A couple of weekends ago when we took family friend, Emily, to visit mom and dad, we went to the new Leong’s Teahouse.
This dish made of deep-fried chicken, brown oyster sauce, green onions and cashew nuts was created by Mr. Leong as a way to appeal to local tastes. The popularity of fried chicken meets chinese culture recipe helped put chinese restaurants on almost every busy corner of the city. There are so many “cashew chicken” restaurants in Springfield that you can get a lunch special for under $4.00 (with crab rangoon included). As most Springfieldian’s are (I’m sure Brad Pitt included), I was shocked to find that Springfield style wasn’t widely available outside of southern Missouri. If it was on the menu, there were often “additions” or “subtractions” that just didn’t make it Springfield style. The first time I ordered Cashew Chicken in Kansas City I was floured that it wasn’t deep fried. I just had no idea there was any other way to eat it! A family fight over the original recipe closed the first Leong’s. Now due to Springfield Style fate, a son of the originator has officially opened a new Leong’s. This being Emily’s first trip to the area, we had to go.
Honestly, most of the meal was spent discussing how the new Leong’s just wasn’t as good as Hong Kong Inn. I know, you would think we would be totally blown away by the originator, but the years have changed our taste buds and we prefer the Springfield style we grown to love in Leong’s absence. We were actually more of a Jade East family when I was little because they were close to our house, but Hong Kong Inn reigned supreme during my middle school/high school/ college years, and let’s face it, they’re still on my speed dial.
I’m glad we got to taste the real deal once again and share local cuisine with a new friend, but alas, all we can say is , Thank You Mr. Leong for creating this deep-fried delicacy and inspiring others to do so too.