Springfield restaurateur leaves his legacy

Lee Ann Murphy
Community Editor
David Leong, who created the now famous Springfield style Cashew Chicken, has died just short of his 100th birthday.

Less than a month short of his 100th birthday, Springfield restauranteur David Leong has died, leaving his legacy of Springfield-style Cashew Chicken. Leong first moved to southwest Missouri in the 1950's where he first worked as a chef at a local restaurant. By 1963, the year he devised his now famous Cashew Chicken recipe, Leong had opened Leong's Teahouse. In those years, Asian cuisine was largely unknown in Springfield but Leong came up with a dish that combine the local flavor of deep fried chicken with Cantonese seasonings and the signature brown gravy topped with cashews and chopped green onion.. Today, Leong's creation is the best known dish to come from Springfield, MO and is found throughout the United States and even the world.

Leong was a native of China who left for the United States after Pearl Harbor. In 1942, after becoming a citizen, he joined the U.S. Army where he became a cook. He served as part of the 4th Wing that stormed Omaha Beach.

Area Congressman Billy Long honored Leong in recent years with war medals that Leong had been awarded but had not received.

Leong's Tea House remained open until 1997 - today Leong's Asian Diner still serves Springfield.

Leong is survived by four sons, two daughters and several grandchildren. Leong died on Monday.