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Fresh Meadows restaurateur’s eatery a fixture for 50 years

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The restaurant has been something of a neighborhood institution since its inception in 1953, and Eng had been a fixture in the Polynesian-themed dining room and bar, serving up pupu platters and mai tais amid huge wall-mounted tiki masks since its earliest days.Eng and an uncle bought the space for $8,500 and built the restaurant up from a small, 52-seat space to its present-day size, which occupies a space three storefronts across, through hard work and perseverance. The restaurant was the Fresh Meadows' only Chinese eatery at the time.On King Yum's 50th anniversary, Eng told the TimesLedger that there were tough times in the beginning and he had nearly given up and sold the restaurant. Now its weekly Wednesday and Friday karaoke nights often draw crowds of 150 to 200 people who fill the main dining room.Eng died New Year's Eve at the age of 87. The cause was a heart attack, according to published reports.King Yum was closed Sunday for Eng's funeral at Ng Fook Funeral Home in Manhattan and Monday for the burial. Eng was buried at Brooklyn's Evergreen Cemetery after the procession carrying his casket drove down Union Turnpike past King Yum.Eng was born in Toishan, in China's Guangdong Province, and moved to the United States with his parents when he was 12. He taught himself English and never finished high school, but sent money home to Toishan to help build roads and schools, his daughter, Mimi Lam, told NewsdayThe family has requested that in lieu of flowers donations should be made to the New York Chinese School and the American Heart Association, according to a sign on the restaurant doors.Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at achristodoulides@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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