Hop Sing Lung Oyster Sauce (合勝隆)
York Lo: Hop Sing Lung Oyster Sauce (合勝隆)
When it comes to oyster sauce, most consumers automatically think of Lee Kum Kee (李錦記) given its dominant market share and in fact Lee Kum Kee’s founder Lee Kum-sheung is often credited as the one who “accidentally” invented oyster sauce in 1888 in Nansui (南水), Zhuhai when he left his oyster soup simmering for too long. Over time Lee Kum Kee moved from Nansui to Macau in 1906 and then Hong Kong in 1932 and Lee’s invention created the oyster sauce industry, which at one time counted dozens of players in those three locations.
Amongst these players, Lee Kum Kee’s closest competitor was Hop Sing Lung Oyster Sauce Co (合勝隆蠔油庄), which followed its path in those three locations. Hop Sing Lung had a loyal following – Eileen Lo Yin-fei , the Chinese American chef and author of 11 Chinese cookbooks, recommended Hop Sing Lung over Lee Kum Kee in her Chinese Chicken Cookbook (2007) and the famous restauranteur Cecilia Chiang also recommended the brand alongside LKK.
Hop Sing Lung was founded in 1928 by Chan Cheung-chi (陳象池), a native of Zhongshan who was born in 1900. As a young man, he joined his father in business in Nansui, where he ran shipping routes between Nansui, Macau and Zhongshan and became involved with the fishing and oyster business.
He entered the oyster sauce business and established Oleo de Ostra Hap Seng Long (Portugese name of Hop Sing Lung Oyster Sauce) in Macau. By the 1960s, Hop Sing Lung was known as one of the four big oyster sauce makers of Macau – the other three being Lee Kum Kee, Ving Sang (榮甡, founded in 1902 and the last player to manufacture oyster sauce by hand) and Fook Tai Lung (福泰隆). The Macau branch of Hop Sing Lung also included a bakery which produced mooncakes during Mid-Autumn festivals.
It is unclear exactly when Hop Sing Lung set up shop in Hong Kong but by the early 1950s it was already located at 25 Catchick Street in Kennedy Town with its own oyster farm in the New Territories. In January 1959, a new plant at 25 Catchick Street was opened by Li Chik-Nung MBE, the Assistant Secretary of Chinese Affairs (and one of the highest ranking Chinese officials in the colonial government at the time) with 3000 guests attending the ceremony.
According to an article in 1965, Hop Sing Lung’s products were distributed by dozens of distributors and hundreds of grocery stores in HK and also exported to America (allegedly its products were approved by the health authorities in the United States), Australia and Southeast Asia with annual sales of hundreds of thousands of US dollars. It was also an active participant in the annual HK Products Expo organized by the CMA
After the War, the founder’s son Chan Ling-fung (陳凌峯) joined the family business. Born in 1922 in HK, Ling-fung was a graduate of Ching Wah College and was initially placed in charge of the firm’s Macau operations. Aside from managing their business, Chan Cheung-chi and his son were active in community affairs.
In 1949, Chan Cheung-chi co-founded Kennedy Town Kaifong Welfare Association (西環街坊福利會) and both he and his son had served as chairman of the group. Outside of the Kennedy Town neighborhood, the Chan family was also involved with the Chung Sing Benevolent Society (Chan Cheung-chi was vice chairman from 1961-64), Pok Oi Hospital and the Chung Shan Chamber of Commerce.
According to Companies Registry records, Hop Sing Lung Oyster Sauce Co was formally incorporated in 1971 but dissolved in 2004. The same year, Mon Chong Loong Trading Corp of New York which operated Chinese supermarkets registered the trademarks of Hop Sing Lung oyster sauce in the US. It is unclear if the brand of oyster sauce is still actively in production.
This article was first posted on 23rd June 2017.
- Made in Hong Kong: the history of Lee Kum Kee’s oyster sauce – so good it is served in space SCMP 6th May 2018
- History of Lee Kum Kee – company website
- 華僑日報, 1965-01-07
- 華僑日報, 1959-01-03
Related Indhhk articles:
- Oyster Beds of the Wang Chau area, Yuen Long
- The declining oyster trade of Lau Fau Shan – HKU project to revive the 700 year old industry
- The Oyster industry in South China and Hong Kong, 1931
- The five Tang brothers – oyster farming Deep Bay, Sui Luen Weaving Mill 瑞麟 織造廠, Sui Luen Towel Mill 瑞麟毛巾 廠, Tung On Cheong Bakery 同安祥餅家 – further information provided by a granddaughter