1/17/09

THE PINK PALACE with the white carp


The original is long since gone, but not in the memory of two little girls. It was a pink palace in Waikiki with a big fish pond inside. We were especially taken with a beautiful white carp that swam around the island in the center of the pond. We named "him" Whitey and our memories of that fish still remain. Our families dined on all sorts of tasty delights. I remember loving the bread that seemed nearly raw served with the duck. Poor duck. Poor carp.

Lau Yee Chai was torn down a year or so after we visited. I don't know what they put up in its place. I do see by doing an online search that there is another Lau Yee Chai in Waikiki, but it can never compare to the original. It can never have the magic. The original was like being in a palace. Pure fantasy for those two little girls.

This menu is actually from 1945, not from when we visited in 1959. My dad visited the restaurant during World War II. Somehow this thing has survived all these years in near mint condition.

The pidgin English is a bit bizarre. Okay, it's over-the-top. I'm guessing P.Y. Chong had to pretend to be something he wasn't in order to make a living, but then I remember my folks saying how expensive the food was so I imagine financially he was doing pretty well. He played the game and won.

There are 4 more pages of this that I haven't scanned.

Click on the images to see them larger.

P.Y. Chong_menu_front_tatteredandlost

P.Y Chong_menu_interior_tatteredandlost

P.Y Chong_menu_back_tatteredandlost

Update: Turns out the Lau Yee Chai we went to was not the original. My father informed me that the one he went to in 1945 was located near the mouth of the Ala Wai where the Ilikai stands. It was in a swamp with the building up on stilts. I've never seen a photo of this. Hope to find one someday.

Update 11.21.10: Today I received the following comment from P. Y. Chong's grandson. The net can be such an amazing place. Thanks for contacting me.
The stories of PY Chong and his resturant are very interesting. The resturant was sold many years ago at auction. The menus are an excellent snapshot of that era in hawaii history. I am glad so many people got to eat there and experience it, since it was something I can only read about. Thank you for sharing your memories. I am PY Chong's grandson.

10 comments:

  1. Anonymous1/19/2009

    Do you remember that there was a courtyard where we ate- and there was a huge,probably lava rock, stone wall that had small mountain villages depicted on it? I hope you have a memory of that.
    I do remember Whitey and the host scolding us for bothering the fish. He told us to go back to our parents' table.

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  2. I remember it sort of as a courtyard, open on the sides but with a roof. And yes, the island/mountain was in the middle of the pond with Whitey swimming around it. I didn't remember us being sent back to the table but it wouldn't surprise me because we kept going over to see the fish. We were in our own little world and probably driving other diners nuts or at the very least the proper Chinese gentlemen that ran the place. All giggles and "ohhhhhs" and "ahhhhhhhhs." Wish I could find some photos of the inside. I did find postcards online of the exterior. How is it we didn't end up with one of those?

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  3. Anonymous11/21/2010

    The stories of PY Chong and his resturant are very interesting. The resturant was sold many years ago at auction. The menus are an excellent snapshot of that era in hawaii history. I am glad so many people got to eat there and experience it, since it was something I can only read about. Thank you for sharing your memories. I am PY Chong's grandson.

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  4. I'm so thrilled you wrote. And I'm so glad to have done something small to honor your grandfather. My family and best friend still talk about dining there and what a wonderful magical experience it was. My father still remembers meeting your grandfather when he came to the table to ask how things were. You're so very lucky to have been part of this history. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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  5. Anonymous6/12/2012

    My grandfather was quite a showman, and over the years my uncles and cousins who all worked at the resturant have handed down bits and pieces of stories, including recipes from the resturant! Old pictures of my father "the general" show all of PY Chongs children posing on the rock garden which was a big pile of large boulders which my dad told me PY was constantly re-arranging to "beautify" the resturant. Also several popular dishes are claimed by PY as his, i.e. cold chicken. Many a hollywood star ate at the resturant back in the 30s and 40s. My dad also told me Adm Halsey and PY were drinking buddies. Today PY Chong has 2 children still alive and only 3 grandchildren.

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    Replies
    1. So thrilled you posted. My family, and my best friend's family, have wonderful memories of the place. So glad you found the post! I wish everyone could have experienced the magic of the restaurant. Showman indeed!

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  6. Anonymous1/22/2015

    I have a original p.y. chong menu signed and dated 1944 if any interest leave a reply on this page.(annette)

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  7. Yes, interested!

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  8. Aloha. A family members Aunt had her reception at the Ala Moana Rd location in 1946. We only have a receipt from this location and no photos or information specially about this location. May I respectfully ask if you have any photos of your grandfather at the time or information of the restaurant on Ala Moana Rd? Mahalo so much for all the help.

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    1. Sorry to say that the person related to the "grandfather" has never again contacted me. All I have is the menu I have posted here that my father got in the 1940s.

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