RIP Sir David Tang

Tang was colorful, creative, controversial and, on occasion, crude. He would be happy to read the lively and very nice obituaries describing his generally successful, extraordinary and useful life. Reading them made me regret that, during the many years we overlapped in Hong Kong, I never took advantage of opportunities to get acquainted. I did, however, always admire his imaginative establishment of Hong Kong’s China Club, which my wife and I regard as a living work of art. It is tastefully decorated in a style that has more than a whiff of old Shanghai, enhanced by many striking paintings by contemporary Chinese artists who emerged from the depths of the Cultural Revolution, and the faux library on the third floor is a gem. The food is good, the attractive bar a fine place to drink and the quiet congee breakfasts ideal for serious talk. It lacks the vibrancy of the Foreign Correspondents Club’s first floor but has been a terrific addition to Central’s social life.

Tang followed this Hong Kong restaurant success with an imaginative effort to transform a traditional Beijing courtyard mansion into another classic watering hole. While interesting and handsome, it never seemed to equal Hong Kong’s China Club.