This 2nd-Gen Baker Carries On The Legacy Of Her Family’s 70-Year-Old Handmade Mooncakes Biz
The Mid-Autumn Festival, better known as the Moon Cake Festival, is just around the corner.
Even though moon cakes with innovative flavors like truffle, champagne and durian have taken center stage in recent years, traditional counterparts still play a big part in the festivities.
The traditional moon cake is a simple affair. It usually has a deposit of red bean or lotus paste, with the option of salted egg yolk stuffed inside.
The traditional Tai Thong Cake Shop bakery still sees crowds of customers craving their moon cakes every year, despite having minimal online presence.
Other than a Facebook page, the brand doesn’t appear to have an online store or other social media channels.
“Everyone Agrees” on Tai Thong moon cakes
Tai Thong was founded in 1950 by a Cantonese pastry chef, Kwok Khim Wai, who came from Hong Kong during the war.
Tai Thong’s first store was located along 43 Mosque Street in Chinatown in the early 1950s.
It then moved a few doors to 35 Mosque Street in 1958, where it remains until today.
The Mosque Street store is now run by his daughter, Kwok Sow Lan.
In an interview with Our Grandfather Story, Sow Lan shared that the name of the bakery, Tai Thong, loosely translates to “everyone agrees” in Mandarin.
She joked that everyone agreed that Tai Thong makes delicious pastries, which is how her name was born.
From traditional wedding pastries to moon cakes – all handmade
Tai Thong Cake Shop specializes in traditional wedding pastries, which many Cantonese families fondly remember.
Although these pastries have faded from the scene in recent years, they were almost always present at weddings in the past.
It is customary for these pastries to be presented to the bride’s family and symbolize the groom’s gratitude to the parents of the bride.
Sow Lan said Tai Thong’s pastries appeal to all generations. Besides the traditional pastries, the bakery also sells cookies which are very popular with children.
Tai Thong’s pastries are handmade and “the working hours are long”.
A passion that remains unchanged over the years
When the original owner Khim Wai passed away, Sow Lan and his deceased younger brother took over the helm.
According to Sow Lan, his brother “devoted his whole life” to the business. She now runs the business to preserve her family’s legacy.
She believes that pastries, especially moon cakes, require traditional flavors and cooking methods to taste great.
So despite the fact that business is “tiring” and moon cakes are very “difficult” to make by hand, it persists every day.
After more than half a century, Tai Thong’s iconic brown paper bag still remains a staple with Singaporean families through various festivals.
“I hope I can continue to work… This is what we want,” said Sow Lan.
Featured Image Credit: Lifestartsonfriday and Burpple
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