National Day 2021: 6 Heritage F&B Brands in Singapore That Make Us Proud
These local family businesses have stood the test of time, thanks to the people who remain committed to their survival
This story was first published on August 7, 2020, and updated on August 4, 2021.
The journey towards creating a family business and later upholding its legacy is something that requires care and attention.
However, working with family members in a business can be challenging. But it also has its own set of rewards, confirms female brewmaster Crystalla Huang of RedDot Brewhouse.
She says: "Whatever we do, we put our 100 per cent effort... there is no ulterior motive cause everyone shares the same goals." It also explains why these F&B brands that have been run by the same families for generations have stood the test of time—even in this difficult climate.
We take a look at five homegrown brands that have made Singapore proud:
Gryphon Tea Company
You could say that tea runs in the blood of Lim Tian Wee, the executive director and founder of Gryphon Tea Company. It may have been established in 2006, but its roots can be traced as far back as 100 years ago when his great grandmother opened a humble grocer, which eventually evolved into Lim Lam Thye Private Limited as we know today.
As far as Lim could recall, he had always been involved in the family business. But bigger dreams led him to strike out on his own with Gryphon Tea, which has become a household name for its innovative flavours such as earl grey neroli and roji cha, curated by Lim himself.
Keng Eng Kee Seafood
Paul, Wayne and Jiamin Liew belong to the third generation of family who owns Keng Eng Kee Seafood. Their grandparents, Low Peck Yah and Koh Yok, migrated to Singapore from Hainan island in China, and founded the hawker stall in the 70s serving simple and tasty Chinese stir-fry dishes.
It’s been four decades since that moment, but the legacy of Low and Koh live on through the grandchildren, who have taken over the family business with the same goal of preserving traditional recipes but injecting the menu with innovative dishes. In fact, Wayne is the current head chef, Paul looks after the overall business and Jiamin oversees the operations and human management.
HJH Maimunah Restaurant & Catering
The halal restaurant and catering business was founded by Madam Didi Masturah’s parents in the 90s, in honour of her grandmother who was a well-known businesswoman in the 60s. Its first eatery can still be found in the heart of the Kampong Glam district, but they have since expanded with another home in Joo Chiat. Masturah, who is now the general manager, ensures that the family business remains true to its spirit by serving kampung-style cuisine prepared the traditional way.
New Ubin Seafood
The stalwart zi char place, with outlets in Chijmes, Zhongshan Park and Tampines, remains a firm favourite of gourmands who are looking for tasty and homely local fare. At the helm is co-founder chef and COO Pang Seng Meng, who, upon retiring from the pharmaceuticals industry, opened a humble eatery with his wife in Pulau Ubin.
After more than 30 years in the F&B scene, the business remains in the family and is still sought after for Pang’s signature creations, including the Heart Attack Fried Rice and the Boss Bee Hoon.
Singapore’s first microbrewery was borne out of founder and brewmaster Ernest Ng’s love for beer, which began after tasting a craft beer in South Africa in 1997. This kickstarted his homebrewing journey for 10 years, and led to the family opening RedDot Brewhouse (a restaurant and brewery) on Dempsey Hill. It has since opened another outlet on Boat Quay.
Thirteen years on, and with presence across Australia and Asia, Ernest is now in charge of their factory in Melbourne, Australia. His daughter, Crystalla Huang, manages the business in Singapore. As the country’s first female brewmaster, she also comes up with German-style brews with an Asian twist, served alongside their signature beer flavours.
See also: Why We Love Made-In-Singapore Craft Beer
Thye Moh Chan
Established in 1943, the homegrown pastry shop continues to please local palates with its traditional and freshly-made traditional Teochew bakes, crafted using time-honoured recipes that have been passed down for generations. Throughout its 78-year-long history, the culinary team has dished out an array of much-loved confections such as tau sar piah (which comes in salty and sweet fillings), Teochew yam encased in a light and flaky pastry, and yuan yang. The latter is a savoury delight of mung bean paste combined with spicy pork floss, shallots and salted egg yolk.