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.
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.