Ying Jing Ma, whose singular cooking in an erstwhile Taco Bell in Overland won him devoted customers and critical acclaim, died Aug. 4.
Ma was 59. The cause of death was not available.
The Hong Kong native made his name in St. Louis with Chef Ma’s Chinese Gourmet Restaurant, which opened in 2015 at 2336 Woodson Road, a former Taco Bell building that has since housed several independent restaurants.
In the restaurant’s original location, a photograph of Ma in crisp chef’s whites overlooked the small dining room. His menu featured both regional Chinese dishes — Hainan chicken rice was a signature item — and American Chinese fare.
Ma’s cooking drew praise from St. Louis food media. Among its plaudits, Chef Ma’s was a four-time STL 100 honoree.
He attracted national attention, too.
In January 2016, Time Out named Chef Ma’s one of the country’s 17 best Chinese restaurants alongside such noted establishments as Chengdu Taste in Los Angeles and Yank Sing in San Francisco. The New York Post republished Time Out’s list.