The Devastating Death Of LA Restaurateur Madame Wu

Madame Wu's Garden opened on Wilshire Boulevard in West Hollywood, California, in 1959, according to KCET. Sylvia Wu was then 44 years old, a mother of three children. She told her husband, King Yan Wu, that she wanted to open a Chinese restaurant, both so she'd have something to occupy her time and also because she believed she could do better than the Chinese restaurants of the day, which typically served up poor quality, Americanized versions of food that didn't reflect the cuisine she'd enjoyed watching servants prepare during her privileged upbringing in China.

The restaurant, much to King's surprise, was an instant success. For decades, Madame Wu, always elegantly attired and gracious, served Cantonese and other regional Chinese fares often adapted to suit her well-heeled American clientele. And oh, what clientele she attracted!

Madame Wu's Garden relocated to a larger space on Wilshire Boulevard in 1968 in order to accommodate up to 300 guests, all in a tasteful, evocative setting, complete with a waterfall, murals, and a koi pond (via LA Times). Celebrities who favored Madame Wu's renowned restaurant included Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Paul Newman, Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, Ronald Reagan, Mae West, who adored Madame Wu's bird's nest soup, and Princess Grace of Monaco, who was reportedly a fan of Madame Wu's Peking duck. Madame Wu's Garden closed in 1998.

Madame Sylvia Wu passed away on September 29, 2022

The LA Times reported on October 1, 2022, that on September 29, Madame Wu had passed away at the age of 106. She leaves behind two sons, George and Patrick, and numerous grandchildren. She was predeceased by her daughter, Loretta, and her husband, King. Madame Wu's legacy is that of a graceful, talented, versatile restaurateur, author of two cookbooks, and tireless worker for charitable causes.

The late Merv Griffin once described Madame Wu to the LA Times as "One of the dearest, sweetest, most elegant women I've ever known." KCET painted a picture of Madame Wu that depicts a stunning woman with business acumen, an impressive work ethic, and a personal touch her patrons appreciated. From the shredded chicken salad she created especially for Cary Grant to her eye-catching Silver Cloud Rolls-Royce (vanity plates reading MME WU, natch), Madame Wu was an icon who remained active and vibrant long after her retirement.