25 December 2020
Since 1964, Lana Cakes has served generations of Singaporeans who have grown up indulging in the well-loved chocolate cake, right up till 2016 when owner Mrs Violet Kwan decided it was time to retire. Admiringly, her beloved son left his banking career in Tokyo and returned to continue her legacy.
Lana Cakes goes beyond being a home-grown name and brand. The beautiful lilac purple piping on the brown chocolate fudge cakes, the traces of purple in the smaller boxes and ribbons and colour accents, are all hints of Violet herself.
Insightfully, continuing Lana Cakes’ legacy is not easy. Loyal customers who have grown up with these cakes at every other celebration have an etching memory of the nostalgic flavours. Jason shared that he now has to “make sure the cakes now are as good or actually even better than what people remember of how Lana Cakes taste like”.
There is much honesty and pertinacity in this second generation of maintaining the legacy by making the cakes indistinguishable and in fact, better.
"Lana Cakes is still the same. The recipe hasn’t changed. This is my mum’s legacy. I wanted to make sure I get it right.”
Jason Kwan, Owner of Lana Cakes
Take our word for it, he truly has gotten it right.
Michelin Guide - 04 July 2019
1. Lana Cake Shop
Violet Kwan, the founder of the legendary Lana Cake Shop, first learnt the now-famous recipe of the classic chocolate fudge cake from her sister-in-law Lani in 1964. Receiving nothing but praise for her fudge cake, Kwan initially sold the home-made cake from her Hillcrest Park home, but later decided to open up Lana Cake Shop in 1975 in the neighbouring Greenwood Avenue. Named after Lani, the shop continues to operate till today and has established a loyal and unwavering fanbase in the local community. However, the decision made by Kwan to step down from the business in 2016 left customers stricken with worry for the future of Lana Cake Shop. They breathed a sigh of relief when her son Jason Kwan chose to leave his banking career in Tokyo to take over the business last year, allowing his mother to enjoy her well-deserved retirement.
Since taking over, the younger Kwan has made distinct improvements to the signature fudge cake along with a makeover of the entire shop, presenting a contemporary atmosphere for customers to enjoy. However, the taste of the chocolate fudge cake still remains. The cake features a chiffon-like sponge covered with a glossy layer of luscious chocolate fudge.
Mrs Kwan discusses the history of her famously popular chocolate cake and where the brand is headed under the direction of her son, Jason.
STORY BY KAREN FONG
PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRANZ NAVARRETE
Published on August 9, 2019, Updated on August 9, 2019
The Straits Times - 6 March 2019
By Tan Hsueh Yun
Mrs Violet Kwan's son, Jason, has quietly taken over the business, learning the ropes, updating the processes, revamping the branding and tweaking cake recipes.
When Mrs Violet Kwan put up the storied Lana Cake Shop for sale in 2016, she was adamant about finding "the right person" to take over the business.
That person has turned out to be her son Jason Kwan, 53, who gave up his job as a banker in Tokyo to move back to Singapore. It has been 18 months and he said he is finally ready to talk about why he decided to continue his mother's business in Greenwood Avenue.
He said: "If I had come out and said I'd taken over, the only question people would ask is whether the cake is as good. It was never about me taking over.
"I wanted customers to see that there was a seamless transition. I've talked to customers who are happy that I've taken over. The encouragement, feedback and goodwill have been amazing."
The Sunday Times - 28 February 2016
Keep Lana Cake Artisanal:
Made in small batches and frosted by hand
For as long as I can remember, I have celebrated my birthday with a moist and glossy chocolate fudge cake from Lana Cake Shop in Bukit Timah.
Mrs Violet Kwan's famous chocolate cake has taken centrestage at the tables of many birthday parties and celebratory events, filling the tummies of thousands of Singaporeans. Her cakes take many Singaporeans back to a time when photographs were captured on film and eating cake at a party was the highlight.
Perhaps Lana chocolate cakes are so coveted because they are not widely available.
Lana Cakes is a legacy and Mrs Kwan a legend.
The Straits Times - 6 March 2016
By Kenneth Goh
Nothing beats a Lana chocolate fudge cake.
It came up tops in a blind taste test conducted by The Sunday Times to find the best chocolate fudge cake in Singapore.
The panel, comprising Alysia Chan, executive sous chef of American smokehouse Meatsmith in Telok Ayer Street, Straits Times food editor Tan Hsueh Yun and food critic Wong Ah Yoke, sampled 10 chocolate fudge cakes from 10 stores across Singapore.
"The cake's layers are fluffy and light, without an oily taste. The smooth and glossy frosting has a stronger chocolate flavour with a hint of salt and the cake has distinct layers and a homespun look."
The New Nation - The Sunday Monitor (May 20, 1984)
"Eating with Violet Oon"
Mrs Violet Kwan, whose light-as-air chocolate chiffon cake with the gelatine-like chocolate topping has won her many fans and spawned many imitations throughout the kitchens of Singapore.
Other cake shops have also tried to copy her formula but to gourmets there's nothing like the real thing - and it's found in Mrs Violet Kwan's Lana Cake Shop at 36 Greenwood Avenue in the private housing estate of Hillcrest.