Fei Fah Novelty Food to open first flagship retail store and cafe 155 South Bridge
Highlights will include its famed Chui Lau Heung mooncakes that are sold across the globe, from Hong Kong to Canada
SINGAPORE — “A woman teared (up) when she tried our mooncake at the Hong Kong Food Expo,” recalled Lawrence Lau, the chief executive officer and managing director of Fei Fah International Group, which produces Chui Lau Heung mooncakes.
That was when he realised how similar the food business is to his family’s traditional trade, said the 50-year-old, third-generation owner of Fei Fah, which started out as a medical hall on South Bridge Road and continues to produce medicinal balms under the brand, Fei Fah Medical. He explained that his grandfather had started the medical hall with the intention of providing for his family. “But once he sorted out his finances, he took up skills as a Chinese physician to help lessen the suffering of others and make them happy.
“Food does the same thing: I might not be lessening your pain but I am creating joy and happiness through good taste. I am creating bonding experiences between people by selling a product that they can share and enjoy.”
Lau entered the food business by chance, when he was looking to diversify the family business. “Our Hong Kong office for the medical business was bleeding and I was looking for a breakthrough to turn things around.” It was then that he met a durian mooncake manufacturer in Singapore, who was seeking partners to help export the confection.
This led to the creation of Chui Lau Heung mooncakes in 2003 and the subsequent inception of Fei Fah Novelty Food in 2005.
“It was challenging understanding the product, learning about food storage, logistics, and how to market the product in Hong Kong,” he said. It was a bold move given the small market in Hong Kong, as few as two out of 10 consumers were receptive to durian. But the company decided to enter the market anyway, said Lau.
The subsequent rise of budget airlines made travelling to Singapore and Malaysia affordable for those in Hong Kong and around the South China Sea. This meant more of them were spending time on our shores and getting acquainted with local flavours.
“And with durian, once they tried it, they went nuts over it. Today, 70 per cent of Hong Kongers are not put off by durians and demand is so much higher. In fact we are seeing demand also from mainland China, and that is a huge market,” he added. Chui Lau Heung is currently one of Hong Kong’s top five selling mooncake brands.
When Fei Fah Novelty Food’s first flagship retail store and cafe 155 South Bridge opens at Pagoda Street on August 1, Singaporeans will finally get a chance to taste this homegrown product that is sold across continents, from Hong Kong, Macau and Guangzhou, to Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Houston, Honolulu, New York, and Chicago, to Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal and Vancouver.
Look out for their new offering of crystal durian mini mooncake — the brand’s 2016 creation that features a creamy mix of D24 and Mao Shan Wang durian filling encased in a tender, see-through crystal skin. The novelty mooncake is made to resemble a faceted jewel. Lau shared that the idea was conceived in November last year, and that it took a long time for his master chef to perfect the recipe, as creating the crystal skin proved more challenging than anybody had thought. While not revealing numbers, Lau said that quantities are limited and stocks for this mooncake will not be replenished once they are sold. The crystal mooncakes are already available for early bird orders in Hong Kong, Macau and the United States.
Apart from the mooncakes, the shop and cafe spanning two levels will showcase products under Fei Fah Novelty Food, which includes items such as durian honey and fish bak kuah, and also those from Fei Fah Medical, such as traditional balms and medical oils.