Living heritage of Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s iconic Jumbo Floating Restaurant to be given a facelift

Owner Melco International is planning to revamp the famous eatery that has welcomed royalty and film stars over the past four decades

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 October, 2017, 3:11pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 October, 2017, 10:45pm

Monarchs and film stars are among the millions of diners to have sampled its palatial ambience and feasted on its sumptuous Chinese banquet. It’s even appeared in a few movies itself.

And now it’s time for Hong Kong’s famous Jumbo Floating Restaurant to get a facelift, according to the owner, Melco International Development.

“Last time we had a major refurbishment was 15 years ago. Jumbo is one of the iconic structures in Hong Kong. We are looking at potentially revamping, doing a total revitalisation,” said chairman Lawrence Ho Yau-lung.

The restaurant is one of two housed within the waterborne Jumbo Kingdom in Aberdeen, on the south side of Hong Kong Island, the other being the Tai-Pak.

Jumbo Kingdom is run by Melco’s subsidiary, Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises.

In March, the company sold the 509-space car park that serves guests of the Jumbo Kingdom for more than HK$500 million (US$64 million). It is from these proceeds that the refurbishment will be paid for, Ho said.

The sale of the car park triggered speculation that Melco, the casino, hospitality and entertainment firm with businesses in Macau, Manila and Cyprus, might be planning to close the restaurants.

Ho put paid to such speculation.

“We live in Hong Kong, we are headquartered in Hong Kong. Jumbo holds a special place in my heart,” he said.

Without providing details of the renovation plan, Ho added: “We have been looking at it a couple of years but that will involve a lot of discussion with the government.”

The Jumbo Floating Restaurant was established in October 1976 by Ho’s father, the Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun.

Built in the style of a Ming Dynasty palace, the interior and exterior of the restaurants were painstakingly handcrafted over a period of four years. Among the notable features of the Jumbo Floating Restaurant are the handmade giant fresco and the “Dragon chair”.

The neighbouring Tai Pak Floating Restaurant was bought by Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises in 1987. Since then Jumbo Kingdom has become the group name of the partnering restaurants.

Jumbo has attracted many celebrities over the past four decades. They include Queen Elizabeth II, Hollywood royalty in the form of stars like Tom Cruise and Gwyneth Paltrow, and Hong Kong actors such as Chow Yun-fat.

The two restaurants appear in a number of popular movies including Jackie Chan’s The Protector (1985), the Japanese science fiction film Godzilla vs Destoroyah (1995) and Hong Kong crime thriller Infernal Affairs II (2003).

In 2003, a HK$35 million renovation transformed the loss-making Jumbo and Tai Pak floating restaurants into a complex containing shops, bars, speciality food stalls and a fishing village museum.

Last November staff had to be evacuated from the restaurant after a barge connected to the rear and used to store seafood began letting in water and sank one metre.