Jimmy Eng, the owner and patriarch of Fresh Meadows’ King Yum, died on New Year’s Eve, and something died with him. King Yum’s GM, Jimmy Chen, says you’ll be able to sing karaoke and drink mai tais for many years to come, but beyond the tiki statues, the unreconstructed Cantonese-American menu, and the waiters in red jackets
toting spareribs under dragon lamps, the soul of the place was the ancient Eng.
He served egg rolls to four generations of Queens residents, and he “considered everyone in the restaurant his extended family,” says his daughter, Mimi Lam. Even into his late 80s, Eng moved through the dining room, flirting with the women, kidding the men, producing newspaper clips from his jacket pockets, and absorbing the adoration of the room. They don’t build places like King Yum anymore, and there aren’t any more Jimmy Engs. He will be missed.