Entrepreneur

This 2nd-Gen Baker Carries On The Legacy Of Her Family's 70-Year-Old Handmade Mooncakes Biz

The Mid-Autumn Festival, more colloquially known as the Mooncake Festival, is just around the corner.

Even though mooncakes that feature innovative flavours like truffle, champagne and durian have taken centrestage in recent years, traditional counterparts still play an important role in the festivities.

The traditional mooncake is a simple affair. It typically has a red bean or lotus paste filing, with the option of salted egg yolk stuffed inside.

Traditional bakery Tai Thong Cake Shop still sees throngs of customers hankering after their mooncakes each year, despite having a minimal online presence.

Besides a Facebook page, the brand does not seem to have an online store or other social media channels.

“Everyone Agrees” On Tai Thong’s Mooncakes

tai thong mooncakes
Tai Thong’s mooncakes/ Image Credit: Sylvie Kwok via Tai Thong’s Facebook page

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 back in the early 1950s.

It later moved a few doors down to 35 Mosque Street in 1958, where it remains till today.

The store at Mosque Street is now run by his daughter, Kwok Sow Lan.

In an interview with Our Grandfather Story, Sow Lan shared that the bakery’s name, Tai Thong, translates loosely to “everyone agrees” in Mandarin.

She joked that everyone agrees that Tai Thong makes delicious pastries, which was how its name came about.

From Traditional Wedding Pastries To Mooncakes — All Handmade

tai thong cake shop
Wedding pastries / Image Credit: Singapore Brides

Tai Thong Cake Shop specialises in traditional wedding pastries, which many Cantonese families fondly remember them for.

Though these pastries may have faded from the limelight in recent years, they were almost always present at weddings in the past.

It is customary for these pastries to be presented to the family of the bride, and is symbolic of the groom’s gratitude to the bride’s parents.

Sow Lan shared that the pastries at Tai Thong cater to all generations. Besides traditional pastries, the bakery also sells cookies that are a big hit with children.

The pastries at Tai Thong are made by hand, and “working hours are long”.

A Passion That Remains Unchanged Over The Years

tai thong cake shop paper bag
Tai Thong’s iconic paper bag / Image Credit: Chinatownology

When original owner Khim Wai passed on, both Sow Lan and her late younger brother took over the helm.

According to Sow Lan, her brother “spent a lifetime of effort” on the business. She is now running the business to keep her family’s legacy alive.

She believes that pastries, especially mooncakes, require traditional flavours and baking methods for it to taste good.

Thus despite, business being “tiring” and mooncakes being very “difficult” to hand make, she still persists on every day.

After more than half a century, Tai Thong’s iconic brown paper bag still remains a staple with Singaporean families throughout various festivals.

“I hope I can continue working… This is what we wish for,” said Sow Lan.

Featured Image Credit: Lifestartsonfriday and Burpple

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