HK China Products and Cheung Wing Kee – Makers of Shrimp Noodles
York Lo: HK China Products and Cheung Wing Kee – Makers of Shrimp Noodles
Earlier on the website, we covered several noodle manufacturers such as Hing Wah, Pak Kut, Tin Kee and Winner (maker of Doll instant noodles). Below are two other noodle manufacturers known for their shrimp noodles (蝦子麵), made from combining shrimp roe and flour.
Hong Kong China Products Co (中國食品公司)
Ad for HK China Products Co in 1946 promoting its shrimp noodle and soy sauce which were selling for discounted price of HK$2 per box and per bottle from HK$3.(KSEN, 1946-6-4)
Hong Kong China Products Co (not to be confused with the Chinese product department store China Products Co) was one of the leading manufacturers of noodles and other food products from the 1930s to 1960s. Aside from shrimp noodles, the firm was known for its soy sauce (鼓油王)and also manufactured preserved fruits and meat products.
Left: Fung Mang-tung (HK Pun U District Association, 1967); Center: ad announcing China Products donation to the Sino-Japanese war relief effort in 1938 (KSDN, 1938-8-19);Right: Fung Mang-rung and fellow leaders of the Pun U District Association leading the group visit of the Panyu natives cemetery in 1958. Right to left: Tse Yu-chuen(謝雨川), Ho Keng-po (何鏡波), chairman Watt Sai-man, Li Ping-sum(李炳森), Fung, Lau Hak-kan(劉克勤). (WKYP, 1958-5-5)
A native of Panyu in Guangdong province, China Products founder Fung Mang-tung (馮孟東) was born in around 1890. The exact date of inception for the firm is unclear but it was already in business in the late 1930s when its address was listed as 90 Queen’s Road West while its factory was located at 74 Shantung Street in Mongkok. (香港指南, 1938; 1938 ad above).
By the late 1950s, China Products’ factory was located atthe newly industrialized district of Kwai Chung (New Lot 713 at Chung Kwai Chung in Tsuen Wan). (A Handbook of HK Industry, 1958) As a result, Fung Mang-tung was one of the benefactors of the expansion of theKwai Chung Public School in 1959 and his portrait is on a memorial wall along with many local leaders and industrialists (see article). In 1955, his wife spoke in support of the formation of an organization for women in the New Territories. (China Press Review, 1955).
Outside of business, Fung was very active in community affairs and served as the president of the HK Pun U District Association in the 1950s. In March 1961,his son Fung Yui-fun (馮裔勳) and grandsons Fung Ting-chung (馮定中) and Fung Chi-chung (馮治中) organized a 71st birthday celebration for him at the Ying King restaurant in Wanchai which was attended by over 1000 guests. (WKYP, 1961-3-20)
As a firm, HK China Products Co never appear to have incorporated and has since faded into history.
Cheung Wing Kee Noodles Factory(張榮記)
Left: Cheung Wing Kee’s retail outlet in Hunghom; Right: Four elders at the Mid-Autumn Festival celebration sponsored by Cheung Wing Kee in 1957. Left to right: Chan Yuk-chuen, Lo Sheung-fu, Lau Chung-ho, Hui Chai-shun (KSDN, 1957-10-9)
Cheung Wing Kee, known for its shrimp and scallop noodles, was founded in HK in 1957 by Cheng Wing-lit (張榮烈). Cheung came from a family of intellectuals in Canton and his motherwas an economics graduate of the University of Canton. Despite his lack of food industry experience, he picked noodles as his business given the market demand and hired sifu (masters) from Guangzhou to make fresh noodles out of his shop at 86 Wuhu Street in Hunghom. Its first products were shrimp roe noodles, egg noodles and soybean-based “lucky noodles”.
To put the firm’s name on the map, Cheung came up with the idea of sponsoring a banquet at the Champagne Restaurant to celebrate famous elders in HK during the Mid-Autumn Festival in 1957 as noodles are synonymous with longevity in Chinese culture because of its length. (WKYP, 1957-10-9) The most famous elder at the time Sir Shouson Chow was invited but did not attend but nevertheless Cheung secured two centenarians – Hui Chai-shun and Lau Chung-ho plus the famous tutor Lo Sheung-fu (90 years old) and merchant Chan Yuk-chuen (86 years old) and gathered some publicity.
Soon Cheung Wing Kee was delivering to homes and businesses, starting with daipai dong and later to larger restaurants. In the late 1960s, Cheung Wing Kee’s noodles were available for HK$1 per pack which was enough to feed four and its noodles were available in its main store in Wuhu Street, Cheuk Luk Street in San Po Kong, Mau Tau Kok Road in Kowloon City and two restaurants – Portland Restaurant in Mongkok and Pak Lee Restaurant in Kwun Tong. (KSDN, 1966-9-26)
In 1984, Cheung Wing Kee was taken over by Frankie Hui Yee-leung (許義良), who started as a nonpaid apprentice at the firm in the 1960s and later became Cheung’s godson. In the 1990s, Cheung Wing Kee began making noodles out of ingredients such as spirulina and flaxseed for health-conscious clients and Hui’s children also began to join the business, starting with Yvonne in 1996 and followed by her brother and younger sister. The siblings help to modernize the production, packaging and marketing of the firm’s products and by the 2010s it is making 500kg of noodles per day out of its two factories in Hunghom with shrimp roe noodles remain its most popular product and counting major hotels such as Four Seasons, Intercontinental and Grand Hyatt as its clients.
This article was first posted on 25th September 2020.
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