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Food & Drink

The noodles from this 91-year-old San Francisco factory are the secret of many top chefs

Shui Mein Noodles are distributed at Mon Sing Noodle Co.’s 91st Anniversary celebration in Chinatown. | Source: Juliana Yamada for The Standard

You’ve probably eaten noodles from the Mon Sing Noodle Company in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood without even realizing it.

“We actually eat these noodles all the time, but we never think about where they come from,” said Supervisor Aaron Peskin Friday at a Chinatown event kicking off the company's anniversary. A crowd of tourists, locals and community leaders gathered at 41 Ross Alley to officially kick off the company’s multipart anniversary, a celebration that included fireworks, a performance by lion dancers—and lots of artisanal noodles.

Mon Sing has supplied award-winning restaurants, mom-and-pop shops and home chefs across the Bay Area for decades for the better part of a century.

But don’t try asking co-owner Ginger Kong for more specifics.

“We don’t advertise what restaurants we supply,” Kong said. “We want the focus to be on the chefs preparing the noodles to make them delicious—and the customers enjoying them.” 

Kong’s humility doesn’t stop there. In a series of events honoring the company’s 91st anniversary, the fourth-generation business owner wants to share the spotlight with other local small businesses.

“We couldn’t have survived in San Francisco for 91 years without our community,” Kong said. “So we don’t want to showcase just ourselves.”

Yau Kung Moon Lion Dancer performs at Mon Sing Noodle Co.’s 91st Anniversary celebration in Chinatown. | Source: Juliana Yamada for The Standard

The first pop-up event, happening Friday and Saturday, celebrating the factory’s more-than-nine-decade existence is in Chinatown’s Ross Alley, not far from where the noodles were first made when the factory opened in Beckett Alley more than nine decades ago. The date of the first day of the event is intentional: 23-9-1 is the year of the factory’s founding, 1932, backward.

The second in the series of three pop-ups takes part in collaboration with the Bayview Farmers Market on Sept. 7. Attendees will have the opportunity to taste the company’s signature noodles prepared with fresh produce from the market. The celebration will culminate with an event during the Autumn Moon Festival in the Richmond District on Sept. 9.

Kong, for her part, measures success not in numbers or the names of fancy restaurant clients, but in her scores of repeat customers. 

“We have generations of people buying our noodles,” Kong said. The factory also creates specialty noodles for chefs when they are looking for something they can’t source. 

Supervisor Aaron Peskin presents the Kong family with a certificate of honor at Mon Sing Noodle Co.’s 91st Anniversary celebration in Chinatown. | Source: Juliana Yamada for The Standard

The factory even has its own signature noodle—the Shui Mein—which is a registered trademark and will be available for sampling at the pop-ups. Shui Mein, a homestyle noodle, has been around as long as the factory has. The business also crafts wonton wrappers, Middle Eastern pastas and Italian pastas.

The vintage machinery the company uses requires adjustment from a master noodle maker to control for thickness, a skill that takes years to master, according to the company’s application for the San Francisco Legacy Business Registry

Owner Connie Kong, mother of Ginger, expanded the company in 1994 when she purchased the Tin Wah Noodle Company. In 2019, San Francisco named the noodle factory a legacy business.

The Kong family believes that noodles—like people—have their own personalities: thin or thick, crisp or tough, soft or elastic.

The factory opened in 1932 on Beckett Alley in Chinatown, later moving to Pacific Avenue in the 1980s. Parking was difficult there, and Kong’s father often had to lug 15-pound bags of flour across multiple blocks.

“My dad went to work in the morning when it was still dark,” Kong said. “And people would already be lining up, waiting for a batch of fresh noodles.”

Mon Sing Noodle Company 91st Anniversary Celebration 

🗓️ Sept. 2, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. | Sept. 7, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. | Sept. 9, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  
📍 41 Ross Alley, 1550 Evans Ave., Clement Street between Seventh and 10th avenues 
🔗 Visit website

Julie Zigoris can be reached at jzigoris@sfstandard.com