When KungFu Restaurant was founded in 1973 on 3rd and Fremont street in downtown Las Vegas, we had enough seats for 25 guests and a takeout counter. Back then Las Vegas was very different. Everyone who came to Vegas visited Downtown, Nixon was in office, Bruce Lee became the first Asian starring in a lead Motion Picture production film “Enter the Dragon”, and people thought Thai was something you wore around your neck. But Chinese? Almost everyone knew China, and that to enjoy Chinese cuisine meant you had to eat rice with chopsticks. Thanks to Bruce everyone started to practice “Kung Fu” thinking it was some kind of an ancient warrior dance. Little does the average person realize that “Kung Fu” – or “Gong Fu” as it is pronounced in Cantonese – literally means “to work harder or hard at something”.
Nevertheless, Mr. and Mrs. Wong decided that since everyone knew KungFu from Bruce’s films, they might as well name the restaurant after it. Their intent was to name it for the “work hard at something” part vs. martial arts. Back then Thailand was mostly known for the Bar girls that American service men frequented during the Vietnam war, not the rich tasting cuisine that was actually good for you. Opening a Thai restaurant in 1973 in Las Vegas was, to put it simply, murder. Feeling undeterred Mr. and Mrs. Wong who immigrated to the United States from Thailand in 1967 decided to open the first Thai and Chinese restaurant in Las Vegas back in 1973. Since no one knew what Thai food was, much less where Thailand was on a map, and forget spelling it, they decided to gradually introduce Thai food to Las Vegans – one dish at a time. Back then KungFu restaurant’s entire menu consisted of Chinese food dishes, but over time, one dish at a time, we have added more and more Thai food dishes into our menu.