After setting up two pop-up stalls and a four-month-old takeaway kiosk at Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Tai Cheong Bakery from Hong Kong opens its first restaurant today at Holland Village.
The 60-seat eatery at 31 Lorong Liput sells its popular baked goods such as its signature egg tart ($1.90), coconut tart ($2.50) and chicken pie ($2.80), as well as a new durian and cheese tart ($3.60) - created for Singapore and sold exclusively at the restaurant.
Diners can also have a taste of Hong Kong with cha chaan teng dishes such as three-coloured silky eggs with rice ($8.90); three-egg macaroni soup with luncheon meat ($8.50); scrambled egg toast stack ($6.50) and French toast ($6.50).
Tai Cheong's arrival in Singapore is through a collaboration between Hong Kong restaurant group Tao Heung Group and Food People, a subsidiary of Palm Beach Group.
Palm Beach is best known for its Palm Beach Seafood Restaurant at One Fullerton and Yee Cheong Yuen Noodle Restaurant, which is located next to Tai Cheong Bakery at Holland Village. Tao Heung, which acquired Tai Cheong in 2007, operates 164 restaurants and bakery shops in Hong Kong and China. Its brands include Pier 88, Hak Ka Hut and Cheers Restaurant.
The deal was sealed last year after two quick meetings between Food People director Han Jin Juan and Tao Heung chairman Chung Wai Ping.
Mr Han, 63, a long-time fan of Tai Cheong and a good friend of Mr Chung's, says: "We did the pop-up concepts first to see the response from Singaporeans. If we do well with the restaurant, we can consider expansion, but not at this point. It's about maintaining the quality. There's no point in opening a lot if the standard is not good."
The Singapore pop-up stalls in March and May drew long queues. At its peak, Tai Cheong sold more than 4,000 tarts a day, comparable with the amount sold in Hong Kong. In Singapore, the tart shells are made at a factory and filled and baked on site.
To reduce waiting time for takeaway items at the restaurant, there will be an SMS system to notify customers when their orders are ready.
Tai Cheong master chef Au Yeung Tin-Yun, 67, is in town for the restaurant's opening, along with Mr Chung, Tao Heung chief executive Eric Leung and Ms Joe Ng, Tao Heung's director of business management.
The jovial chef has become synonymous with the brand in Hong Kong, which was established in 1954 at Lyndhurst Terrace in Central by his uncle. Tai Cheong now has 25 outlets in Hong Kong, one of which is a dine-in restaurant focusing on Western dishes.
Chef Au Yeung started training under his uncle at the age of nine and took over the bakery in 1982, when he was 33. He kept the family recipe for the egg tart, but improved on it with a buttery cookie crust, instead of the traditional shortcrust pastry for the tart shells.
He says proudly in Cantonese: "The tarts have a smooth texture, the surface is glossy and maintains its shine after baking. The filling doesn't sink after being out for a long time and, when you eat it, the pastry doesn't stick to your throat."
•Tai Cheong Bakery at 31 Lorong Liput opens from 8.30am to 11pm (Sundays to Thursdays) and 8.30 to 1am (Fridays, Saturdays and eves of public holidays).
For a peek at the new outlet, go to http://str.sg/4MiM