Established in the late 1920s, Tong Heng is a celebrated brand famed for their handmade pastries, prepared in traditional Cantonese style. Their repertoire ranges from seasonal mooncakes and Lunar New Year treats to their all-time favourite egg tarts, which come in the striking diamond-shaped crust distinctive of this almost century-old establishment.
Tong Heng’s Chief Operating Officer is Ana Fong, who has brought them and their signature egg tarts to new heights. Dynamic and dedicated, it was her belief in helping others that brought her to Tong Heng, where she spent years learning their foundational pastry-making skills prior to taking the helm. As her prowess grew, she was able to spend more time observing other aspects of the business, which led to her noticing that Tong Heng, like many traditional businesses at the time, accepted only cash payment. Recognising the importance of digitalisation in an increasingly modern world, Ana arranged for Tong Heng to be one of the earliest GrabPay adopters. Other e-payment methods gradually followed, along with computers and software, cloud-based data entry, and eventually, social media marketing. Despite having no prior corporate or business experience, Ana rose to the challenge of implementing the modernisations, which was done incrementally to give the business time to adapt. Ana’s bosses, her two aunts, initially faced some difficulties with electronic payments and accounting – they had been used to paying their suppliers in cash. But as Tong Heng began to reap the benefits of Ana’s changes, they were swift to get on board.
Ana’s mixture of foresight and leadership, coupled with a dash of flexibility, played a crucial role in Tong Heng’s popularity and reputation today. Under her stewardship, Tong Heng has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts, and a steady stream of people both young and old can often be found queuing at their shops. Ana believes that the future of heritage businesses lies in the hands of the younger generation, and strives for creativity in Tong Heng’s offerings to attract a younger crowd. However, she is always mindful of Tong Heng’s origins as a purveyor of traditional Cantonese pastries, and is careful to ensure that they stay true to their roots. Instead of incorporating flavours more traditionally associated with Western cuisine into their range, Ana finds inspiration for Tong Heng’s new products in places such as traditional Chinese medicine shops and coffee shops serving local beverages. Although Tong Heng is Chinese in origin, they have proudly incorporated flavours from Singapore’s culture over their many decades in business, including local favourites such as kaya and curry.
By innovating along the guidelines of their heritage, Tong Heng has been able to introduce their flavours to new audiences while retaining their staunch followers. Ana hopes that their historic pastries will continue to appeal to a broad range of customers, and therefore allow Tong Heng’s legacy to live on.