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Wan Q, Los Angeles, CA (restaurant)

Pages: 1 46 replies

Name:Wan Q
Street:8751 West Pico Blvd
City:Los Angeles
Phone:CRestview 50734

As far as a few minutes of Internet research can tell me, this location is now a regular Chinese Restaurant called Fu's Palace. All I know about is is in the following article I dug up.

"I can't die until the government finds a safe place to bury my liver."
Phil Harris

DANG! It WAS a readable size. Hanford, help me!

[ Edited by: pappythesailor 2007-07-19 07:27 ]

I belive there is a brief reference to it in the BOT.

Cafe Ramblings by Larry Lipson 7 Sep. 1973 Van Nuys, Calif.

Eng Land is Cantonese

Some 25 Years ago, Benny Eng opened a Chinese Restaurant on Pico Blvd. near Robertson on the west side of Los Angeles called Wan Q.
A quarter of a century back meant a Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles was simply that--a Chinese restaurant! No frills, just good Cantonese Food purveyed in establishments offering various degrees of oriental trappings.
But somewhere along the way came the Polynesian explosion. Donn Beach probably began the whole thing with his Don the Beachcomber way back in the early thirties. Vic Bergeron picked up on the idea later when he changed the name of Hinky Dink's in Oakland to the now familiar name of Trader Vic's.
Benny Eng, caught in the Polynesian net, redid his place prettily with rattan, bamboo, tikis and waterfalls where today it stands as one of the few remaining that is as worthy a restaurant for its food as for its adventurous decor.
Like most Polynesian restaurants, Wan Q carries rumaki (a Don the Beachcomber invention) and the mai tai cocktail (one of Trader Vic's creations). However Wan Q, like the beer commercial says, is a lot more.
After or during a round or two from the extensive list of "tropi-cocktails", from whence you can easily become pie-eyed from a pi-yi, swizzled from a rum swizzle or catatonic from a zombie, there is a wonderful dipping-and-eating-of-appetizers ceremony. Besides the usual ketchup and mustard dipping sauce, Wan Q puts a marvelously piquant sweet and sour plum sauce on every table.
On Monday night, the fact that it was Labor Day didn't seem to affect the usual goings-on. The place was busy although not busting at the seams. Jimmy Gee, waiter extraordinary, and a 15-year employe (sic) at the restaurant, described every dish he brought with tremendous verve, his jollity catching on with us and making the whole experience extremely enjoyable. He delivered you gau (minced chicken, shrimp, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, wrapped in a half moon shape and deep fried in egg batter, $1.20) and called it Chinese ravioli--which I've also heard applied to Won Ton--and sui mui (chopped meat, chicken, shrimp, vegetables, spices, wrapped in noodle dough, topped in sesame seeds, steamed, served with brown sauce, $1.20) and called in Chinese Kreplach.
The witty, informative, knowledgeable and on-the-spot waiter served us barbecued spareribs ($2.20) of good flavor despite an apparent fattiness and chewiness and also bula maka ($1.95), as tender as the ribs weren't. The latter translates into thin strips of juicy beef tenderloin swimming in a tangy ginger sauce, sometimes served in kabob fashion on a bamboo spear.
Although we were Eng-ulfed (sic-pun!) in food, we opted for the jar du gai salad ($2.85) over wor wonton soup and our mmms and aahs could be heard throughout the dining room. Resembling an uncrispy version of of the crispy chicken salad of northern China, the jar du gai was beautifully light and palate-cleansing as a salad should be; a delicate harmony of shredded chicken, almond nuts, spices, chopped lettuce, long rice, chopped green onions and sesame seeds.
The effervescent, skillful, little Jimmy quickly bustled in with the first entree dish, scallops kow ($2.95); the delightfully soft crustaceans (ahem!) amid two different mushroom types, pea pods, and bamboo shoots in a creamy garlic sauce.
Incidentally, one more point in the smiling waiter's favor was his careful toweling of each clean plate before it was placed before us, a small but important chore rarely undertaken by either waiters, waitresses or busboys today.
Host Eng, who seemed slightly surprised that we requested chopsticks, figures about 35 per cent of his Wan Q clientele asks for them these days. (How surprised can you be when something happens better than one out of three times??--Pappy) They are not included in the place settings. He said 25 years ago, very few of his occidental patrons (Hey, we prefer the term European Americans!--pappy) would even dare to give chopsticks a try.
Eng took me on a quick tour of the kitchen, ("Hey, Jimmy! Move cats to freezer for five minutes.") a much larger facility than expected. He admitted to five enlargements of dining rooms and-or kitchen during his two and a half decades as Wan Q proprietor and said he currently has plans afoot for some interior decor (NOOOooo!) and structural changes.
'It looks like you have a lot of woks here," (Oh, brother.) I said as we traversed the spacious cooking area and a noticed a long row of the huge cooking pans so necessary in the preparation of Chinese food. "We have 11 of them," he smiled proudly, and when asked if that was a lot (Didn't we just establish this?), he said that the only Chinese restaurant he was aware of with more was the Golden Dragon in New Chinatown. ("That's it, we're outta here!")
Going whole hog (between $6 and $10 per person excluding drinks) like we did and ordering a la carte may be the best but not the most economical way to dine here. Complete dinners for two or more range from $3.50 to $6.95 per person and I was astonished to find on the back page of the menu and almost hidden chicken chow mein and prix fixe, (He got me; I had to look this up. It means "A complete meal of several courses, sometimes with choices permitted, offered by a restaurant at a fixed price.") full course Cantonese meal for two at $2.75 a head.
If the word gets around about this there should soon be one heckuva queue at Wan Q.

(I haven't typed that much since college!)

Wan Q is in BOT on pg. 62 it shows their matchbook progression as they change from a box shaped Chinese Restaurant to an A-frame entrance Chinese Restaurant.

Here’s Fu’s Palace from the same angle as the matchbooks.

The only evidence on the inside of its Poly Pop past is this waterfall.

The bar is big but it’s just a bar. I had a Zombie there once.


Great post Pappythesailor! I love reading about these places!! Something in the history and nostalgia of it all. It's also because these places just aren't around here anymore!

It was a different time when people/servers liked what they were doing and cared about the way and how they did it. The restaurants details and decor was to help achieve the goal that it's time to relax, eat, drink and have some fun!!
Dining out should be an experience and that's what these types of places achieved!

Bora Boris - Thanks for adding the photos! Always better to see pictures to go along with it all. Before and after photos are great way to show how they years have changed these establishments.

I have seen a couple different mugs out there with Wan-Q on them I believe. In mind straight away is the OMC Mug that is in the dark beige color with the dark brown dragon wrapped around it.

Does anyone know if there were mugs available there? Later, TabooDan

Wan Q was one of the most over-the-top Polynesian experiences possible.
It was amazing!


Here is a scan of one of their matchbooks. Has a nice image of their tiki sign on the front, but the image of the building has horrible printing.

I also found this interesting article about the restaurant on povonline.com:

"Wan-Q was a terrific Chinese restaurant located on Pico Boulevard, just east of Robertson, in the building that now houses another terrific Chinese restaurant called Fu's Palace. Unlike Wan-Q, Fu's Palace is not a dark place full of tropical decor and little streams and waterfalls that run through the room. I took some of my first dates to Wan-Q because it seemed to be that kind of place, but its main clientele was local Jewish families.

If you were Jewish in the sixties in Los Angeles, it seemed almost mandatory that your family have a favorite Chinese restaurant. In that area, loyalties were divided between Wan-Q and a place a few blocks east on Pico named Kowloon, which is also now long gone. There were other Chinese eateries along that stretch of Pico but somehow, even local newspaper reporters sensed the great Wan-Q/Kowloon rivalry and wrote of it. We were Wan-Q people but once, just to be fair-minded, we dined at Kowloon and confirmed our hunch that it was inferior.

The waiters at Wan-Q were great and they really did fit the Great Chinese Waiter Stereotype of all looking alike...but you could tell them apart by the loud Hawaiian-style shirts they wore. There was one who thought the funniest thing in the world was to ask, when a family ordered something with pork in it, "Are you Joosh?" That was how he pronounced "Jewish."

Wan-Q was the first place I ever had Chinese Food and to this day, my concept of the right way to prepare certain dishes is rooted in how they were prepared there. It was a sad day when they went out of business, not only for my family and for the proprietors of Wan-Q but also for whoever owned that building. It proceeded to house a veritable United Nations of different failed restaurants (Mexican, Polynesian, Jamaican, etc.) before finally, after a decade or so, reverting to its birthright as a Chinese eatery. I used to drive by and marvel at how each new tenant adapted some of the exterior decor of the previous resident. The odd roof that's there now and the split telephone poles nailed to the sides of the building are, I believe, leftovers from the Polynesian period. They didn't make a lot of sense then, either."

You can also get a good view of the current building on Google Maps Street View.


Easily one of my most favorite old Tiki restaurant menu covers....

(photo courtesy Arkiva Tropica)

Serisously, does it get more, mysterious and exotic looking than this ?

I bet the sweet and sour sauce was as red as the cover as this menu.

Anyone with interior photos of Wan-Q, please anti-up !

Now, I need to go eat at the place that's there now and see how the food is....LA Chinese food is so disappointing, but I have to try it.


OK...Stopped by and had lunch at Fu's Palace / Wan Q.

All my wishes on the food came true.

I sat down, 20 seconds later the waiter brought over a bowl of crunchy rice noodles and tangy duck sauce.

The tea : Black, none of that foo foo Jasmine crap all the new places serve.

The have the REAL egg rolls, with pork and shrimp, as well as the now-standard-issue "spring rolls"

I ordered some egg rolls and Sweet and Sour Chicken. The egg rolls were great...totally old school, they came with sweet and sour and hot mustard on the side.

The Sweet and Sour Chicken as decent...white meat, not quite saucy enough for my taste, but still damn good.

I also noticed later on the menu that they have "NY Style Chow Mein" (stated that way on the menu....Awesome) ! Very hard to find that in LA.

So....2 Thumbs up on the food.

The big waterfall is there, and still works.You could see the grandeur of the old place...it's pretty big inside, and you could tell, that a few weeks in the hands of Bamboo Ben, Tiki Diablo, Bosko and Crazy Al, and this place would be Amazing .

I inquired to the manager about anything Tiki leftover, but the last place before it took it all when they moved....It was "The Sugar Shack" , which I'd heard about before I moved to LA...it was a rock club...lots of punk and powerpop bands played there. It was their second location "Jacks Sugar Shack" that was home to my old band's first show.

Anyway, it's no longer Tiki, but it's still a great. old school Chinese joint.

Long Live Wan-Q !

Look for a Possible Tikiyaki Orchestra function at this place in the future.

[ Edited by: tikiyaki 2008-05-14 14:51 ]

Here is the transition of the Wan-Q from Chinese Restaurant to Polynesian Restaurant like the Book of Tiki did with matchbooks but I'm using the L.A. Yellow Pages

• 1959 I didn't know that Take Out Food was once known as Chicago Style.

• 1964 The Q Room Cocktail Lounge makes way for the Mauna Loa Tropical Room and the Exotic Macao Bar.

• 1970 You want Tiki? We got Tiki.

Here's the ad from 1964 as it appears in the phone book with some of the other restaurants around it.

I like the way KAWAFUKU reads down the side and who wouldn't waste a wish by having a Genie cook you a shish kabob? :wink:

[ Edited by: bora Boris 2008-05-20 10:19 ]

I'm not a huge fan of Asian food, but I would go and find somethin to eat if Tikiyaki played there.


[ Edited by: bigtikidude 2008-05-20 10:59 ]

On 2008-05-11 14:56, Mo-Eye wrote:
Here is a scan of one of their matchbooks. Has a nice image of their tiki sign on the front, but the image of the building has horrible printing.

Picked a few of these today with a clearer printing of the building:

Buzzy Out!

Wasn't there talk of Tikiyaki playing there?
even if it was just the Tikiyaki lite 4 or 5 piece.
I'd go.


My Wan Q menu is more like the matchbook.


On 2009-06-04 11:15, Tiki-Kate wrote:
My Wan Q menu is more like the matchbook.

Kate, I'm jealous....can you plase post pics of the entire menu ? pleeeeeeze ?

Here you go. It's awfully hard to get good pictures without a scanner. And yes, it's all held together by tape.

Just for you, Jim. Please enjoy Wan Q's Tropi-cocktails...

And their famed Polynesian and Cantonese dinners...

As well as Wan Q's inimitable dishes.

I don't think they really wanted anyone to order anything off of the back of the menu.


Thanx Kate !
Wow, this menu has all the classic Tiki Menu Graphic items. I especuially love the drink menu section with that great tiki torch, and skull. Good stuff.

Where, ever did you find this ?

Where, ever did you find this ?

Do the current menus have any resemblance?

Torches....unlit for decades.

An anchor we discovered, hidden behind some overgrown weeds on the back patio.


Mahalo Scott fer posting pix of out tiki adventure last night!

Here's what went down:

Scott, Manuel and I went to see the Art of the Pacific Collection at LACMA, and afterwards, we went to dinner at Fu's Palace, formerly Wan Q, where we discovered something neat!

Scott was already snapping photos when we arrived, and he pointed out something we had not noticed the last time we were there: right at the pinnacle of the main A-frame, over the front entrance, were two tiki torches! We were amazed! I don't recall anyone pointing out those torches before.

We went inside and checked out the big stone fountain, vainly searching for some leftover scrap of tiki, but to no avail.

Then, we were seated, and within moments, a table nearby had a huge flaming shell bowl delivered to them. Whoa! A Scorpion bowl! We missed that last time were were there, too!

Or feisty server came to take our order and we immediately requested one of the flaming bowls.

The menu had a PuPu Platter and... Rumaki! This place was getting tikier by the minute!

So Scott had the Rumaki as an appetizer, along with the scorpion bowl... in Wan Q (for all intents and purposes)... so Tiki of him!

During our meal, we asked several staff members about the torches, and the had no idea they even existed.

There is a back patio at the restaurant, and while we were eating, Manuel casually mentioned that he saw a couple of anchors hidden behind the palm trees. Scott's and my tiki radar instantly registered a potential tiki unearthing. After dinner, he hurried out back, and sure enough, there were two gigantic anchors. One was leaning against the back fence, mostly blocked from view by a patch of ferns. The other was against the ground, overgrown with a thick thatch of grasses, the only part uncovered was the top, but it was unmistakably an anchor.

We were surprised and excited! An anchor has no place in a Chinese restaurant, but EVERY place in a Tiki restaurant! Manuel most likely discovered some of the last existing remnants of Wan-Q!

Speaking of tiki remnants, sadly we discovered that the pier-pylon-like pieces of wood that adorned the outside of the restaurant have been removed, making it less tiki on the exterior. However, similar pylons can be seen holding up the Fu's Palace parking lot sign behind the restaurant, which must have been the Wan Q parking lot in it's day.

All in all, an exciting night!


On 2011-04-20 13:16, christiki295 wrote:

Where, ever did you find this ?

Do the current menus have any resemblance?

Hey Christiki295... that last pic Scott posted should answer your question.

The menus are dark green, with gold lettering and Chinese characters on the front, nothing remotely tiki about them. Even in the layout inside, which doesn't even list tropical drinks!


Wan-Q was a long time family favorite, and when my father was a young attorney just starting out, he was contacted by a restaurant owner who had just opened his restaurant, and who reported the landlord, after having 9 failed restaurant tenants, was harassing him for more money. My father then helped him and stopped the landlord. We used to go there, and Benny would try and comp the dinner. My father always refused, and said if Benny wanted to do something, cook a dish for us. The almond duck, which Benny cooked, was like no other.

We started eating there in the early 1950's, when Wan-Q was a single room, and continued going there as it expanded. I remember how proud Benny was of the additional rooms and the waterfalls, and how he had tried to depict his memories of China landscapes (which I don't think he ever returned to visit). I can remember as a child going through the bar (with all the waterfalls) and being transported far away from West LA.

The Chinese chicken salad (jar du gai) was also better than anything I have had (the recipe ultimately appeared in the LA Times) and was seemingly similar to the New China Moon recipe in old Chinatown. I can remember it coming on a dish, covered by a metal cover, pressed into a mound, with snow peas and shredded chicken covering the lettuce.

Many of the items (highly exotic by 1950's and 1960's standards) are now recognizable as such dim sum staples as har gow, sui mei). The egg rolls and foil chicken are still some of the best I have had.

Benny and his wife Maime were always gracious hosts, and their tradition continued with their children. This style of restaurant, with the obvious pride in operating, is sorely missed.


Aloha MCharles! Welcome to Tiki Central!

Thank you for the fine memories of Wan-Q.


I was looking for some stuff and happened to find these pictures on this site called onbunkerhill.org.


Nice work Hiltiki!


Including the restaurant's incarnation as the Sugar Shack, since the angle of the photo matches pretty well with the photo Hiltiki posted above.

A great "sign of the times". When the name change happened, the concept was already somewhat dated, too


With that name, I always imagine a Chinese proprietor with sideburns and bell bottoms talking in "Hey Baby, you're groovy!" lingo. :)


The Kon Tiki in Tucson had a great success with "Relight the Night" when they turned their torches back on after years of them being off. http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=34980&forum=4&hilite=relight%20the%20night

They had a custom mug made, fire dancers, and other shenanigans. Maybe the Wan Q could do something similar?


TikiTie, the sign is gone and as you can see from page 1 and below, the Wan Q is now Fu's Palace.

Great idea to revive the sign if it actually still existed and what the Tucson Kon Tiki did was fantastic!

It would be great to know who did the Wan Q sign though, as Bigbro and Kiara had pointed out in this thread it's very similar in style to Malibu's Tonga Lei sign R.I.P. I like their clunkiness.

In fact I'm going to call them... Sister Signs!

Don't try to stop me! :o


Charles Phoenix posted a nice image from one of his slides or postcards on Facebook today that is a little more colorful and vivid then any of the other images I have seen on this thread .

That's because Charles knows how to crank up the colors on old faded photos :) :

Before (previous page):


Photoshop baby!

GROG posted on Wed, Mar 6, 2013 4:52 PM

[ Edited by: GROG 2013-03-06 17:06 ]

Just simple I-photo saturation and warmth. CHARLES knows how to crank up the colors - GROG does not! :D

Groovy Grog - those are definite SUGAR SHACK colors! :)

Classic 1960s Scene....

In its glory days, Wan Q had an incredibly happening bar scene. I frequented it in the late 80s , when it retained its amazing faux tropical interior.
The times we had.

Saw this take out menu with a B & W version of the menu rendering. A classic. Reminds us all to appreciate what we still got.

This really needs to be one of Eric October's Tiki by Moonlight renderings!



On 2013-03-24 10:16, Dustycajun wrote:
Saw this take out menu with a B & W version of the menu rendering. A classic. Reminds us all to appreciate what we still got.

This really needs to be one of Eric October's Tiki by Moonlight renderings!


Hey Dusty!

I was just looking at this drawing and noticed there's a Tiki Torch in front of the tiki's face on the sign, and that made me think "Hey, that would make a great black paper drawing... and then I scrolled down and saw the last bit of your post!

So yeah, I'll probably do a drawing... just wondering if there really was a torch in that spot... there's a bit of bamboo in the photos running up in front of the tiki, but the top of the bamboo goes out of frame in all of the photos... ah well, I'll probably draw it as a lit torch, extending up above the tiki sign!

On 2013-04-19 17:36, tobunga wrote:

So yeah, I'll probably do a drawing... just wondering if there really was a torch in that spot... there's a bit of bamboo in the photos running up in front of the tiki, but the top of the bamboo goes out of frame in all of the photos... ah well, I'll probably draw it as a lit torch, extending up above the tiki sign!

A torch lit in front of the Tiki indeed Tobunga, as seen on the menu cover from Tiki Kate.

This one was made for your artistic talents!


I managed to score one of the early Wan-Q Tiki menus, a little different than the one Tikiyaki posted.

The drink illustrations.

Some additional graphics in the menu.

The Macao Room must have been the bar.


wow! awesome find there

Good score, pal!


Fun Wan-Q enamel pin for you Tiki pin collectors that are fans of Wan-Q!


Wan-Q very much, you Wan-Q!

Pages: 1 46 replies