Neighborhood Eats: Restaurant serving up classic diner dishes influenced by Chinatown

CHINATOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- Before the COVID-19 pandemic, you'd be hard-pressed to find a seat at the buzzing Golden Diner.

It's a restaurant where chefs danced in the narrow kitchen and customers enjoyed Sam Yoo's take on diner food.

"We specialize in classic diner food but drawing from the influence of our neighborhood and my background," Yoo said.

For Yoo, that means egg sandwiches served on a scallion milk bun, a vegan Italian hero, the so-called "meat" made from tofu skin, the katsu club sandwich with a touch of "bulldog" sauce, and green tea coffee cake.

A year into business and Yoo was on a high.

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"Super blessed, very grateful. I'm keeping my head down, working and trying to do great things," Yoo said. "Pushing through, pivoting, and making it work."

And he's still trying to do that now in spite of the coronavirus pandemic by making changes like adding outdoor tables and expanding the menu.

And it helps that he's got loyal customers who are craving his comfort food.

"When the pandemic hit I said I had to get down here and keep supporting because this place embodies what a modern restaurant can do," a customer said.

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"The fact that we're able to stay open and have customers, I'm grateful for every day and hopefully we're going to be one of the survivors," Yoo said.

Of course, there's nothing like sitting at the counter at a diner, and Yoo can't wait to get customers back inside, but in the meantime, he's serving up breakfast, lunch, and dinner all day, every day.

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