22 April 2019
Walter Kwok was behind some of the most successful gourmet restaurants in town. Photo: HKEJ
Walter Kwok was behind some of the most successful gourmet restaurants in town. Photo: HKEJ

Walter Kwok left behind an empire of gourmet restaurants

His father left him a business empire but his mother later took it back. His father arranged him a marriage he did not like and his mother tried everything to fend off the one he truly loved. He was abducted by a notorious gangster and held for almost a week before his family paid a huge ransom.

Walter Kwok Ping-sheung, the former chairman of Sun Hung Kai Properties (1990-2008) who died on Saturday at the age of 68, spent a decade engaging in a bitter boardroom fight with other members of his family, one of the wealthiest in Hong Kong.

But in the end, his family – including his younger brothers with whom he had been feuding – was there at his bedside before he breathed his last.

His life was stormy, even unhappy at times. But looking at the bright side, food was one of the most pleasant aspects of his life.

In fact, aside from helping build the No. 1 property developer in the city, he also left behind an empire of gourmet restaurants.

It is said that Walter Kwok found comfort in fine dining. Indeed, those who knew him well acknowledged him as the best gastronome among his fellows.

His restaurants – Inagiku (Japanese cuisine), Sabatini (Italian), Le Soleil (Vietnamese), Royal Garden Chinese Restaurant and Beijing Dong Lai Shun – all made it to The Best Restaurants of 2018 by Hong Kong Tatler.

Sun Hung Kai Properties now runs these restaurants. But even after giving up control of these establishments, he pursued his love for good food. He formed a joint venture to take over Shanghai Lu Yang Cun Restaurant at the World Trade Centre in Causeway Bay.

His favorite drink at Sabatini, we were told, was an off-menu beverage that mixed fresh orange juice with Coca-Cola.

I enjoy this black-and-orange concoction, which is decent yet affordable. It always reminds me of a special tycoon who used to enjoy it. Cheers, Walter.

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EJ Insight writer

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