Norfolk Noodle Factory

Photograph courtesy of Jenny Wong.
The Wong family in front of the first location of their noodle business, Norfolk Noodle Factory.                          Photograph courtesy of Jenny Wong.

In 1958, Park F. Wong, who immigrated to Norfolk, Virginia from China when he was a teenager, couldn’t find a buyer for the Sam Lee Noodle Company. He owned the building, and when their were no takers, he purchased it himself. Park didn’t know a thing about running a noodle business.

He changed the name to the Norfolk Noodle Factory, and for forty years, if a restaurant or customer needed yock noodles, one of the signature ingredients to yock-a-mein, this is where they went.

Park F. Wong. Photograph courtesy of Jenny Wong.
Park F. Wong. Photograph courtesy of Jenny Wong.

He worked alongside his family: his wife, Soon, his three sons David (who later owned Sun Noodle in Chesapeake, VA), Arthur, and Edward. And his youngest and only daughter, Jenny.

This summer, I visited Jenny at her home in Virginia Beach. She’s no longer in the noodle business, but she’s a brilliant watercolor artist.

She pulled out her beautiful family photo albums. She shared stories of how her parents met, about her memories of working in the business and wrapping yock noodles up like Christmas presents, and how her father used his engineer mind to make the business so successful.

You can listen to Jenny’s stories, read more from her interview, and look through her photographs by visiting her story from our new oral history project, Tidewater Virginia Yock.