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Legendary Los Angeles Restaurateur Madame Wu Has Died at Age 106

Plus, Petite Peso is opening in Las Vegas next year, LEszett launches at Ezsett, and more

Sylvia Wu, owner of famed restaurant Madame Wu’s.
Sylvia Wu.
Photo by Getty Images/Bob Riha, Jr.

Southern California lost a legend last month, as legendary restaurant owner Sylvia Wu died on September 19 at the age of 106. She opened Madame Wu’s Garden in 1959 and operated it until 1998. During its heyday, Madame Wu’s was packed with celebrities such as Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and Elizabeth Taylor.

Her tale reads like a novel or biopic. According to the Los Angeles Times, Sylvia Wu, née Cheng, grew up in a privileged household and learned to cook from her maid. She immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong before World War II, after a friend offered a one-way ocean liner ticket. She met her husband King Yan Wu while getting an education degree at Columbia University, then moved to Los Angeles with their three children while her husband took a job at Hughes Aircraft Company.

Wu lamented Los Angeles’s then-majority, poorly executed Cantonese restaurants. Before opening Madame Wu’s, she solicited support from her church and asked her friend and president of NBC Robert E. Kintner to help get the word out. Wu transformed a storefront at 2628 Wilshire Boulevard into Madame Wu’s Garden, where its 50 seats immediately became the hottest ticket in town. Hollywood stars were served in the VIP imperial room outfitted with Chinese jade statues and a massive koi pond. In 1969, Madame Wu’s moved into a larger space.

Madame Wu’s chef is also rumored to have created the Chinese chicken salad for Cary Grant, which still lives on in restaurants throughout the U.S.

LA city council candidate apologizes for wage theft at her restaurant

On Friday, September 30, Los Angeles City Council candidate Danielle Sandoval apologized for her handling of wage-theft claims against her restaurant Caliente Cantina, Yahoo News reports. Employees allege that she failed to pay them for work they performed.

A weekly LGBTQIA night at Eszett

Eszett typically hosts an industry night every Monday, but tonight the Silver Lake wine bar launches “LEszett,” an LGBTQIA night with a special wine selection, oysters, an Indigo Girls sing-a-long, and a speed dating session. It runs from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations are recommended, but not required.

Petite Peso and Lamill head to Vegas

A new food hall called the Sundry opens in Las Vegas in early 2023 and will feature more than a dozen restaurants and bars. The lineup includes DTLA Filipino darling Petite Peso and LA-based Lamill Coffee.

Petite Peso’s family-style meal.
Dishes from Petite Peso.
Wonho Frank Lee