The Mid-Autumn Festival, known colloquially as the Mooncake Festival, is just around the corner.
Although mooncakes with innovative flavors like truffles, champagne and durian have been the focus of attention in recent years, traditional counterparts still play a major role in the celebrations.
The traditional moon cake is a simple proposition. It usually has a red bean or lotus paste tray with the option of adding salted egg yolks to it.
At the traditional Tai Thong Cake Shop bakery, many customers yearn for their mooncakes even though they have minimal online presence.
Aside from a Facebook page, the brand doesn't seem to have an online shop or other social media channels.
"Everyone agrees" on Tai Thong's mooncakes
Tai Thong's Mooncakes / Photo credit: Sylvie Kwok via Tai Thong's Facebook page
Tai Thong was founded in 1950 by a Cantonese pastry chef, Kwok Khim Wai, who was from Hong Kong during the war.
Tai Thong's first store was at 43 Mosque Street in Chinatown in the early 1950s.
It later moved a few doors down to 35 Mosque Street in 1958, where it remains to this day.
The shop on 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, is loosely translated in Mandarin as “everyone agrees”.
She joked that everyone agrees that Tai Thong makes delicious pastries, which is how its name came about.
From traditional wedding cakes to moon cakes – everything is handmade
Wedding cookies / Photo credit: Singapore Brides
The Tai Thong Cake Shop specializes in traditional wedding pastries that many Cantonese families fondly remember.
Although these pastries may have gone from the spotlight in recent years, in the past they have almost always been present at weddings.
It is customary for these pastries to be presented to the bride's family and it is a symbol of the groom's gratitude to the bride's parents.
Sow Lan announced that the pastries in Tai Thong are suitable for all generations. In addition to traditional pastries, the bakery also sells cookies that are very popular with children.
The pastries in Tai Thong are made by hand and the working hours are long.
A passion that has remained unchanged over the years
Tai Thong's Iconic Paper Bag / Image Credit: Chinatownology
When the original owner Khim Wai passed away, both Sow Lan and her late younger brother took over the helm.
According to Sow Lan, her brother "spent a lifetime" in the business. She now runs the business to keep her family legacy alive.
She believes that pastries, especially moon cakes, require traditional flavors and baking methods in order to taste great.
Although the business is “exhausting” and the 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 is still a staple food for Singaporean families at various festivals.
"I hope I can keep working … We wish so," said Sow Lan.
Selected image source: Lifestartsonson Friday and Burpple