THE Pearl Dragon Restaurant was created through the hard work of founder Yeun Yeung, who grew up in poverty in China.

His son Steve Yeung detailed the life of his late father Yeun, born in 1929, who lived in a mud hut without running water or electricity.

He opened the Pearl Dragon in 1978 and the restaurant serves authentic Chinese cuisine. They have two chefs, one of which cooks only the popular dim sum dishes and a specially designed oven shipped from China that makes the pork extra crispy.

“The restaurant’s story is really my father’s story. He was born into poverty, but he was a hard worker. He built the only road out of his village and built the well,” Steve said.

“He moved to Hong Kong where he met my mother, Tsang, known to everyone as ‘Ms. Yeung’. My father never forgot where he came from and gave a lot of money to charities charities to support the village over the years and returned when he could.

Enduring Legacy – Yuen and Tsang

Steve’s father came to the UK alone to save enough money for his wife and five children to relocate.

He was a waiter in China Town in London by day and a delivery driver by night. When Yeun saved up enough money, he opened a Chinese restaurant in Romford, called Silver City and one of the same name in Rayleigh, which has since been sold.

Steve said Yeun, who died in 2000, loved the restaurant.

“We are trying, in a way, to keep the legacy alive and to continue to support my father’s village,” he said.

“His restaurant was his pride and joy. It’s important to us that people feel welcome and we have a lot of local Chinese who come here, especially for Sunday lunch.

Steve’s father was a founding member and served two terms as Chairman for the South East Essex Chinese Community and on his retirement was honored as Honorary Lifetime Chairman for his grassroots work.

“He helped set up a local Chinese language school for local residents to ensure that our language and culture is passed on from generation to generation. This continues to this day,” Steve said.

Echo: Team Friendly - Steve (fifth from left) and Team Pearl DragonFriendly Team – Steve (fifth from left) and Pearl Dragon Team

Chinese culture is important to Steve and his family and they were part of a short film called Parallel by Rosanna Lee which was shown on the Big Screen Southend at the Focal Point Gallery from March to June this year.

“It was about the younger generation who don’t know the language and can’t communicate with the older Chinese generation. However, they still have the language of food to connect them,” he said.

“It’s something we see all the time here. Families come for their Sunday lunch and the children say something and the parents say it in Chinese pigeon to the grandmother. However, the children can say the name of food in Chinese and they can spend that special time together.