Mr. Leong immigrated to the United States in 1940 from Guangdong, China. He became a naturalized citizen, then served his adopted country during World War II. (During the Normandy invasion, he was in the fourth wave of troops to hit Omaha Beach.) After the war, he bounced from restaurant to restaurant, from Philadelphia to New Orleans to Pensacola, Fla.
At Pirate’s Cove, a Pensacola restaurant where he honed a reputation for broiled scallops and flounder braised in sweet and sour sauce, Mr. Leong met a Springfield neurosurgeon, John L. K. Tsang, who was also a native of China. In 1955, Dr. Tsang lured David Leong and his brother, Gee Leong, to Springfield to open the region’s first Chinese restaurant, Lotus Garden.
A year later the brothers were cooking at the Grove, a supper club famous for T-bones and highballs. They dished up sweet and sour pork and moo goo gai pan. And, inspired by similar Chinese dishes, David Leong experimented with the dish that would become cashew chicken.
Wing Wah Leong
Wing Wah grew up working at Leong’s Tea House, where he quickly learned what it takes to make a restaurant successful. He has worked in the food and beverage industry for much of his life. His expertise in fine dining has made the opening of Leong’s Asian Diner possible. He is the General Manager of Leong’s Asian Diner.
Wing Yee Leong
Executive Chef Wing Leong is a native born Springfieldian, born the middle son of Shau Ngor and David Leong, who, in 1963, created "Springfield Style Cashew Chicken." This wildly popular dish started Wing on his journey into the world of cuisine. He didn't realize at the time that the seeds of the family restaurant experience would germinate into a professional career in food preparation, presentation, and hospitality.
In 1981, Wing set out to California to study at the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara with an aim towards a career as a Professional Photographer. But the then 25-year-old Wing gravitated back to food by working at world class establishments like the Harbor Restaurant, Andria, and Cross Roads American Grille. He also worked alongside world class chefs such as Dennis Bybee and Patrick Waterbury. Wing rubbed elbows with and learned from Julia Child, a fellow member of the Santa Barbara chapter of the American Culinary Federation. In addition, Wing was honored to cook for a host of other celebrities. The experience changed his attitude and outlook as Wing worked his way up from Line Cook to Executive Chef.
Wing's infectious passion for food has extended to avid local foodies who follow him to the spots where he has been a chef since his return to Springfield in 1995: Leong's Tea House, Cartoons, Epicurean, Flame, Mikayla's, Fire and Ice, and Room 4. Wing's cooking philosophy is to use the finest ingredients and cook as if every diner is a personal guest in his home. Wing is always involving himself with events benefiting numerous charities in the Ozarks. He believes that when he gives back to the community it is a like a culinary “Pay it Forward”! Wing is the secretary of the Springfield/Branson American Culinary Federation chapter, and is on the Advisory Board at Ozarks Technical College.
"I look at my restaurants like my home, since I spend so much time in them. So my feelings toward those who come to dine at my restaurant are these: You are my special guest, and I want to treat you with honor and for you to be well satisfied."
Ling began his restaurant career at Leong’s Tea House. Working in the kitchen with his father and brothers, they were an elite team. Ling served as the restaurant’s General Manager for several years. Ling has worked in several different aspects of the food and restaurant industry ever since the close of Leong’s Tea House. His expertise and experience has made the opening of Leong’s Asian Diner possible.