The last remaining location of Wong's Wok has closed its doors at 3702 S. 27th St.
Long known for its eggrolls, lo mein, fried rice and Empress plates, the family owned Chinese fast food restaurant was a local operation through and through, serving customers not only at its various locations but also at Summerfest.
Their stand was not only a popular spot at the festival, but it was among the vendor stalls where local chefs like Paul Zerkel of Goodkind and Duffy O’Neil of North Star Bistro, found work during their teenage years.
45 years of Wong's Wok
Edward Chin, who passed away in 2022 at the age of 80, established the first Wong's Wok inside the Capitol Court shopping mall (now Midtown Center) in 1979 alongside his cousin Paul Wong.
Born in New Jersey, Chin spent most of his life in Milwaukee, where his family was enmeshed in both the Chinese community and the restaurant business. But, after graduating from school, Chin left his family in The Cream City and headed across the country, gaining experience in the hotel industry while working in some of the nation’s largest cities. When he returned in 1978, he teamed up with his cousin, Wong, and together they opened the first of many Wong’s Wok restaurants.
In a 2015 interview with Chin's daughter Jennifer Norvik, who managed operations for two Wong's Wok locations (including the 27th Street location), she noted that Wong's Wok operated as many as 13 locations – some located in area malls, and some free-standing – during the heyday of the business in the 1980s.
Norvik was unavailable for comment at the time this story was published.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.