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This Recently Closed Chinese Restaurant Favorite Is Back Thanks to a New Generation of Owners

The next generation of the Ko family has brought back Gourmet Carousel

Rebecca Calderon / RTCphotos
Dianne de Guzman is a deputy editor at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, upcoming openings, and pop-ups.

In July 2022, the longtime owners of Lower Pac Heights favorite Gourmet Carousel retired and sold the business. Just a few short months later, however, they’re back and reopening the restaurant. On Monday, April 10th, the family behind the Chinese restaurant began serving its signature Cantonese and Mandarin dishes again, as first reported by SFGATE.

Rebecca Calderon / RTCphotos

Gourmet Carousel has been a neighborhood staple at the corner of Franklin and Pine streets under original owners BoHing Ko and his wife Sai Ko who ran the restaurant for 38 years before their brief time away from the business last year. BoHing Ko worked as a chef for most of Gourmet Carousel’s existence, before handing over the reins — and the recipes — to another chef, Peter Yu, in more recent years.

Siblings Chew Ko, Pei Yok Ko, and Yin Ko reunited to resurrect their parents’ restaurant, bringing back former chef Yu out of retirement to restore Gourmet Carousel’s classics. “Two years ago, my mom passed away so everybody wanted to retire — we were so sad,” Yin Ko says. “Now we’ve come back.”

During its first run under the Ko family, the restaurant both endured a fire that shuttered it for a number of months and earned a glowing two-and-a-half star review from former San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer back in 1994. Bauer praised the inexpensive prix fixe family menu, a crab dish cooked in a clay pot with glass noodles, and the restaurant’s plump pot stickers among other dishes. Over the phone, Yin Ko confirmed that the full Gourmet Carousel menu is back, with favorites such as those aforementioned pot stickers and the deluxe won ton soup, another customer standby. The family, meanwhile, made a few updates to the interior of the restaurant but are ready to welcome customers new and old to their corner spot in Lower Pac Heights.

Rebecca Calderon / RTCphotos

Gourmet Carousel (1559 Franklin Street) is now open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.