The inventor of Springfield-style cashew chicken has passed away at 99

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“He will be 99 this summer and he still comes in to work every day.” / Photo of David Leong taken in April 2019, courtesy of Leong’s Asian Diner’s Facebook page

The Chinese chef behind Springfield’s acclaimed cashew chicken passed away on Monday night, according to a post on Leong’s Asian Diner’s Facebook page.

The Springfield News-Leader reports that Chinese-born immigrant Wing Yin “David” Leong opened up Leong’s Tea House in 1963, where he developed a cashew chicken recipe to appeal to the tastes of Southeastern Missourians.

The Springfield-style chicken—which we wrote about in our June issue—isn’t like the Thai takeout staple: It starts with nuggety chunks of batter-fried chicken glazed with a sweet and spicy sauce made with chicken stock, soy sauce and oyster sauce and crushed cashews and chopped scallions are tossed on top.

Early this morning, just one month shy of his 100th birthday, our beloved owner passed away. David loved coming to the…

Posted by Leong's Asian Diner on Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The cashew chicken recipe quickly made its way around town and cashew chicken dishes on Springfield restaurant menus became commonplace—the reason being that Leong was happy to give his recipe to anyone who asked for it (Leong’s sauce even sells by the jar).

Leong closed Tea House in 1997 after his wife passed. 13 years later, he and his son, Wing Yee, opened Leong’s Asian Diner in 2010 on the south side of town, which Wing Yee still operates today.

Leong would have turned 100 on August 18.

Categories: Food News, News