Above: Wild Pepper’s General Tso’s Chicken; image from Facebook
Wild Pepper owner and manager, See Louie, has honored San Fran’s Chinese food cravings for the last 12 years. Originally from Hong Kong, China, See emigrated to the US with his family and landed in San Francisco in 1979. See’s background in restaurants and retail launched him into the success that is Wild Pepper.
The first restaurant See worked in was none other than the famed Harris’ Restaurant. Having been a retail manager for 7 years after that job, See was equipped to return to the restaurant business as an owner. “I wasn’t happy with what I was doing…” See says, “I quit my job to earn my career for the rest of my life.” Wild Pepper proves See’s not only found a forever-career but a soul-driven mission.
What’s a Wild Pepper?
See laughs, “Pepper mixed with spicy. Very spicy’s called wild.” It’s true. Eating spicy food’s an adventure for the palate; you never know where or how it’s going to land. At times it lingers on the tongue and other times it’s a fond fire in the belly.
See describes the different ways pepper’s used in the food. “We use wild pepper in the spicy fried rice…red chili pepper, jalapeño, black pepper, white pepper, whole or filet.” Beyond great tasting food, Wild Pepper’s food is an experience—it encourages people to notice how the pepper makes the dish.
Next time you eat Wild Pepper, ask yourself, where’s the pepper? Where’s the wild?
Why Wild Pepper?
Grubhub deemed Wild Pepper’s General Tso’s Chicken the best in town back in 2014. See mentions that a whopping “75% of people order General Tso’s Chicken.” Talk about a signature dish!
Additionally, in 2018, Wild Pepper was named Best Chinese Cuisine in SF Weekly. Wild Pepper’s been awarded years of 5-star customer service recognition and counting. Its success is ever-growing.
In addition to the infamous General Tso’s Chicken, See describes Wild Pepper’s vegetarian options and family-friendly menu. It’s not uncommon to hear requests for the Wild Pepper Chicken sans the chicken. Usually, protein makes the meal. You know a restaurant’s special when vegetarians order meat dishes – its flavors entice everyone.
Wild Pepper’s Work Ethic
See reflects on the strain COVID-19’s put on the restaurant and the community. “Wow, it’s so difficult. We’re struggling, it’s scary.” See continues, “We do the best we can for protection. We’re still open every day except Tuesday. 11 hours a day for pick-up and delivery…to help the neighborhood or people who need.” The Wild Pepper regulars are grateful for the familiarity of this food during these wild times.
Business has taken a hit from the pandemic but it fuels See to seek more success. 3 or 4 employees of a small 9 person team have been laid off and the remaining staff’s working hard. Beyond making ends meet, Wild Pepper’s focused on helping the community.
Wild Pepper in Wild Times
Though Wild Pepper’s been around more than a decade, See’s as driven as ever. “I want people—the neighborhood—to know this place. To give us a chance and support.” The pandemic’s only increased See’s commitment to Chinese cuisine and those it serves.
Besides the food, See knows what makes Wild Pepper different is the people—both its staff and customers. Without fail, See describes the Wild Pepper community as, “friendly, welcoming, nice, bright, and generous.” As a result, See knows the customers trust him and the food brings connection.
12 years ago, See knew, “I’m the kind of person to run a business, so I knew I could make it.” It’s this stamina and certainty that has Wild Pepper making it still.
Having wild in the restaurant name comes with great promise—not only for the food—but for its foundation. Head to Wild Pepper to embrace the wildness of these times. Their food reminds people that with community support and businesses like these, we’re going to be okay.