OWNER & HOST OF THE MALAYA. RIP.
By Mike Canavan.
If you’ve been in the advertising, production, marketing, media, sales, television or the radio business over the past forty or so years, there is little or no doubt that you have enjoyed the hospitality of Lance Wong, the Host and owner of the Malaya Restaurant.
Yesterday, we said farewell to one of the greats of the restaurant industry. Lance Wong: 16 August 1959 – 5 February 2018. He leaves his wife, Givie, Duan and Isabella, their children, along with a legion of loyal family, friends, and diners.
At a time when Sydneysiders thought Asian food meant sweet and sour or lemon chicken, the Malaya arrived to prove otherwise.
”I can remember my father was worried if the food would be accepted by the public,” said Lance. ”It took a few years, but eventually it caught on.”
We first started going to the Malaya when his father Wong Tai See, was trading at the southern end of George Street near Central Railway, and Lance was a waiter on the floor; learning the trade and wooing the customers with his mercurial charm. In later life he was always the most gracious of hosts. In the 80’s Lance took more of a management role however, The Malaya’s true metamorphose came later in the 90’s.
Lance and his wife Givie took over the business in 1996 and moved it to its present location in a glass-fronted building on King Street Wharf.
Whilst the move to King Street wharf was a bold one, and there were many who doubted if it was altogether wise, Lance’s prescient that was soon rewarded. He was always positive and visionary.
The new venue quickly attracted many new and loyal followers. Most of the old gang, the advertising, marketing, production, and media drunks, together with students, crooks, journalists, bankers and detectives, found their way to this new underdeveloped part of the city, to break bread at Lance’s table. The Malaya was a mixing pot of the city’s food and culture.
‘‘We’ve always been true to our food,” Lance would say. ”Our Malay and Indonesian flavours haven’t changed. We have customers that have been coming in for 50 years and they still eat the same dishes.”
Farewell Lance, you will truly be missed.