Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lau Yee Chai

Back in the 40s and 50s Lau Yee Chai, at the corner of Kalakaua and Kuhio Avenues, was one of the premier restaurants and nightspots in Waikiki. The brainchild of legendary chef and entrepreneur P. Y. Chong, it projected a glamorous Hollywood-inflected China with its ornate moon gate, red-gated carp pool and enormous rock garden and waterfall. Unusually for a Waikiki establishment Lau Yee Chai was popular with tourists and servicemen as well as locals, who remember it fondly as a spot for “special occasions,” meaning you wore shoes there.

Like all good things Lau Yee Chai eventually went into decline; the restaurant was sold and moved to the Waikiki Shopping Plaza on Kalakaua Avenue in 1963 and after serving as a venue for band concerts the faded chop suey palace was razed in 1968.

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