Innovation, hopia ube keys to Eng Bee Tin’s success

MANILA, Philippines - Craving for hopia, tikoy, or mooncake? Chances are you’ll find the best of them in Binondo, Manila.

Located in the heart of Ongpin, Eng Bee Tin has been synonymous with quality and delicious Chinese delicacy. It is known as the home of the best hopia and tikoy. It’s not hard to spot the store as you’ll likely see people flocking to it to buy pasalubong after a visit to Chinatown. Others even go to the area just to visit the store.

According to Gerik Chua, who handles the store’s operations, Eng Bee Tin makes thousands of hopia every day. Hopia ube, after all, is the store’s bestseller. “We are always after the quality of the product. So we ensure their freshness and we don’t use preservatives,” he says.

The other flavors of hopia are also sure to whet your appetite: mongo, baboy, pandan, and piña. To complete your celebration of the Chinese New Year, head to Eng Bee Tin for their signature special tikoy flavors: corn, pandan, strawberry, ube, white, brown, even lite for those who are conscious of their weight.

Humble beginnings

In 1912, Gerik’s great grandfather Chua Chiu Hong established Eng Bee Tin so he could offer traditional Chinese delicacies to the Chinese-Filipino community in Ongpin.

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Eng Bee Tin went through a challenging phase before Gerry Chua, Gerik’s father and the visionary behind the brand, came on board. Just like any struggling entrepreneur, Gerry performed a number of tasks for the store. “Since he was very hardworking, he would rest in this air-conditioned store and he would be there every day just to rest. The staff of the store even thought he was a robber,” relates Gerik. “One day, my father saw an ice cream vendor and asked her what flavor customers like. When he found out it was ube (purple yam), he had this brilliant idea of mixing six jars of ube into a batch of hopia.” The rest, they say, is history.

Today, Eng Bee Tin continues to receive bulk and bulk of orders of hopia ube. This delicious treat is prepared using a technique that Gerry himself learned from the master halayang ube makers of Pampanga. Talk about dedication and passion to your craft.

Soon enough, Eng Bee Tin was taking its rightful place in the industry. People have started talking about it and features were being made about the store. “Our only marketing strategy has always been word of mouth. In our business, it’s not all about money. We want to be able to produce something that our customers will enjoy. Again, it all boils down to the quality of our products,” says Gerik.

The century-old store has also seen changes in recent years. From Eng Bee Tin Hopia Factory, it rebranded itself to become Eng Bee Tin Chinese Deli, offering an array of products including its all-time favorites, frozen items, cakes and breads, native products, crackers and flakes, and ready-to-eat items.

“We are also a big fan of innovation. We like to know what our customers want so it’s a continuous experimentation while ensuring that quality is maintained. We have new variants of hopia (custard), tikoy, and tea (red and jasmine),” furthers Gerik. “Also, we use a food X-Ray machine to check for contaminants. Our products are made in machines that ensure cleanliness.”

“Our customers are important to us because we would not be here if not for the support they have shown the brand throughout all these years,” says Gerik. “We will continue to innovate to give them the best-tasting Chinese delicacies they have come to love.”

From a simple stall 102 years ago, Eng Bee Tin has surely gone a long way. Today, it has 16 branches and its products are sold in supermarkets, groceries, and restaurants. Eng Bee Tin is also one of the biggest international exporters of hopia in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and US.

 

 

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