Springfield Style Cashew Chicken


David Wing Yin Leong is responsible for creating a favorite local dish affectionately referred to as “Springfield-style cashew chicken.” This dish features deep-fried chicken covered in a brown slurry of soy and oyster sauce, covered with green onions and halved cashews. Leong understood Americans’ fondness of fried foods and found a way to integrate the quality in his Cantonese cuisine.

David Leong arrived in the United States from Hong Kong in 1940, shortly after the invasion of his home by the Japanese Imperial Army. He worked briefly in New Orleans before enlisting in the U.S. military in 1942. David honorably served during World War II, seeing action during the storming of Normandy Beach on D-Day. He was granted American citizenship after his service was completed. He eventually moved to Springfield, Missouri, after working at many restaurants across the country. Upon arriving in Springfield, he and his brother Gee were hired by Bill Grove of Grove Supper Club to help expand the Supper Club’s menu.

After David began to gain notoriety, he opened his own restaurant, Leong’s Tea House, in 1963. His restaurant not only offered Springfield style cashew chicken, but also offered the Ozarks authentic Chinese dishes and an appreciation for Asian cuisine. Later, he opened Leong’s Asian Diner with his son Wing Yee in 2010. He continued to work there until his death in 2020 at the age of 99. Due to the influence of cashew chicken on Springfield’s travel and tourism industry, David received the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau Pinnacle Award in 2008.

Object Details

Categories: Arts & Culture, Business & Economy

Date: 1983

Subject: Restaurants; Chinese food

Contributing Institution: Springfield News Leader

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County: Greene

Region: Southwest

Type: Photograph

Latitude: 37.137930

Longitude: -93.314205

Photographer: Jim Mayfield