warfare” at the Ludwick Community Center at 648 Santa Rosa St. in SLO will feature three presentations, beginning with author Norman Solomon, who will lead a strategic discussion. Rose Roach will detail how a single-payer system would work. Marcie Winograd, challenger of Jane Harmon for the 36th Congressional district seat, will address election strategies. Call 545-7916 and see for more information. …


Coalesce Bookstore will host a sustainable living panel on Friday, Aug. 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. at 845 Main St., Morro Bay. The panel will include green experts Trish Riley, Christine Heninrichs, Amy Freeman, and a representative from Cal Poly’s Organic Farm, who will discuss the greening of businesses, raising a small flock of poultry, certifying sustainable vineyards and wineries, and local farm systems and resources. For more information call 772-2880.


Interns Chris Jagger and Marin Kautz wrote Strokes&Plugs this issue. Send your business and nonprofit news to

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