Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Stapleton Chinese Restaurant (and it's NOT Tung Bo)

97-99 Water Street, Stapleton - 1931

When I was a kid Chinese restaurants were not that common and many tended to be of the Jade Island "Polynesian" variety. Today, of course, they're everywhere and some are quite good. My first memory of eating in one was in Stapleton in the very early seventies. It struck my five year old self as very exotic and very great. I remember the food was like nothing I had had ever had before and I liked it.

You can't see the restaurant's name but you can see the wonderful Chinese-style awning and the curtains and decorations on the second floor window in detail.

I can't remember it's name right now, but it was originally located up on the second floor of a building on Water Street in Stapleton two store fronts down from the the late and lamented Woolworths.

At some point it moved half a block away to Beach Street and remained there into the eighties. Eventually it closed and was replaced by a hair salon. You can still see the outline of the Chinese style entrance and small windows that marked it's existence.

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NOTE: I'd like to know more about the history of Chinese-Americans on Staten Island. Growing up I didn't encounter too many but from my readings I know that at one point there were like a dozen Chinese laundries on Jersey Street with more about the Island. The restaurant above was opened in at lest 1931 and remained open for more than fifty years. That's a remarkable history. I'd like to know who these immigrants were, what drew them here and what happened to them.


Elizabeth said...

I think the name was Ying Wah.

Anonymous said...

If it was the Chinese Restaurant a few doors from Woolworth's, it was called "ChopSuey". You can see the sign on an earlier facebook posting. It is a picture of a young girl, leaning against a car with the sign behind her.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth is correct the name of the restaurant was Ying Wah's

Keith said...

Hello. It was really a nice surprise when I googled Ying Wah Restaurant and came upon your blog. Ying Wah was owned by my family. My grandparents, my mom and her brothers and sisters first immigrated to the US in the early 60's and Staten Island played a big part in shaping their lives in America. That building on Beach Street was our family home for over 50 years. Attached is a video of my Uncle Tzi Ma, now an actor, who briefly talks about growing up as one of very few Chinese boys on Staten Island. While many of us in my generation have since settled all over the country, Staten Island will always be home for us.


Anonymous said...

Omg I use to love that restraunt when I was a kid and I remember Bill very very well......then your right they moved down to beach street across from the big bank"

Keith said...

Uncle Bill was awesome. US Vet who fought in the Korean War. All the kids loved him and he remembered everyone and everything and always talked about the regulars at the restaurant. He and his wife moved to CA after the restaurant closed to be closer to his kids and grandkids. He passed in 2009. He was 85 years young.