Hop Sing Palace and Folsom’s Historical District go together like a horse and carriage. The Chinese restaurant opened at 805 Sutter S. in 1957, one year after Folsom Dam was completed. It is now the oldest restaurant in Folsom.
The business was called Ken’s Hop Sing Palace. Ken, whose last name could be written in English as Joeng, named his new business Hop Sing after the character of the Chinese cook in the popular television show during the 1950s and ’60s, “Bonanza.”
Today the restaurant’s façade in the historical building on the recently renovated Sutter Street invites people into a classic Chinese restaurant. Entering the arch inside is entering into a different world. One guest described the interior as reminding her of an updated 1950s movie set, with white booths, and pink and black décor in the main area. Black tables and chairs provide seating in the adjacent rooms. The restaurant can seat 120-130 people in large or small groups.
Bill Lam bought the restaurant from his friend. They had worked together before. Lam, who came from Hong Kong, said he had worked in restaurants for many years and knew the business. He said he bought the restaurant simply to provide for his family, not to make a fortune.
Seven or eight family members are employed at Hop Sing. Lana Lam came from south China in 1993. She is usually the hostess, but said she can and does do any job that is required.
The regular menu is extensive, with more than 100 dishes of various appetizers, soups, eggs, beef, chicken, pork, vegetables, noodles, seafood, duck and rice. Combination plates, family-style Cantonese dinners for two, and deluxe dinners for four or more are standard. Hamburgers and fried chicken are on the American menu.
Bill Lam said he changes the special items monthly. Soups (choice of 12) and spicy food are popular now. Lana Lam said young people go for the Honey Walnut Prawns and Sesame Chicken. In the summertime, the specials will feature seafood, salads and chow mein.
Bill Lam’s intention is to serve good food at reasonable prices. He said most of his customers are from local families and businesses. “Folsom City employees and Folsom police come here often,” he said. The restaurant also does a brisk takeout business.
Lam said he feels lucky to be in business on Sutter Street. “I appreciate the opportunity.
The merchants here are good people. Folsom is a good community. I wouldn’t be any place else.”
Hop Sing Palace is open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday-Sunday. Lunch is served 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.
For more information, call 916-985-7309, or visit hopsingpalace.com.