06 Sep 2019
Ronald and Iris Kung, part-owners of Hong Kong Flaky Lotus.
Family recipes are a way of remembering the past and are usually passed down through generations. In some cases, they are shared with friends and even translated into business ventures to keep the tradition alive.
For Ronald Kung, this is how his family-run business, Hong Kong Flaky Lotus, came to be.
The chance to produce authentic Hong Kong baked goods arose when a family friend in Hong Kong who owned a bakery chain wanted to pass on their recipes to the Kung family.
At the time, Ronald’s family already had several neighbourhood bakeries in Singapore selling cakes, pastries and other confectionary items. Opening another bakery was a similar endeavour, yet held much more meaning to the young baker. “It would have been a wasted opportunity if I had refused to take on the responsibility of sharing my Hong Kong heritage in Singapore”, said Ronald.
Diving into the F&B industry was a 180-degree change for Ronald, who hailed from a corporate background. Yet the 32-year-old and his 25-year old sister, Iris, both run the outlet at Alexandra Technopark, rising at 5 am every weekday to get the store up and running by 7 am. This is their second store after opening their first outlet in Tanjong Pagar.
On most days, Ronald puts on multiple hats in the store, from baking buns and pastries to manning the cashier.
Most of the baked goods were sold out when we visited at 5pm, which is a testament to how well the business in doing. We chat with Ronald to find out more about his experience in the F&B industry so far!
When I was working in the corporate world, my friends would ask what I usually do over the weekend. I would jokingly reply, “sleep”. These days, it’s no longer a joke but a fact!
It is a rewarding feeling to see our loyal customers come back daily, but the reality is that the F&B industry is not an easy one. It requires passion, long hours, and hard work.
There are times when I do miss climbing the corporate ladder but taking on this challenge and trying my hand at entrepreneurship is just as fulfilling!
Hong Kong has some of the best baked goods on the planet and for me, egg tarts will always bring back a sense of nostalgia. As a kid, I used to frequent this bakery at the corner of Fa Yuen street in Hong Kong. I would buy a dozen egg tarts to eat as I walked along the street to look at toys, and by the time I get to the end of the street, I would have finished all 12 of them.
Left to right: Crispy egg tarts and traditional wife biscuits with winter melon paste are made fresh daily at the bakery.
Our egg tarts, wife biscuits, and polo buns are must-try items. We also offer Char Siew Polo Buns, which was introduced due to popular demand from our customers.
We currently offer the same range of items daily. This is driven by our customer’s demands – from chatting with them daily to get their feedback, and our observation of the fastest selling items.
We get very crowded during breakfast hours and during tea time when office workers are looking to grab a quick snack to go. Service is key. We want to serve our customers as quickly as possible, and provide them with a pleasant experience.
The store offers a variety of local drinks like Milk Tea, Kopi O, and Horlicks, and quirky drinks such as Almond Tea, Gula Melaka Tea and Coke with preserved lemons.
On top of selling baked goods, we also offer a range of reasonably priced home-made drinks, which my sister, Iris, is in charge of preparing. She has even memorised the drink orders of some of our frequent customers – just one look at them and she starts to prepare their drink order!
In a way, we can’t completely ignore local taste buds. We may love Hong Kong buns and pastries but we still need our Kopi-Os and Teh-Cs throughout the day!
The prospect of an expansion is always on the horizon but there is nothing concrete at the moment. We are currently focusing on serving our customers at this outlet and will think about expanding when the opportunity arises.
When asked about the key takeaway of this experience these past two years, Ronald said, “Stepping out of your comfort zone and exposing yourself to new things may change your life and come with its own set of challenges but hey, one day it will be a story worth sharing.”