Did Hong Kong's Iconic Jumbo Floating Restaurant Actually Sink?

There aren't many instances when travel eaters and conspiracy theorists get to enjoy an overlap of interest — but, if you fall into either (or both) of these categories, now is your time. International foodies visiting the Chinese coast might hit the Michelin-starred experimental Ultraviolet of Shanghai, but travel a little further to Hong Kong and you're sure to have run into the Jumbo Floating Restaurant. At least, if you visited pre-pandemic.

Earlier this month, Hong Kong's famous Jumbo Floating Restaurant was towed away from its longtime spot in Aberdeen Harbor to an undisclosed location. The restaurant closed in 2020 among the wave of hardship that swept establishments during the peak-COVID era. Then, just days after being towed, a shocking swoop of further tragedy struck –- Jumbo Kingdom (the 260-foot long, three-story structure modeled after an Imperial Chinese palace) reportedly sunk, via CNN. On Monday, Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises released an official statement informing the public of the incident; no employees were harmed, but the boat sank over 3,280 feet deep into the South China Sea, per the news outlet, which made restoration efforts a harrowing prospect.

Now, the plot thickens. A new update from Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises (per Bloomberg) says that, in fact, the establishment didn't sink at all.

Murky territory

On Friday, a spokesperson from Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises (ARE) released a statement retracting its Monday claim that Jumbo Kingdom sank, Bloomberg reports –- it just capsized. Since 2013, the restaurant experienced losses of around $12.7 million, and a lack of tourist traffic due to the pandemic drove the landmark further into financial hardship, says the news outlet.

However, the restaurant's owners could be operating under a different motivation. Failure to report and explain a massive sinking within 24 hours is a violation of city regulation, and could incur a penalty of HK$10,000, according to The Guardian. But, in ARE's original statement, the proprietors of the restaurant were reportedly vague about what caused the incident in the first place. Due to the somewhat ambiguous wording about what actually caused the original incident, it remains unclear whether or not the owners are at fault for claiming (or, not claiming) a definitive sinking.