SINGAPORE - Fans of the famous Kee Wah Bakery from Hong Kong will no longer have to wait for the Takashimaya Chinese New Year fair to enjoy its popular egg rolls and cookies. The family-owned brand is opening its first Singapore store at basement four of Ion Orchard in mid-November.
For the past 20 years, the bakery had operated pop-ups here at Chinese New Year and Mooncake Festival fairs organised by the Japanese department store in Ngee Ann City. It had also seen many Singaporeans patronising its stores in Hong Kong before borders closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Antony Wong, a third-generation owner and one of the company's executive directors, says that is why it picked the Republic to open its first directly-owned store in South-east Asia. Its products are sold in the Philippines and Malaysia but the company does not own the shops.
"We have a strong core of fans in Singapore. And over the years, many have been asking us when we will open a shop there," he says via a Zoom meeting from Hong Kong. "We feel Singaporeans have a penchant for finding and enjoying good food."
He adds that the family had been looking for a suitable location in Orchard Road for its flagship store here for about 15 years, but had been unsuccessful until recently.
The Ion Orchard store will stock about 100 of its full range of about 150 items, but Kee Wah's popular wife cake will not be one of them. For a start, everything will be flown in from Hong Kong about once a month and items with a short shelf life - such as the traditional flaky pastry with winter melon filling as well as egg tarts and char siew puffs - will not be included.
"We hope to eventually sell these when we can produce freshly-baked items in Singapore," says Mr Wong. "But because of Covid-19, there are too many challenges now to fly over a sifu." Sifu in Cantonese refers to a master baker.
Customers can still look forward to some of Kee Wah's other popular items like egg rolls, walnut cookies and pineapple pastry.
Kee Wah Bakery was started in 1938 as a small candy store in Yau Ma Tei in Hong Kong. It now operates about 60 shops there with a flagship store in Queen's Road East in Wan Chai that opened in 2019.
There are also about 40 stores outside Hong Kong in places such as China, Taiwan and California in the United States.
Kee Wah Bakery's Singapore store follows the opening of Hang Heung, another traditional Hong Kong bakery known for its wife cake, in July last year.
Joy Luck Teahouse, which brings in Hoover Cake Shop's egg tart and Kam Kee Cafe's bolo bun from Hong Kong, opened in August last year. Both are also located at Ion Orchard's basement four.