Around 7 a.m. on June 14, a dozen tugboats came in Hong Kong’s Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter, off the southwest part of the island, to tow away Jumbo Kingdom seafood restaurant.
Locals gathered around the shore to bid farewell to the floating restaurant.
The 260-foot-long three-story Jumbo Floating Restaurant was known for its massive green and red neon sign that said “foon ying gwong lam,” which means “welcome” in Chinese. It used to be a component of the world’s largest floating restaurant.
It was the main boat of Jumbo Kingdom for nearly half a century, together with the older and smaller sister restaurant boat Tai Pak (which dates back to 1952), a barge storing seafood tanks, a 130-foot-long kitchen boat, and eight tiny ferries that transported visitors from two neighbouring piers.
Jumbo Floating Restaurant was the only one of the group’s restaurants that was open to diners in recent years.
The corporation that owns and manages Jumbo Kingdom, Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises Limited, announced in a statement made after the towing was completed, “Jumbo Floating Restaurant has left Hong Kong today.”
“Jumbo Floating Restaurant has proudly existed in the Southern District of Hong Kong Island for the past 46 years, a unique emblem for residents and tourists alike.” It has been a wonderful privilege for us to share magnificent collective memories with local and international guests during this trip. Thank you all so much for your love and concern. “We would like to take this occasion to express our best wishes for a better future,” the message said.
A Floating Marvel
The restaurant ship appeared in a number of local and foreign films during its heyday, including Bruce Lee’s “Enter the Dragon,” “Spider-Man: The Dragon’s Challenge,” and Stephen Chow’s comedy “God of Cookery.”
Visiting celebrities such as Queen Elizabeth II and the late Prince Philip, Jimmy Carter, Chow Yun Fat, Elizabeth Taylor, and Tom Cruise made it a “must” destination.
“A restaurant of this size on a floating structure is unheard of anywhere else on the planet. It reflects Hong Kong’s intimate relationship with the sea and its history with it “Architect and founder of Hong Kong Architectural History, Charles Lai, states
“Some dismissed its architectural importance as it was only a ‘faux’ imperial design but I disagree — it’s an interesting attempt at transforming a floating space into an ancient Chinese palace. If we look at the historical context, it was built at a time when this imperial-style Chinese aesthetic wasn’t even encouraged in China (“Old Things” were to be removed during the Cultural Revolution). So Jumbo Kingdom reflected how Chinese in Hong Kong then had a greater yearning or passion for these old Chinese traditions.”