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Cashew Chicken in Springfield, Missouri

  • j

Just got off the phone with a talkative MCI operator who recommended a weird Chinese/Midwestern hybrid dish called "cashew chicken" you find in the environs of Springfield Missouri.

It's deep fried nuggets of rather American-style fried chicken, served with cashews. Different from the Chinese restaurant saucy version we all know and mostly loathe, and I think it's served there in all sorts of eateries...not just Chinese.

Anybody know about this?

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  1. Springfield style Cashew Chicken is defintely unique. It generally is chunks of fried chicken and cashews and no veggies with a brown sauce that resembles gravy more than anything Chinese. I know it sounds strange and I was a little reluctant to try it at forst but it really is good and I wish I could have some for lunch today. It is hard to find outside the Springfield area, maybe because any self-respecting Chinese restaurant would resist this Americanized dish. As a result, I know a lot of travelers and truckers who go out of their way to stop at Springfield for this dish every chance they get.

    66 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      I love this style of cashew chicken!! I used to get it at a couple of Chinese resturants in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I have since moved out of state, and I can't find it any where here:( I came across this board, by accident searching for a recipe for it. Does anyone have a somewhat similar recipe they can share?

      1. re: thewaterchic

        I grew up in Springfield, Missouri and was good friends with one of the Leong sons. Wing Wah and I went to High School (Kickapoo HS) together. His father owned Leong's Tea House where this style of cashew chicken was invented. I've since heard that Mr. Leong has retired, and I'm not sure if the restaurant is still there. I tried and tried to get my friend Wing Wah to give me the recipe for Cashew Chicken, but he always seemed to change the subject - guess it was a family secret. Well, today I came across this recipe on the Internet. Sounds exactly like Leong's Cashew Chicken from Springfield. Enjoy!

        Link: http://chickenrecipe.com/AZ/Springfie...

        1. re: Tammy

          I was born in Springfield and have lived all over the country. I can tell you that there is nothing like cashew chicken from Leong's Tea House or Gee's East Wind. There was a Gee's Jade Wind in Kansas City for a long time, but it closed after a family tragedy. As far as I know, these are the only three restaurants that were run by actual members of the Leong family. Unfortunately, I believe them to all be closed. I have tried many imitations, but I fear that I will never taste the original again. I have diverted my travels more times than I can remember to pass by one of these restaurants, I have even searched all of the phone books in the midwest for members of the Leong family. I was prepared to beg for them to sell me the recipe. I have downloaded your recipe and hope I can make something of it. It really is too bad that the Leong's have kept this to themselves. I believe it to worth a lot of money. Thanks for the link.

          1. re: Tim Dowdle
            Robert Mossack

            Living near the Joplin, Missouri area, I can definatly say that there are places to get Springfield style Cashew Chicken in the area. But I guess being relitvly close to Springfield, it should be a surprise. I have a couple of regular stops locally to get my Cashew Chicken fix, and when in Springfield, We usually make a point to stop at BamBoo Inn, located on South Glenstone. And really, I worked at a chinese resturunt for quite a while, and it's really not that hard to make. E-mail me, and i'll give you the recipie :)

            Robert Mossack

            1. re: Robert Mossack
              Carrie Jones

              I grew up in Springfield, Mo. My husband and I have since moved to Florida. I am now 3 months pregnant and all I can think about is Springfield Cashew chicken!!!!! Darn those cravings.........
              Does anyone know the recipe for cashew chicken from Hong Kong Inn? (that was my favorite).

              Thanks for this recipe. I am definantly going to try this one out!

              1. re: Carrie Jones

                Greetings from a Detroiter, who married a Republican ... one from Republic, MO, 10 miles from Springfield. Curses, that Springfield Cashew Chicken! It is nothing like most Cashew Chicken around the US, as my wife will even admit. From Dallas to Detroit, no one has Cashew Chicken like Springfield.

                At our wedding rehearsal dinner, held at a Chinese restaurant in Michigan, Cashew Chicken was served, and it was proclaimed YUCKY by our kids. I now buy chicken fried rice for the wife, and I will order almost anything off the menu.

                Funny, in Springfield, Chinese food IS CASHEW CHICKEN. Never mind Broccoli Beef, or Szechuan dishes, or noodle dishes. I wanted to try the Thai there, but ran out of time.

                How about Mexican Villa? Ever have chips and salsa in Springfield .... Sorry, I got started :)


                1. re: Kevin

                  I grew up in the Seattle area, but attended college at School of the Ozarks near Branson, Missouri. Growing up here on the Pacific Rim I have always been surrounded by good, authentic Asian foods (all sorts, not just Chinese). I will have to admit, Springfield Style Cashew Chicken is NOT true Chinese, or even good Chinese, but I do enjoy it. When made correctly it is a very tasty dish. As earlier posts have stated it was an attempt at offering a dish with Chinese tastes that would suit the palates of Midwesterners, in that respect, they succeeded. In many ways it is an early 'fusion' dish, sort of an east meets west. Of course in today's society if the recipe was marketed as 'fusion' the Springfield style Cashew Chicken would be the most expensive item on the menu.

                  1. re: Diana

                    I grew up in Springfield and have a recipe that Master Wangs used. You soak the chicken over night in sugar and milk. When I get a craving for the real stuff I make it and my hubby who also is from Springfield loves it. I was given the reciepe because my hubby is military and we were stationed in Hawaii which I will agree outside of Missouri when the menu says cashew chicken it isn't the same. As a matter of fact that is what I am making for dinner tonight. If anyone wants the recipe let me know.

                    1. re: Natalie

                      Sams sells a "somewhat" version of Springfield Cashew chicken in the freezer section. My grandparents live in Springfield and Master Wongs is the first place we go when we visit! You need to season the sauce a little bit and add more cashews but it's close to home for a Missouri girl in Ohio!

                      Visit Sno White Cleaners on Kearney and say Hi to my Grampa Carpenter!

                      1. re: Stephanie

                        I live near Springfield and have eaten at Leong's Tea Room and Gee's East Wind which are both closed. But there are places that have really good cashew chicken. My all time favorite is Bamboo Gardens in Carthage, MO. In Springfield, MO, Jade Dynasty on Battlefield has really good cashew chicken. The Oriental House in Neosho, Mo. has good cashew chicken.

                        1. re: Stephanie

                          Hi stephanie...my name is Kim Koinzan from WA. U had mentioned that your grandpa worked @ Sno White Cleaners.....would his first name be Merle or Merlin and married to Norma? If so they are my Aunt and Uncle. I just got back from visiting them....my email is ooabrcrmbiegrloo@aol.com if so.

                          1. re: Stephanie

                            Hi stephanie...my name is Kim Koinzan from WA. U had mentioned that your grandpa worked @ Sno White Cleaners.....would his first name be Merle or Merlin and married to Norma? If so they are my Aunt and Uncle. I just got back from visiting them....my email is ooabrcrmbiegrloo@aol.com if so.

                            1. re: justinswifey

                              Springfield Cashew Chicken...reuniting the world, one family at a time!

                          2. re: Natalie

                            lived in springfield for 12 years. dying for a good dinner of cashew chicken (like Gee's East Wind, Master Wang's, Leong's, etc.)
                            Can you help?

                            1. re: Natalie
                              Maria Callaghan Good

                              Moved to Colorado from Kansas City but my husband lived in Springfield. We don't dare order Cashew Chicken here for fear of knowing that it will not compare at all to Springfield Cashew Chicken. Would love to have the recipe... I was craving it all thru my pregnancy and now he's here 3 weeks later and I'm still craving the cashew chicken. Thanks. Maria

                              1. re: Natalie

                                not sure if you still receive email, but i'm looking for the springfield, mo recipe version of cashew chicken. went to college there, my favorite dish by far and now that i'm pregnant, i'm definitely craving it! if you can help me, please send the recipe. thanks so much!

                            2. re: Kevin

                              I live in springfield, and I am having cashew chicken here in about 30 minutes. It was either that or Mexican Villa which I think is funny. :p

                              Also I have a fantastic cashew chicken recipe.

                              1. re: mommywood

                                Would you share your cashew chicken recipe? I went to HS and college in springfield, mo. Since moving from there I havent been able to find anything even close to the chinese chef cashew chicken I had as a kid. Thanks so much.

                          3. re: Robert Mossack


                            1. re: DARRELL

                              what's the deal with springfield cashew chicken? It's horrible! It's chicken nuggets, with a lame sauce and a couple of cashews on it. I'm from San Diego, where we are much diverse than Mo and have way better cashew chicken. I think it's hard to find any authentic ethnic food in Mo.

                              1. re: tab823

                                Right. I was born in LA., but go to college in MO. Once in awhile it's ok, ONLY because it's cheap. Just deep fried chicken in gravy, can you say "double-dose of fat"? What's up with the cashews? It really adds nothing to it. Some around here offer variations, Generals chicken (hot sauce), sesame chicken (sesame sauce), or one with a Chinese name (I can't remember) but it has veggies too (bean sprouts, corn, etc) and general chicken sauce. It's the only good one of the deep-fried chickens. Too bad they want $6 for it when they want $3 for the cashew junk.

                                1. re: tab823

                                  Please...Tell me, why do restaurants in N.Y.C., Miami, and L.A. have "cashew chicken Springfield-style" on their menus? Geeps, you have a recycled K.C. coach for your football team and you're more diverse? The problem is, everybody has cashew chicken here, and some isn't done well. Get with the program, Cali-boy... the sun sets out there, but it appears here 2 hours earlier.

                                  1. re: John

                                    Springfield Style cashew chicken orginated in Springfield, MO. It is different than other cashew chicken in that the chicken is breaded and deep fried and then covered with a special sauce which is made mainly from oyster sauce and chicken broth. It is actually very good, but hard to find outside of southwest missouri. Most springfield styly cashew chicken away from this area is nothing like what you would actually eat in Springfield.

                                    1. re: TowardstheGoal

                                      We moved from Eastern Iowa to Springfield and lived there for 6 years. The first time I ordered cashew chicken, I admit I was taken aback, and thought, what the heck is this??!! Well, the locals were more than happy to tell the story of how their unique version of the Asian dish was born. I was soon hooked, and find my self missing the dish now that we are back in Iowa.I have often tried to describe it to my friends back here, and often the only reply is a confused look and a wrinkled up nose. One must try it to appreciate it. I will try the recipe. I hope it rings nostalgic to my tase buds. Thank you.

                                      1. re: TowardstheGoal

                                        I am glad to see this board is still running. I left KC to find my lost love in Springfield for a weekend. I actually found some decindents of the Leong family running some small places about town and making the good stuff we all enjoy. Two restaurants in KC now offer Springfield Cashew chicken and its pretty good. Not the best, but close enough to cure my withdrawls. If you live in Iowa, come to KC for a weekend and we can fix you up. I have never met a single person who tries the original stuff and turns away. They all love it. I've been to Japan, Hong Kong and many other Asian areas, and what they eat isn't the same. Some of it is still moving. They don't even know what a cashew nut is in my experience. And they don't bread anything. Much less make something out of only breast meat. They use the WHOLE chicken when they cook.

                                        1. re: Tim Dowdle

                                          I live in KC, and would love to know where the 2 restaurants are that server springfield cashew chicken!! I am from springfield and I want my cashew chicken!!

                                          1. re: homesick

                                            David Leong created the original cashew chicken at Leong's Tea House in Springfield, as some of us already know. What you may not know is, his son, Wing Yee Leong is a chef at Cartoons Oyster Bar and Grill in Springfield and serves the original cashew chicken recipe. "Cartoons" is located at 1614 S. Glenstone Ave. Springfield , MO 65804. I've been there a few times, and it's a great place to sit back enjoy a good meal and a cold beer. They have a website I just discovered http://www.cartoonman.com./ Just thought I'd add this info.

                                            1. re: homesick


                                              1. re: pamallee@yahoo.com

                                                Fire Wok in KC (JOCO) still has the Cashew Chicken - it was on their buffet. I love that it's on the buffet b/c a little goes a long way.
                                                The rest of the buffet was "okay."

                                                1. re: pamallee@yahoo.com

                                                  i would love your Leong's Cashew Chicken receipe!!! I grew up in Springfield missouri and miss Leong's and Gee's East Wind's classic cashew chicken

                                        2. re: tab823

                                          I'm from Neosho, MO and I've been from one coast to another in the last seven years or so that I have been serving in the military and I have something to say to Mr. San Diego...I'm in California right now, and this is the WORST Chinese food I have ever had. The worst Sesame Chicken, the worst Mongolian Beef, the worst eggrolls even. And this is an opinion I have made from visiting several restaurants in L.A., some in San Fran and many in the Monterey Bay area. If this is "authentic" Chinese, then I will stick with the fake Chinese I grew up with back home. To each his own. Cashew Chicken is the bomb...and I am not talking about this weak stuff in a watery sauce with a few bamboo shoots and baby corn. They put peas and carrots in the egg drop soup out here!! Gads.

                                          1. re: tab823

                                            I honestly don't see why people have to flame others' posts because they don't like TRUE Springfield cashew chicken (I am a Springfield native). That's like me going to a forum talking about Sauerkraut (which I HATE) and telling them they're all nuts for liking it. Different people have different tastes. Think of it like an accent. Sure, you may not like cashew chicken the way its inventor meant it to be, but I would like to see you try finding 10 people from the midwest that will say it's better out in CA, NY, or anywhere else you can think of.

                                            1. re: Nathan

                                              I am from missouri 20 minutes from Springfield.
                                              I love cashew chicken that is what directed me to this web sight I am making cashew chicken for supper. (Springfield style). I ate some cashew chicken in Idaho one time it was a bunch of celery with little chicken cubes and rice, it was not cashew chicken to me oh and there was a few cashews in it.

                                            2. re: tab823

                                              All I've got to say, is you must've had your eyes closed when you were in MO

                                              1. re: tab823

                                                I have to disagree with the claim that it's hard to find "any authentic ethnic food in Missouri". Just because the Springfield style Cashew Chicken may not be even remotely Chinese, or not to your liking, doesn't mean that there aren't dozens or maybe even hundreds of excellent ethnic restaurants from Mexican to Thai to Ethiopian to Croatian or Bosnian to Syrian or Lebanese to ....well you name it. You have to go and try places. There are some to be found, even outside St. Louis and K.C.

                                                1. re: chazzerking

                                                  Don't forget, this is an ancient thread that has been revived. tab823's comment comes from six years ago. The picture has changed dramatically in that time, although I will agree it was not nearly as bleak in 2002 as tab823 would lead you to believe.

                                                  1. re: alan

                                                    Alan; you're right. I've got to do a better job of looking at post dates before running off at the mouth.

                                            3. re: Robert Mossack

                                              I attended Southwest MO State for a couple of years, and Bamboo Inn was a mainstay of mine. I usually had cashew chicken, crab rangoons, and one of those oversized eggrolls they have.

                                              Does the owner of Bamboo Inn still interrupt your ordering to repeat what you just said?

                                              1. re: Robert Mossack

                                                Please send me the recipe for springfield cashew chicken. We live in Tulsa, OK and my husbands craves it.

                                                He ate it in Chartage, Mo once.

                                                1. re: jabradshaw

                                                  I was born and raised in MO and have never even heard of this "Famous" cashew chicken. I have eaten cashew chicken all over the US but never had this version. I just ran into this website surfing all things MO. I am currently living in South Korea and would love to try this recipe IF I can obtain the ingredients. How can I obtain this recipe? Thanks!

                                                  1. re: MarshaAnn

                                                    I, too, was raised in Missouri, but you really had to grow up very near Springfield to know this dish. I am in central Mo., and years ago, I went on a little senior trip to Springfield, and that's the first time I had ever heard of it or eaten it.

                                                    Just search "springfield style cashew chicken," and you'll find plenty of recipes. It's that famous!

                                                    1. re: k_d

                                                      We used to get it at a little place in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. I don't think the place is there anymore. That was the only Chinese place we ever went to when I was a kid, so I had no idea that I was eating something so unknown to everyone else in the world.

                                                      1. re: revsharkie

                                                        @revsharkie Hey! The Chinese restaurant you were thinking of is called Sezchuan and it is still there. My husband drags me there everything we visit family in Oklahoma.

                                                  2. re: jabradshaw

                                                    I live in Tulsa also & am dying for Canton Inn cashew chicken!
                                                    HELP HELP HELP!!!!!

                                                  3. re: Robert Mossack

                                                    I would love to have the recipe if you don't mind! Thanks, Melissa

                                                    1. re: Robert Mossack

                                                      I moved to St. Louis from Springfield and I greatly miss cashew chicken! Please email me the recipe! Thank you!

                                                      1. re: Robert Mossack

                                                        Would love to have the recipe for Leong's Cashew Chicken. Could you mail it to ravenwood65746@yahoo.com
                                                        Thanks so much

                                                        1. re: Jan65764

                                                          This thread is rapidly approaching ten years old. Surely there must be some kind of Chow record being set here. Isn't it time for a new thread or update on Springfield's iconic dish?

                                                    2. re: Tammy

                                                      I grew up in southeast Mo and went to college in Springfield where I tasted Springfield's Cashew Chicken for the first time. Needless to say, I was hooked!! I think the Silk Road has the best cashew chicken in Springfield. I now live in St. Louis, but visit Springfield frequently and that is one of the first place I go when I visit. My mouth waters just thinking about it....:) Thanks for the recipe...I will give it a shot to subside my cravings til I get back down there....!!

                                                      1. re: Tammy

                                                        I used to live here in Springfield, but moved away to go to a college in northern MO, then transfered back to SMSU. Whoa! Leong's Tea House has given up the ghost. There are zillions of cashew chicken places here, but I don't know what people are excited about. There are plenty of better tasting chinese foods that contain baby corn, bean sprouts, and other goodies. You might as well put gravy on chicken mcnuggets.

                                                        1. re: Tammy
                                                          Kevin W. Tharp

                                                          It is true, Leon's Tea House has closed. I had the pleasure of being one of the last people served the original, in the place it was invented. I don't remember the date, but it was around 1999 and I was there when the local television station was interviewing Mr. Leong on the day he was closing his business.

                                                          For the records, from Mr. Leong's mouth itself, the recipe was invented to try to find a way of adapting traditional chinese cooking to the midwestern pallet. Obviously it worked. The explanation for the number of other locations in the Springfield area that had similar cashew chicken, is that a person would come to work at Leong's, learn the recipe, then go out and open a place of their own. While the taste is well suited to the midwest, there is no way you can call it authentic asian, no more than what Taco Bell serves can be called authentic Mexican.

                                                          When I left Springfield in November 2001 the old Leong's Tea House was a Mexican restaraunt called "Los Portales". Very good and approaching authentic Mexican food, try the Burrito Portales (my favorite).

                                                          Thanks for posting the recipe, I was sitting here in Australia longing for the taste of Springfield, MO when I found this site.

                                                          Kevin W. Tharp

                                                          1. re: Kevin W. Tharp

                                                            OH MY!! THE MYTH CONTINUES!!!

                                                            You poor "YOUNG" innocents perpetuate the myth that this dish originated at Leongs. The TRUTH (though I can't imagine why anyone would care) is that
                                                            the recipe was created and originally served at a long-gone steak house/road house/lounge/restaurant/
                                                            night-club named "The Grove". Old timers (anyone over 50) will recall that The Grove was located on north Glenstone just north of what was then called the Lilly Tulip plant. The location was marked by a large sign in front, which, I believe bore the likeness of a very large "African Native" with a bone tied in his hair!!! In the 50's and 60's it was
                                                            THE HOT SPOT in Springfield. It was in the kitchen of
                                                            this Springfield landmark that a young Chinese cook ideveloped this recipe, long before he carried it across town to West Sunshine Street. The Grove burned mysteriously in the 60's. It was a loss. It is nearly forgotten, but a few fondly remember its contribution to Springfield dining history.

                                                            1. re: Jimmy

                                                              And so what was the name of the young Chinese cook?

                                                              A Mr. Yep, perhaps??

                                                              1. re: Jimmy

                                                                David Leong was the young Chinese cook who invented cashew chicken. He and Gee Leong had a small Chinese restaurant on Glenstone shortly after they were convinced by Dr. John Tsang to move to Springfield. He and Gee Leong were later hired by the owner of the Grove. David and Gee left the Grove restaurant over pay disputes. Despite a heavy increase in business, the Grove owner was not happy that he had to pay the Leong's salaries and thought he could hire any Chinese to replace their cooking abilities. Ray Yep was the one who was hired to replace the Leong's. David and Gee started Leong's Tea House and the business at the Grove rapidly declined.

                                                              2. re: Kevin W. Tharp

                                                                We eat at Los Portales often and I always think about the cashew chicken from there! I eat the chile rellenos there.

                                                                If you come back to the US stop by in Mt Vernon, MO (28 miles west on I-44) and eat cashew at Bamboo Garden on the Business Loop. I posted about it on several posts here. You won't be disappointed in the flavor or freshness! Can order off the menu or eat it off the buffet! (or get take - out special for $4.20 including 2 crab rangoon)

                                                                Yummy! Is what we had for dinner tonight then I found this site! ha

                                                                1. re: Gayle

                                                                  I briefly worked for Ray Yep during a hiatus in my regular career. I learned from him what was in the Cashew Chicken sauce, and how to make eggrolls, Springfield style. (I'm not saying.)

                                                                  I was never very respectful toward Cashew Chicken, as I''m a food snob, but I could go for a big plate of it right now.

                                                                  1. re: Anonimo

                                                                    I know you're in Mexico. Can't you m

                                                              3. re: Tammy

                                                                Actually, it was not he who invented it. It was one of his chefs. A Mr. Yep. Yep, that's right. Mr. Yep.

                                                                1. re: Tammy

                                                                  Leong son cooks the original family recipe at Cartoons each and every Thusday night. It is perfect. I am in St Louis, come to Springfield on business once a month. Thursdays are a must.

                                                                  1. re: Tammy

                                                                    I spent a few years in Springfield, MO when I was in elementary school in the mid 70's. About once a week my mom would bring home take out cashew chicken from the Bamboo Inn. It was the best stuff I had ever tasted. On special occasions we went to Gees or Leongs. I have lived all over the world and have never tasted anything as good as the Springfield style cashew chicken. This Carolina girl is thrilled to have the recipe.

                                                                    1. re: Tammy

                                                                      I must have died and gone to heaven. I would have a million dollars for this recipe.

                                                                      I grew up in Springfield in the mid 70's and have fond memories of cashew chicken from the Bamboo Inn. Then I turned 4! and we moved to St. Louis. Since then I've been to Springfield about once a year, and have never failed to stop for cashew chicken.

                                                                      My favorite food has always been the same for my entire life. The best I've found in St. Louis in Wong's Inn at Manchester Rd and Big Bend Blvd. But even this recipe is dwarfed by the cashew chicken served in Springfield.

                                                                      I may never go to another restuarant, ever again!

                                                                      1. re: Tammy

                                                                        No Leongs is no longer open many people black balled this restraunt for the diffrent flavor of its cashew chicken.

                                                                        1. re: Tammy

                                                                          I grew up in Springfield, MO too. Since I have been able to eat solid food, I have been eating cashew chicken three to four times a week. It is that good! Now that I have moved to Indiana, I can't find it anywhere. I literally crave this stuff! I have attempted to recreate this dish using recipes from various websites online, but it is never quite the same. I did find a pretty good recipe though from allrecipes.com. It claims to be the Leong's secret recipe.

                                                                          On another Springfield note... To Andy's and Mexican Villa: I miss you!!!

                                                                      2. re: Gio

                                                                        Great to know about. I remember in the dim recesses in my memory another town with interesting and distinct cashew chicken.

                                                                        There are numerous "regional" Chinese-American dishes out there, may favorite of which is the honey chicken in Miami (best at Canton Restaurant in Coral Gables).

                                                                        And this stuff really is regional cuisine. This is exactly how new dishes have come about, throughout history and all over the world. As with language, it's a process of continuous bastardization. Culinary darwinism.

                                                                        1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                          After living in Springfield, MO for 10 years I can attest to the delicacy offerred by this so-called americanized dish. Springfield offers more than just the Bass Pro Shop.. there is about a chinese restaurant on EVERY corner! The cashew chicken is truly the only way to go.. it's addictive.

                                                                        2. re: Gio

                                                                          This can be found in K.C. Kansas at Fire Wok in Johnson County. It is in the food bar there and labeled as: SPRINGFIELD CASHEW CHICKEN.

                                                                        3. Wing Leong who was mentioned in this thread has left "Cartoons" and gone on to "Fire and Ice" restaurant on Glenstone near I-44. I believe he still makes cashew chicken there on Wednesday nights.

                                                                          Unfortunately the original Leong's and Gee's have both closed. :( So Wing is as close as you'll get to the original real deal.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: zj74

                                                                            I don't see it mentioned elsewhere here, but Wing has opened Leong's Diner and brought back the family recipe. I posted a shoutout on another thread but since it belongs here too:

                                                                            The sauce is just right. Thick, mildly sweet and not cornstarchy. The problem is that the chicken has the now-familiar overcooked texture; the breast meat fared better than the dark.

                                                                            However this is not at "diner" prices. Dinner cost $11 with eggroll/rangoon and soup for an evening entree.

                                                                          2. I grew up in Springfield and my first job was at Leongs Teahouse. I still remember Mr. Leong and family gathering for dinner everynight at the restaurant. Part of my benefits was a free meal a night. For a 16 yr old this was great. I had authentic cashew chicken nightly.. Very fond memerories.

                                                                            1. I know this topic is 8 years old, but it deserves to live on forever. Cashew Chicken as made in Springfield is the first way I ever had it and quite frankly will be the only way I'll ever eat it! It's SO good that I swear I have dreams about eating it.

                                                                              I live in the Los Angeles area now and have been without it for THREE years now since my last visit to Springfield. I made a plea on the LA board on here if anyone serves it out here and of course I got little feedback.

                                                                              I've tried the recipes posted on the internet and they are close, but nothing is like the real thing! (And what a pain it is to deep fry in peanut oil or any oil for that matter!).

                                                                              I'll have to come back soon to eat some (and more importantly visit family)!!!

                                                                              I do say that the recipe needs to go beyond the barriers of Springfield and hit L.A. They eat tons of deep fried Orange Chicken, so it's not like they are health food nuts here.

                                                                              I think my strategy has to be to find Brad Pitt and get him to open a Cashew Chicken restaurant out here. It sounds odd, but if it made an impression on him like it tends to for most people, he's got to be craving it!!!

                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                              1. re: atrac

                                                                                The Brad Pit-BBQ and Cashew Chicken. Great concept:)

                                                                                1. re: atrac

                                                                                  How do I email people from this thread? Several made offers for a recipe ( was specifically interested in the one from Master Wang's) but would take any of them. But I guess I'm not smart enough to figure it out! Maybe I was trying to email someone that is no longer an active member? Thanks!!

                                                                                  1. re: DMBgirl

                                                                                    you've got to realize this thread is going on 8 years!
                                                                                    Try this lady's blog though. good memories.

                                                                                    1. re: bbqboy

                                                                                      Thanks BBQ - that lady that wrote about the Master Wong's recipe said the chicken was soaked overnight. Oh well, I'll give this one a try. Sounds good. My granny would LOVE me even more if I could just master it!

                                                                                  2. re: atrac

                                                                                    I am a lifetime KC Native, and my mom, dad and I went once weekly for lunch at Gee's Jade Wind at I-35 and Antioch in Kansas City North. They had a lunch special that had cashew chicken, sweet and sour pork, and your choice of green with beef or pepper steak and of course their one of a kind fried rice. The sweet and sour pork was one of a kind, too. A much thicker, sweeter, darker sauce and the pork was fried in a similar manner to the chicken.

                                                                                    The folks have a place halfway between Branson and Arkansas, so we still stop for some cashew chicken when we head through Springfield. In Kansas City, we haven't found anything the same. There is a little place in a strip mall at Englewood and 169 Highway North that has a similar sauce, but it's loaded with veggies and the chicken is not the same batter. Alot of places boast "cashew chicken springfield style" but they are primarily fried chicken in a brown sauce.

                                                                                    I will have to check out the Fire Wok soon. We are heading to the lake tomorrow and my Dad said there was a place on Sunshine in Springfield that was and old fast food place converted into a sit down and run by one of the family. I will check into it and report back!

                                                                                    (Oh, and the Sam's Club stuff was pretty darn close. I have a feeling being a packaged frozen food hurt it, and it was alot closer when it started than when it was served)

                                                                                    1. re: Quasifrodo

                                                                                      I think this thread should be renamed "Lazarus" for its ability to be revived over and over again. The thing is nine years old! Let it rest. Or, better still, start a new one with some current information.

                                                                                  3. Today's New York Times has a long article on Springfield cashew chicken, including a bio on David Leong. It took them less than ten years to discover it after Jim Leff did.


                                                                                    Quote from a Taiwanese immigrant now living in Springfield:

                                                                                    “I fought it at first. Now I eat cashew chicken three or four days a week.”

                                                                                    It's served everywhere. A diner run by Albanians offers it. One upscale place takes it to what they think is the next level by adding bourbon to the stock.

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Brian S

                                                                                      I read that. Very interesting story, and I'm glad to see the New York Times giving props to a region that doesn't get much attention.

                                                                                      1. re: rweater

                                                                                        I am one of the few central floridians who know how to make "springfield style" cashew chicken. I worked at Master Wongs in highschool and my stepmother was a waitress at Gee's and Leong's. The recipes differ somewhat. Gee's uses a litle bit of white pepper in the cashew sauce,,Gee and david's recipe is better. Ray Yep actually coined Master Wongs recipe. Its full of MSG and fillers. If i were in springfeild i would hit The place on battlefield or go to cartoons. I fix it for my son every now and then,, the secrets?? peanut oil,,green onions,,white pepper in the sauce but not too much! They dont just soak it in sugar and millk. They also throw in a little corn flour,salt and starch. then they roll the chicken in unseasoned flour before frying.
                                                                                        Hope that helps your recipes.

                                                                                        1. re: mountdorahound

                                                                                          I am begging for the recipe. I was born in Springfield and my parents started taking me to Gee's when I was 2. We moved around for a bit but when we went back to Springfield we would order some and freeze it to take back on the plane!!! I miss the cashew chicken like crazy. I am now pregnant for the second time and for the last two weeks it is the only thing I can think of. I have tried some of the recipes on the intranet but have not found one like the original. Anyone that helps would make a cranky pregnant woman soooo happy.

                                                                                    2. I love this thread! Eleven years old and it still gets responses. Could this be the oldest active thread on the site? And what is Jim Leff up to these days? He deserves a medal for getting this site underway (although it was a very different place in 2000, as was the Internet).

                                                                                      1. I first had cashew chicken in Springfield, MO about 45 years ago. It's delicious. I just thought that was how cashew chicken was supposed to be. When I first got some in another city, I thought they had messed it up. I eventually caught on that most Chinese restaurants "screw it up." Finally I found a Chinese restaurant in St. Louis County, Missouri where they do it right like they do in Springfield. It's near Spanish Lake and just off highway 270 north near where 270 crosses the Mississippi River. It's called China King and is at 1550 Sierra Vista Plz, Saint Louis, MO 63138

                                                                                        20 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: BrownBear9

                                                                                          I am glad for you. I first heard about Springfield MO cashew chicken in a NY Times article a few years back. I've never had a chance to try it at the source. It's not that other restaurants are screwing it up; it turns out that this is a local recipe that apparently pleases all sorts of people, including you!

                                                                                          Here's the article in case you are interested.


                                                                                          1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                                                            Well, pinchofsalt, you might like it. But I think there's a great reason why Springfield-style Cashew Chicken hasn't made it very far out of Springfield.

                                                                                            For me, it's way too bland. Which is how I found most of the food during the five years I lived in Springfield.

                                                                                            Springfield-style Mexican food, for example (at least as it's served at Mexican Villa), hasn't made it very far out of Springfield, either.

                                                                                            1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                              Chaqu'un a son gout, n'est-ce pas? I have not tried it, but if I ever will, thanks for the heads up. There are times that bland appeals, after all.

                                                                                              More generally, within the US, some regions tend towards spicier food, others more mild. I don't think my grandparents, who were immigrants, even knew what cayenne was. My kitchen is another story. We may be one nation, but we are not all the same when it comes to what we like to eat!

                                                                                              1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                                                                Yes, to each his own, indeed. And there definitely are times when "bland appeals." As you say, you have been given a "heads up."

                                                                                                I might have had a much different reaction to my first plate of Springfield-style Cashew Chicken had I been advised to try it during one of those "times when bland appeals."

                                                                                                However, no such heads up for me. That caveat undoubtedly would have been helpful when I first moved to Springfield and folks kept telling me how delicious was the Cashew Chicken. Unfortunately, after having lived for several years in Asia, including Hong Kong, I expected a completely different dish.

                                                                                            2. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                                                              Springfield cashew chicken is just one of a number of unique varieties of Americanized Chinese food.


                                                                                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                Very interesting article.

                                                                                                I must say, I found the idea of the egg fu yung sandwiches intriguing. My family has always loved egg sandwiches in various forms, and egg fu yung (and other egg-based patties/pancakes) are my father's very favorite Asian meal.

                                                                                                So the egg fu yung sandwich would be just another variety of egg sandwich, but with an Asian twist.

                                                                                                I think we'd love it. Dad, especially.

                                                                                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                  Thanks for the link. The article was very interesting. As a New Englander, I knew that chow mein sandwiches were a local thing, but was surprised to learn that chicken fingers are, too!

                                                                                                  1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                                                                    Are pork St. Paul sandwiches something that people eat outside of the area where I live in St. Louis, Missouri? I find them quite delicious. They are also made with eggs scrambled in with the pork, bean sprouts, etc. .

                                                                                                    1. re: BrownBear9

                                                                                                      Apparently unheard of outside of St. Louis.

                                                                                                      1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                        Wow! I just Googled it and found this on Wikipedia: According to local legend, the St. Paul sandwich was invented by Steven Yuen at Park Chop Suey in Lafayette Square, a neighborhood near downtown St. Louis; Yuen named the sandwich after his hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota.
                                                                                                        Wikipedia says we've had that sandwich here since the early 40's. The rest of the world needs to catch up.

                                                                                                      2. re: BrownBear9

                                                                                                        I like the ham st paul much tastier than plain pork, try it u will like it:=)

                                                                                                        1. re: Braumeister

                                                                                                          I'll do that. I haven't had any kind of St. Paul sandwich in a few years because I've been retired about 5 years. I used to eat them when people where I worked voted to call out for Chinese food to be delivered. One of the girls I worked with had an ethnic accent and called them Poke St. Paul sandwiches, never realizing that I got a kick out of the way she pronounced pork. Now that you mention it, I do remember that they had shrimp St. Paul also, but don't recall the ham or if there were any other meats used.

                                                                                                  2. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                                                                    Thanks for the very informative article. I had no idea anyone in New York had ever heard of Missouri, let alone Springfield. I thought everyone there just thought of us as fly over country. Of course I was being facetious in saying that other Chinese restaurants "mess it up." I realize that is how they intend to fix cashew chicken and that is how it was originally made. I'm just saying that for my tastes, I was extremely disappointed when the cashew chicken came to me in a non-Springfield style and I never order it now if I know it is not available in Springfield style. At least here in St. Louis, there is nothing spicy about the traditional cashew chicken so I have no idea what James is talking about. I've eaten in Chinese restaurants in New York City and San Francisco. They have so many, to me unusual dishes in those restaurants that I would never waste my meal on cashew chicken there. I've yet to try sea urchin, but the things done in Chinese community restaurants such as in New York will keep me interested for a long time before I will ask them to kill my taste buds with something spicy. That sounds more like Thailand or Mexico than food from China.

                                                                                                    1. re: BrownBear9

                                                                                                      It's Chandavki who deserves the thank you. Actually, while I grew up in NY I have spent more than half my life here near Boston, and I just finished up some work that involved teaming up with an old college friend who lives in Missouri. Small world, eh?

                                                                                                      About spicy Chinese food, yes, there are regions in China where the food can be quite spicy. Around here spicy Chinese food is quite common, usually in the form of Hunan and Szechuan style cooking. However there is plenty of great non-spicy Chinese food, too. My guess is the Chinese food in your area is most influenced by Cantonese cooking, but if you can find a Shanghai style restaurant you might enjoy that too (lots of wheat noodles, sweet/salty dishes).

                                                                                                      1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                                                                        Restauranteurs like David Leong represented the first wave of Chinese immigration to America which was concentrated in migrants from the rural regions of southern China where people consider bell peppers to be spicy. After 1965 you had the second wave in which spicier Chinese food made its first appearance. However, some parts of the US have not seen much of the second wave.


                                                                                                        1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                          That's very interesting. I had no idea. I will learn something about and pay attention to the regional designation of Chinese restaurants, and make it a point to go to different ones of them in St. Louis to see if I can find some spicy food here. Not that I think I'll like spicy food, but I like to try new things.

                                                                                                          1. re: BrownBear9

                                                                                                            You might try to look for some of these dishes:


                                                                                                            And, while in my personal experience you're right that traditional Chinese cashew chicken isn't particularly spicy (unless you request the addition of Chinese hot peppers), it is a full-flavored dish, with no breaded, fried chicken, and no heavy brown bland Western-style gravy.

                                                                                                            This recipe is much like the Cashew Chicken I enjoyed at my favorite restaurant when I lived in Hong Kong, and more like what I initially expected upon hearing about Cashew Chicken when I first moved to Springfield: http://www.cookography.com/2009/simpl...

                                                                                                            As I say, I might not have been so put off by Springfield-style Cashew Chicken had I been told beforehand what to expect.

                                                                                                            1. re: BrownBear9

                                                                                                              Restaurants labeled Hunan and Szechuan are more likely to be spicy. But then you get these places that describe their food as "Cantonese, Mandarin and Szechuan" or something like that, and I wonder if it's all pretty mild.

                                                                                                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                                I think most of that comes down to where said restaurant is located. I've lived all over the world but found that restaurants in most locations where I lived in the Midwest (Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska - and also New Hampshire, although that's not Midwest) definitely toned down whatever cuisine they were offering. After all, their first obligation is to keep their doors open, so they have to sell what customers will buy. So I would expect even a Chinese restaurant labeled Szechuan in the Midwest to offer milder food than if it were located elsewhere where palates welcome more highly-spiced offerings.

                                                                                                                Most of the food in the restaurants in Springfield seemed to me to follow along that pattern. I recall a conversation with a man that owned a successful Middle Eastern restaurant in Springfield regarding the tabbouleh. I wasn't eating it, so he stopped by to inquire as to why. When I told him that I preferred tabbouleh with a lot less bulgur and a lot more parsley, and a whole lot more lemon juice, he told me that that was how he first made and served it, but that it wasn't selling well. So, after he considerably toned down the flavor profile, it became quite popular.

                                                                                                                And much of the "Mexican" food there was pretty bland. The salsa might as well have been gazpacho, unless you knew to ask for something hotter.

                                                                                                                You've just got to adapt if you're going to stay in business.

                                                                                                                Although there were a few Springfield restaurants that did serve appropriately spicy foods (Soo's Korean Kitchen, and the Tamale King come to mind), they definitely seemed to cater more to an expat community than to the locals born and raised there.

                                                                                                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                                  I think the "Cantonese, Mandarin and Szechuan" sign is the old "will please all" designation for Chinese-American restaurants. Or in other words: there is something for everyone on our menu!

                                                                                                    2. While it certainly isn't 'authentic' or high-brow, I'll admit to liking Springfield's cashew chicken a lot. Though I am saddened by a new trend at Springfield's many Chinese buffets whereby the rice, fried chicken bits, and brown sauce for the dish are readily available on the buffet, but you have to go hunting for the dish of cashews...it is usually tucked somewhere near a restaurant employee (like the guy doing the grilled-to-order stuff or back by the sushi) who can glare suspiciously at you as you spoon up the increasingly-expensive ingredient that makes it 'cashew' chicken.

                                                                                                      1. This recommendation is not from personal experience, but my son's best friend is an "ABC" - American-born Chinese - born and raised in Springfield. His father is a Chinese master chef. When the family wanted Westernized Chinese food, like Springfield Cashew Chicken, Sweet & Sour Chicken, etc., they went to Peking House, on Sunshine.

                                                                                                        The whole family has recently relocated to the San Francisco Bay area, so they haven't visited Peking House in a couple of years, but that was by far their favorite.

                                                                                                        I haven't noticed any other posts about Peking House, so thought I'd mention it.