SINGAPORE- Delectable, addictive, nostalgic. These are the words used to describe Lana Cake Shop’s chocolate fudge cake, one that comes with decades of legacy.
Yet, in 2016, owner Violet Kwan had wanted to sell the shop and recipes to willing buyers as she set to retire, a decision which had aroused substantial sorrowful comments and skepticism.
Customers had not been thrilled about her decision. One had asked, “What about us?”
Thankfully, Kwan’s son Jason, 53, agreed to leave his banking practice in Tokyo to take over the shop. Thereafter, he took 18 months to truly perfect the recipe of the chocolate fudge cake, breathe new life and make gradual improvements into each business aspect from branding to work processes.
Last week, mother and son bakers announced their new business plans to relieved customers. The younger Kwan also related how he innovated his mum’s iconic fudge cake recipe a trifle by giving the cake a more intense chocolate flavour while balancing out the taste qualities of saltiness, sweetness and bitterness so as to achieve the perfect chocolate fudge cake. Whilst doing this, he was careful not to change the original recipe by much.
Other improvements have included the efficiency of the bakery’s kitchen, which is now able to sell up to 500 cakes a week.
Even with the change, Lana’s cakes remained immensely popular today, where there are long queues and impressive sales results. According to an article by The Straits Times of Singapore, a staggering 400 to 500 cakes are sold every week. In fact, one has to pre-order to have a go at these cakes.
How Lana Cake Shop started
It all started in 1964, when Kwan started to bake cakes because of her her sister-in-law Lani. Lani would visit from Hawaii, US, here she lived, and bring along cakes that she had learnt how to make at the Honolulu bakery she worked at. Lani would then take these cakes along when she visited friends.
These friends loved Lani’s cakes so much that she became inspired to teach Kwan how to make the cakes so that friends could order them even after she returned to Hawaii. As a result, Kwan learnt to make orange chiffon cake, blueberry cake and chocolate fudge cake, and sold them from her Serangoon Garden home.
Initially, the orange chiffon cake gained the most popularity. However, the chocolate one soon became the bestseller.
In 1975, she opened her shop at Greenwood Avenue.
Assurance that Lana cakes will not drop in quality
Despite Kwan’s initial decision to sell the shop and recipes off in 2016, Kwan had said she would ensure that the person who took over would make the cakes as good as she did, “if not better”.
Such a promise, it seemed, had materialised as her son went on to perfect the recipes.
Nostalgia makes for happy customers
In depicting Singaporeans’ nostalgia for Lana’s Cake Shop, The Straits Times quoted Daniel Chia, the president of Slow Food (Singapore) and a lecturer in culinary, and catering management in Temasek Polytechnic, who said: “I have fond memories of enjoying Lana’s chocolate cake growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
A lawyer, Genevieve Tan-McCully, addded: “It’s old-fashioned comfort food.”
With regard to the new successor, many customers express elation as the bakery’s continued current oprations mean they will continue to be able to taste Lana’s Cake Shop’s wonderful, if not better, creations, with further perfected recipes in place.