Aaron LANDAU (aka Jimmy) [1873-1947] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Aaron LANDAU (aka Jimmy) [1873-1947]

Alias / nickname: 
Birthplace (town, state): 
Jerusalem, Palestine

The China Mail, 1947-08-28, page 3:

 Funeral services were yesterday held at the Jewish Cemetery for the late Aaron ("Jimmy") Landau, in the presence of a large gathering of friends and relatives.

The Rev. Rabbi Elezer officiated at the chapel and at the graveside.

The chief mourners were the widow, Mrs A P Landau, Mr Leo Landau, Mrs Pauline Hughes, Inspector R Owen Hughes, Mr L Landau and Miss Dolores Hughes.



Photos that show this person



My grandparents Aaron and Amelia Landau came to Hong Kong in 1928 with 4 children…they had married in Shanghai in 1900 (Jewish Synagogue) and lived in India, Bombay and Calcutta (1901-1908) and in Bangkok (1908-1925) and then to China..Shanghai, Harbin and Tientsin…Aaron opened the first Jimmy’s kitchen in Shanghai in 1927…he had opened a small hotel in Bangkok in 1910 and named it after the famous Astor House hotel owned by Jewish family Kadoories whom he did work for from time to time…

My grandparents were Jewish..and poor..Aaron was born in Palestine (c.1870’s) near the modern city of Jaffa and my grandmother was born in Turkey around 1880’s..and with their families they moved to China ..

Jimmy’s Hong Kong was first opened in Wanchai 1928 and then moved to old China Building that was owned by the Ho Tung’s whom were kind to my grandfather and gave him a very cheap rent..

My grandmother was interned in China with her daughter, Polly and granddaughter  Dolores..you can see Dolores siting next to Leo in the Jimmy’s staff party photo.

Aaron Landau..my grandfather was fine in HK he had a Turkish passport..and was Jewish ,fortunately the Japanese did not persecute the Jews…but there are so many unanswered stories..

I've added dates of birth & death from his gravestone (https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=landau&GSiman=1&G...).

My grandfather lived for the last 20 years of his life with a Chinese lady Susie...I noticed that she was not at the wedding..they had a home together and my cousin Harry ( brother of Alexander ) who died as a little boy in HK ...remembers having tea at their home in 1945-7 with them...

Thank you Barbara Harding for that most interesting article on your family. Firstly didn't know that your grandmother was called Amelia and that both Polly and Dolores were in camp in Shanghai. My family (the Gabriels) escaped that fate as Grandpa David managed to get Polish papers for the whole family. At that time Poles were considered "friendly enemy aliens". My Grandfather Moishe Goldman on the other hand, lived in HongKew in Shanghai, which at the time was the poorest area to live. My Mum who was already married to Dad Eric, would bring food for Grandpa Moishe on a daily basis having to cross the Bridge into HongKew and bow VERY low to the Japanese guards. Beware the person who didn't bow low enough!!

I also didn't know that Aaron had a hotel, The Astor,  in Bangkok - I see that's why your Dad was born in Bangkok... I always wondered.

Also didn't know that the HoTungs owned China Building in Central and that's why Leo was able to maintain that great rent in a Pre-war building right up till the time they pulled it down and Jimmy's was relocated to Wyndham Street. So many wonderful memories for Jimmy's Central. Your father never spoke about his time in camp (Stanley and Shamshuipo) but i wish I had asked more questions.

If you have any more stories, it would be great to hear them.

I have promised to write a bit about my father HARRY ERIC GABRIEL (Gabruiller), ex HK and Shanghai  and will get to it soon. Dad kept a lot of photos and its a matter of going through those ancient sepia prints. Dad passed in 2005 at 91. Mum Reva passed in 2012 at 91 as well. My grandfather Moishe is buried in the Jewish Cemetry in HK in Shang Kwong Road.

Thanks again for a wonderful read.

Barbara Mackenzie

Thank you Barbara Mackenzie I remember your mother well...she was a marvellous woman...may she rest in piece. Leo Rievea and Eric were in the same primary school in China... Leo did talk about prison camp all the time..he had a diary that disappeared once he got sick.. I think when he was with your parents they talked about other things and they joked a lot.. all good wishes Barbara

The name "Leo Rivea" does not ring a bell at  all re: Dads primary school as I think he went to school in Harbin not Shanghai . On the other hand I think he did go to Russian school with Solomon Bard (Monia) as I have a photo somewhere of them both playing the Violin. Monia excelled at violin and Dad was pretty good and played in the HK Symphony either 1st or 2nd Violinist. 

Both My sister Laura and myself inherited our love of music from Dad and my Russian great grandfather and thanks to our wonderful Russian piano teacher ANNA NOZADZE in HK taught us to play the piano beautifully. I remember the lessons at her apt in Humphrey's Avenue TST and the yearly concerts at the Peninsula Hotel. Those were marvelous events.  Unfortunately neither of my children carried on the tradition but perhaps one of the grandchildren will. My grandson Samuel now 13 seems to have a musical ear! So who knows?

I came across this thread by chance.  Do you have any information about the Landau family when it was in Singapore in the 1890s?  Mordechai Landau appeared to have five chidren, Abraham, Ethel, Betty, Adolph (later Aaron) and Lina.  Ethel was my great grandmother.  Lina died very soon after her marriage and the others seemed to move to Shanghai before they and their families dispersed around the world.  In particular, Betty was a Landau but was she part of this family or related in some other way?  

Terry Hegarty

What I ment were 3 people...Leo, (rivea , your mother) and Eric...

but how interesting all this is...I didnt know about the Russian piano teacher or the occassions at the Peninsula hotel...I remember your grandfather..when he lived with you I think it was deep water bay..your grandfather was very old then..was he speaking Russian?

How ineresting the next letter about possibliy my grandfather's family in Singapore in 1900..

I have a photo of Emile, and baby Harry in Singapore around 1938

Yes we lived in Clearwater Bay Apts and my grandfather Moishe lived with us. He was a lovely old gentleman and had a shot of vodka and a cigar nearly everyday of his life! Bless him. He did not speak much English only Russian and Yiddish and I remember him fondly. It's a wonderful gift in life to grow up with Grandparents. Very special. 

I commented on my piano teacher Mrs. Nozadze because she was Nona Parks grandmother and there was a wonderful article she wrote recently about her family with some great photos.

Being part of a Russian household also meant  that I did Ballet with Carol Bateman at the Helena May and every Sunday morning our home was filled with music  - mostly Opera or Dads favourite composers. I still love classical music (Dad said it improved your brain power!) but also have eclectic taste in modern music. I still LOVE to dance tho!!

Also fascinated to learn that your family was in Singapore in the 1890's. That gentleman who wrote the above piece sounds like he is definitely related to you, Barbara. How amazing!!!

Thank you Terry

there could not have been many Landau's in South East Asia in th e19th century..

it would all depend on dates..my grandparents Aaron and Amelia were married in Shanghai in 1900-1901.. Arron was almost 30 years old at the time..

i had always thought that Aaron was born in Jaffa and Amelia in Constinapople ..and wondered how Jewish kids would have gone to China to marry..it did not add up..as Amelia was around 19 years old...so the Europe connection may have gone back another generation...or Arron and Aldolp were not the same person...but I think they were..how very interesting ...are you in Asia or Europe now..we would be third cousins"

yes..I rember your grandfather..at Clear water bay..and especially at the Jewish club in Robinson road..he was a kind man..your mother was always looking after him...

we did not speak a word of Yiddish...I don't think the Landau's did..maybe they had been in Asia too many generations...the Helena May I remember..next to the Botanical gardens..did ballet a couple of times...my cousin Vonnick was much more interested than I.


My mother was born in Shanghai and married an Englishman.  She was born in 1911, a couple of years before Leo, I think, but she was one generation down on Leo, being Mordechai's great granddaughter, whereas Leo was his grandson. So that makes us second cousins once removed, I reckon?!

They left China just as the troubles started in 1937 and moved to the UK.  She remarked at one time about the Landau connection with pineapples in Singapore and I started to investigate that a year ot two ago, relying mainly on the Singapore on-line newspaper archive and other sources. It is a fascinating story, and reflects the comment in "Jimmy's" cookbook that "The Landau family history is confused and confusing".  My guess is that in the 1860s the family (Mordechai plus five children) were in Russian Poland, they moved to Constantinople in the 1870s and then to Singapore by 1889.  The three Landau men were involved in the growing and canning of pineapples through the 1890s when the industry was beginning to take off in Singapore, but ironically they eventually all went bankrupt and left the country.  Adolph went to Shanghai, did various things in different places but ended up back in Shanghai on the wrong side of the law in relation to running a gambling den.  That was in the late 1920s.   Until then he was always referred to as Adolph.  He then seems to have re-invented himself, adopted the name Aaron and moved to Hong Kong with the Jimmy's Kitchen concept - with considerable success.

If you are interested in more detail I suggest we communicate by email - possibly using david@gwulo.com as an intermediary to exchange adddresses - if he is willing.

hi Terry

we must meet up..let David give us each our email addresses..

i remember Leo talking about the pineapple canning business...

i can imagine my grandfather reinventing himself..and also Aldof was not a name a Jew would like to have.

we live in central London..we spend a good deal of the winters in Asia ...

all good wishes


Dear Barbara and Terry

I am simply loving this thread and finding it fascinating. 

My grandfather David Gabruiller did also talk about having a small restaurant (could have been a bar?) across the road from Aaron Landau in Shanghai. They were friendly rivals and would exchange banter across the street. That's why it was so extraordinary that years later  ( 1969?) when Neil opened Kowloon Jimmys in J. Hotung House, Hankow Road it was the EXACT spot where Grandpa David and Grandma Hannah had their "David's Cafeteria) in the 1930's. They had come to HK circa 1932 so that Dad Eric could learn English at the Central British School in Nathan Rd. (Now KGV)

I now forget the name of Jimmy's Accountants but that's where he played the piano all those years ago. In our Restaurant. 

Fascinating stuff! 



I've just sent an email to put Terry & Barbara in touch. But please keep us updated on what you discover, as it is a fascinating story.

If you can add any more about Olga and Carol Bateman, please could you leave a comment on their pages? I'm interested to know if they were related, and whether Carol Bateman was also part of the Russian community.

Kowloon Jimmys was opened around 1967..by Leo..we all had shares in the buiness..it was the second resturant of Jimmys ...and your ex-husband was the manager for many years and then owned it with Pter Schilf from about 1986..when the Landau's sold out..to them.

Wahtever happened to Doloras , Leo's niece??? 

Leo and Eric were great friends..and didn't they open a shop  in Hong Kong around Wyndam street selling Jewish sausages?  That must have been around 1980..

Were your parents Eric and Rieve in camp too? or was Eric able to get these Polish papers..my grandfather Aaron had some Turkish papers or passport or something ..so as Leo once said he was a tolorated old man..the Japanese more or less left alone..

And of course there were the Boders ...he was from China and then HK..

Stories half remembered and of course us old ladies are the last memories of those times..

Barbara Landau Harding

Dear Barbara (Landau),

Thank you for adding to our knowledge of your family's history. You may not be aware that the Jewish Historical Society of HK has set up some pages for the five members of your family who are buried in the Jewish cemetery in Happy Valley.


We would love to add to our knowledge of them. If you don't mind, please get in touch. I can be contacted through the JHS website. Thanks!

Howard Elias

Dear Barbara,

Thank you for your submission on your grandparents, which I found fascinating.

I am writing a PhD thesis on the history of Jewish refugees in Hong Kong and have found that Aaron hired a number of refugees in his Hong Kong restaurants (Jimmy's Kitchen and the Parisian Grill) as a humanitarian gesture. I have also found a number of records on Mr. Landau that may be of interest to you. I'd love to speak to you in person about this history as I am also based in the UK. If you are happy to be in touch, please could you contact me via The Hong Kong Heritage Project's email address which is: enquiry@hongkongheritage.org

Thank you!

Kind regards,


Aaron's naturalisation certificate is in the UK National Archive, reference HO 334/253/2183. It has the following information:

Date 29 April 1938
Full name Aaron Landau
Address Rutton Building, 7 Duddell Street, Hong Kong
Trade or Occupation Restaurant keeper
Place and date of birth Jerusalem, Palestine; 18th October, 1873
Nationality No nationality
Single, married, etc. Married
Name of wife Emily Landau (nee Bander)
Names and nationality of parents Marco Landau, father (deceased); Turkish nationality
Bella Landau (nee Perlstein), mother (deceased); Turkish nationality