Wo Fat Building


Nadja Arndt

Leonard Freeman, who created Hawaii Five-0, named the chief master criminal after a Chinese restaurant in downtown Honolulu. Although its full name was Wo Fat Chop Sui, everyone called it simply Wo Fat’s.


It opened for business in 1882 and remained in business until 2009. Twice, the building burned. Twice, it was rebuilt. It was redecorated in 1938 in a blend of the then-popular art deco style and Chinese design.


After Wo Fat’s closed, the ground floor became a supermarket, while the upper level became a venue for concerts, then a gallery, and finally, a nightclub. The building was on the market multiple times before it sold in 2019 for $4 million. Plans are underway to renovate the building as a restaurant and hotel as part of an effort to rejuvenate Chinatown.


Wo Fat, the criminal, was portrayed from the pilot episode through the series finale by Khigh Dhiegh. He was born Kenneth Dickerson in Spring Lake, New Jersey, on August 25, 1910. He appeared in The Manchurian Candidate with Frank Sinatra, How to Murder Your Wife with Jack Lemmon, and Seconds with Rock Hudson, among many other productions during a forty-year career. He passed away in Mesa, Arizona, on October 25, 1991.

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