Jumbo Kingdom: The inside story of Aberdeen's famous floating restaurant

Jumbo Kingdom: The inside story of Aberdeen's famous floating restaurant

What do Tom Cruise, Chow Yun-fat and Queen Elizabeth II have in common? They have all visited Jumbo Kingdom, Aberdeen's iconic floating restaurant. A popular spot on most tourist itineraries and reached only by boat, Jumbo Kingdom has recently had a multi-million-dollar makeover and is a feast for the eyes as well as the tummy.

It is an end of an era: Jumbo Restaurant Hong Kong sinks.

Jumbo Kingdom: The inside story of Aberdeen's famous floating restaurant

Its decor takes inspiration from Chinese imperial palaces, with visitors welcomed by golden dragons and staff in traditional costume. Tables are arranged over three floors, with the ground floor housing fine-dining dim sum fusion restaurant Dragon Court and a larger banquet restaurant on the top two floors. The roof - which once housed Top Deck, a popular alfresco brunch spot that closed in 2003 - has also been renovated and will soon be available for private functions.

The food is mainly Cantonese with plenty of seafood, which seems appropriate given the fishing harbour location. A signature dish is flamed drunken shrimp, with shrimps flambeed in Chinese rose wine at the table.

Jumbo Kingdom: The inside story of Aberdeen's famous floating restaurant

The brainchild of tycoon Stanley Ho, the Jumbo had a baptism of fire. In October 1971, a few days before its grand opening, the finishing touches were being applied to what was to be Hong Kong's largest floating restaurant when sparks from a welder landed on some highly flammable trimming and set it alight. Within minutes, the boat was aflame. With no firefighting equipment on board, the fire engulfed the Jumbo restaurant and 34 people died.

The burned-out hull sat in Aberdeen Harbour for months until a four-year rescue operation began to completely reconstruct it in even grander style. The revamped Jumbo finally opened to the public in 1976.

It may be the largest, but it's not the only floating restaurant in Aberdeen. Moored right next to it is the venerable Tai Pak, which was built in 1957 and seats more than 400 guests. Its resplendent dining area featured in major films including 1955 romance Love is a Many-Splendored Thing and Bruce Lee's acclaimed Enter the Dragon. (A third floating restaurant, The Sea Palace, appears in the 1974 James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun, along with the wreck of the Queen Elizabeth in the harbour.)

Opens Monday to Saturday, 11:00AM - 11:30PM
Sunday 9:00AM - 11:30PM

Reached by free ferry from Shum Wan Pier Drive, Wong Chuk Hang, 2553 9111

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