If you want to know how Hong Kong people become rich, just think of the board game Monopoly.
The goal is to become rich by buying property. Once you become rich, you buy more properties.
Such is the case with Tam Chak-kwan, boss of Tam Chai Yunnan Mixian (operator of a chain of rice noodle shops), which is now owned by Japanese noodle restaurant franchise Toridoll Holdings.
On Valentine’s Day, Tam and his wife Yau Mei Fung paid HK$168 million for a 4,015 square foot house at No. 62 Begonia Road, Kowloon Tong. The couple bought it through a private tender by developer China Overseas Land & Investment at HK$41,841 per square foot.
The Tams seem to bide their time when it comes to investing or enjoying the fruit of their investment.
In May last year, Tam sold his noodle shop chain for HK$1 billion. Many were astounded by the high price tag, especially when one considers its humble product, an affordable but very healthy bowl of mixian.
Indeed, the deal presented an inspiring story of local entrepreneurship.
The Tam Chai noodle shop franchise has a colorful history that can be traced to a rich Hunan family whose assets were confiscated during the Cultural Revolution.
The family moved to Hong Kong to start a new life. In 1996 three of the Tam brothers opened a noodle shop in Cheung Sha Wan.
Offering a fare that combines the spicy Sichuan style of cooking with mixian (a type of rice noodle from Yunnan province), the restaurant soon gained popularity, thanks to word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied customers, including some celebrities.
But with success came problems. One of the brothers left the group to establish his own business, Tam Jai Sam Gor Mixian, while a fifth brother joined the original group.
But as fate would have it, the brothers reunited after Toridoll also acquired Tam Jai Sam Gor Mixian for HK$1.11 billion at the end of last year.
Now both brothers can enjoy their retirement, their entrepreneurial undertakings having been amply rewarded. But, of course, they may still miss the days of labor in their steamy mixian kitchen.
I wonder, would they become neighbors again?
When Japanese Udon meets Tam’s Mixian
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