A man who has eaten at more than 6,150 Chinese restaurants will add Springfield-Style Cashew Chicken to his list after he arrives in Springfield, Mo., Aug. 24.
David R. Chan, 64, was invited to Springfield after his passion for Chinese cuisine was chronicled in June in “Squid Ink,” a blog published by “LA Weekly” in Los Angeles. The story that noted Chan wants to try Springfield-Style Cashew Chicken was widely circulated by media around the globe so the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau asked Chan to visit.
“We hope Mr. Chan’s trip will generate more publicity for Springfield and its signature dish,” said Susan Wade, public relations manager for the CVB, a nonprofit marketing agency generating economic impact by promoting travel and tourism in Springfield. “Springfield-Style Cashew Chicken celebrates its 50th anniversary next year and this will be an early beginning to the celebration.”
Springfield-Style Cashew Chicken originated when David Leong opened Leong’s Tea House in 1963. Springfield residents were reluctant to try authentic Chinese dishes so Leong created Springfield-Style Cashew Chicken – fried chicken chunks covered with Chinese oyster sauce, cashews and chopped green onion. It became an immediate hit in Springfield and quickly began appearing on menus across the country.
Though Leong’s Tea House closed in 1997, Springfield-Style Cashew Chicken is available at many restaurants in Springfield, including Leong’s Asian Diner, a restaurant opened by the Leong family in 2010. Leong, 92, is retired but is at the restaurant daily.
Chan, who lives in Los Angeles, arrives in Springfield Aug. 24 and departs Aug. 27. While in Springfield, he will have the opportunity to experience at least three Chinese restaurants. His wish for Springfield-Style Cashew Chicken comes true at 1 p.m. Aug. 25 at Leong’s Asian Diner.
“I have been aware of Springfield Cashew Chicken since at least the 1980s,” Chan said. “It is one of a handful of unique Chinese-American dishes that have developed in localized areas of the United States. On numerous occasions in the past I have looked to see if I could stretch my travel itinerary to include Springfield and its cashew chicken, but it just hasn't worked out. I am grateful to the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau to enable me to fulfill my longtime goal.”