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On a trip to Ipoh last year, I dropped by a bakery named Yohan Cake House. It has been around for almost 42 years, and I was told by some locals that it was a well-established brand.

The local haunt is best known for its eye-catching Tiger Skin Cake, named to reference the patterned skin that circles the cake. Cutting into it, its cross-section showcases a vibrant three-by-three grid comprising different colours and flavours.

Looking up the cake house online, I was surprised to find that there hasn’t been much coverage about its story. So, of course, we reached out to the team to learn more.

According to the team, the founder, named Lim Ryh Haur, had gained his baking chops from a hotel, where he was trained under a Western baker.

Image Credit: Yohan Cake House

Leveraging his skills, Lim established Yohan Cake House in 1982. But the team revealed that the business actually gained more popularity in recent years compared to back then, growing it into a must-visit in Ipoh today.  

Traditional cake purveyors

Today, Yohan Cake House is being run by the second generation.

Traditional cakes, the team explained, mainly use butter cream, whereas “modern” cakes have mostly switched over to fresh cream.

Yohan Cake House also said that for their sort of traditional cakes, the method of baking is usually steaming.

Today, the bakery is also known for its Nyonya Steam Pandan Cake and its Cempedak Cake. But aside from those, they offer flavours such as pandan yam and butter black sesame too.

Image Credit: Yohan Cake House

They’ve also introduced butter cake, marble butter cake, and even a Japanese fluffy cheese cake.

Although the business is huge on tradition, they’re also not afraid to introduce new flavours. The latest one was durian, which the team said actually garnered quite a lot of interest amongst customers.

To top it all off, they do a variety of birthday cakes too.

Growing into three outlets

Since 1982, Yohan Cake House has grown to three outlets, all within relatively close distances.

Image Credit: Yohan Cake House

For the other outlets, the team admitted that they do not remember when each was opened, but the reasoning was simple: “The kitchen was unable to handle all the orders.”

In any case, opening three locations in the Ipoh area is quite the feat. There’s a main branch on Jalan Datuk Onn Jaafar where the central kitchen is, a location in Ipoh Garden, and then one in Gunung Rapat.

Yohan Cake House’s creations have also set foot in Penang and KL before, but these were mainly for collaborative projects.

Image Credit: Yohan Cake House

Outside of those projects, the team doesn’t seem to have many plans on expansion. Rather, they would much rather focus on sustaining what they already have.  

On a mission to maintain quality

But how does Yohan Cake House maintain relevance? Nowadays, it seems like the trend lies in fancy pastries and fine cakes. Last year, it seemed like small “bento cakes” was the trend. With that in mind, it feels like there’s not much room left for traditional cakes.

Image Credit: Yohan Cake House

When I mentioned this, though, the cake house staff told me, “You are wrong. Traditional cakes have become the style now.”

The reasoning, they believe, is because these cakes have become nostalgia-inducing products that those growing up in the 70s and 80s will reminisce.

And because there are less businesses selling these cakes nowadays, Yohan Cake House has become one of the go-to names offering them.

Image Credit: Yohan Cake House

Something you might be wondering, though, is where the name “Yohan” comes from. Well, the answer we got to that was, “We don’t know”.

But what they do know is that their mission is to maintain the genuine taste of their cakes. As such, quality is always top of mind, which may also explain why the team doesn’t have plans of rapid expansion in mind.

“Tradition never goes out of style,” they shared. “We still use recipes from 40 years ago and believe that taste is what makes customers come back.”

  • Learn more about Yohan Cake House here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about F&B businesses here.

Featured Image Credit: Yohan Cake House

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)