Tung Lok Group



Tung Lok Group is a company that owns and manages more than 40 prominent restaurants in Singapore and the region. It is led by executive chairman Andrew Tjioe, and in 2001 the company became listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX).

Background
Tung Lok Group owns and manages more than 40 prominent restaurants in Singapore, Indonesia, China, Japan and India.1 The company is known for being able to cope with changing economic circumstances due to its innovativeness and flexibility. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it chose to expand during previous economic downturns, such as in 1998 and 2001.2 The company also dealt with crises like the SARS epidemic through measures such as reallocating staff and introducing discounts for customers.3


The company’s business strategy is to cater to a wide range of customers with differing tastes. This was achieved by dividing its restaurants into four groups in 2007: By TLG, By Tung Lok, Tung Lok and By Andrew Tjioe, in ascending order of price range. The company has also rebranded itself to appear more accessible to the masses.4

Tung Lok holds regular classes for its staff conducted in-house or by the Restaurant Association of Singapore in order to maintain high service standards.5 Tung Lok has also consistently been involved in national and international food events; for instance, it has participated in the annual World Gourmet Summit since its inauguration in 1997.6

Founding
Tjioe Ji Nan (Zhou Ying Nan), father of the current executive chairman Andrew Tjioe, initially ran Oceanic, a textile business, but decided to diversify and venture into the food industry as the textile industry was not doing well. He opened the Charming Garden restaurant at Orchid Inn (now Copthorne Orchid) in 1980, which served Hunanese cuisine. The younger Tjioe helped out with the restaurant after returning from his studies in the US.7


After the success of the first restaurant, the Tjioes planned to open another restaurant in Liang Court. The owner of the building required a more refined restaurant that was similar to the Sun Tung Lok Restaurant in Hong Kong. The Tjioes therefore visited Sun Tung Lok, which then provided consultants for the new restaurant. In 1984, Tung Lok opened Tung Lok Shark’s Fin Restaurant in Liang Court serving Cantonese cuisine, including the titular shark’s fin.8 The restaurant was the first Chinese restaurant to employ European neoclassical décor.9 It was known for periodically offering imperial- and Confucian-style banquets prepared by chefs from China, in particular from the famous Diaoyutai State Guesthouse.10


Expansion in Singapore
In 1988, Tung Lok took over Grand Pavilion at the Chinese Swimming Club. Paramount Restaurant, another Cantonese restaurant, opened in the East Coast in 1990. It was known for its karaoke television (KTV) amenities and for introducing New Asian or fusion cuisine.11


In 1991, Tung Lok opened Ling Zhi Vegetarian Restaurant at Orchard Towers and Noble House on Shenton Way. Lao Beijing Dining Hall, serving northern Chinese food, opened at Orchard Towers in 1996.12

In spite of the ongoing recession, Tung Lok opened Club Chinois and House of Mao in 1997. House of Mao opened in China Square Food Centre, featuring Mao-themed décor and staff as well as food from Hunan, Mao’s home province.13 A series of Mao-themed restaurants followed, including Red Book and House of Mao Hot Pot. House of Mao was initially well-received, but was replaced in 2001 with Teahouse, which specialised in dim sum, due to its declining popularity.14

In 1997, Tung Lok opened Club Chinois, a restaurant serving contemporary Chinese food. It was initially developed by acclaimed Canadian-Chinese chef Susur Lee, a specialist in fusion food.15 In 2010, the restaurant moved to Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) and was renamed Chinois by Susur Lee with Lee returning to play a major role in the revamped restaurant.16 It has since been renamed again to Tung Lok Heen.17

Tung Lok Seafood opened in 2000 in the East Coast, followed by two more outlets. In the same year, Jade, featuring modern Chinese cuisine and fusion food, opened.18 Imperium Chinese Dining opened in Ngee Ann City in 2002, serving both traditional and fusion Chinese cuisine.19

In 2002, My Humble House opened in Esplanade Mall. It serves neo-classical Chinese cuisine and has a strong emphasis on artistic décor and dishes.20 In 2004, Space@My Humble House opened as a more casual and lower-priced version of My Humble House.21 In 2006, House of Hunan opened in Novena Square, though it was later replaced by Ling Zhi.22

In 2006, Tung Lok Signatures opened in VivoCity. The restaurant served a range of signature dishes selected from Tung Lok’s various restaurants.23 In 2007, Zhou’s Kitchen opened in Anchorpoint, Far East Square and Square 2. This restaurant with a more casual setting was named after the Chinese version of Tjioe’s surname.24 In 2009, Tung Lok Classics, serving classic Chinese dishes from various regions in China, opened at the Chinese Swimming Club and Orchard Parade Hotel.25 In 2013, Tung Lok Signatures and Tung Lok Classics merged to become Tung Lok Signatures.26

Ruyi, a Chinese fast food restaurant, opened at RWS and Changi Airport in 2010. In 2012, Tong Le Private Dining opened at the Overseas Union Enterprise (OUE) Tower, a restored heritage building. The highest floor revolves slowly, allowing diners to have a 360 degree view of the waterfront. A unique feature is the sushi bar inside the restaurant run by Michelin-starred sushi chef Shinji Kanesaka.27 Tung Lok Xi He Peking Duck and MAD (Modern Asian Diner) also opened at The Grandstand at Turf City in 2012. MAD is jointly opened by Tung Lok and Dick Lee, hence the name MAD, which is a reference to Lee’s role as the Mad Chinaman. MAD features a wide array of food options, ranging from Spanish tapas to Chinese dishes to cocktails by Bar Stories.28

Acquisitions and joint ventures
Tung Lok manages several restaurants in addition to its own outlets. It acquired Paddyfields Thai Restaurant and managed Pine Valley. It also acquired the franchising rights for Garuda Padang Cuisine.29


In 2001, Tung Lok opened French-style restaurant-and-bar Asian in a joint venture with Paris-based Copilot Developments in the old Thong Chai Medical Hall.30 However, after a year it was reopened as Jing, a Chinese restaurant, as Asian’s exotic concept did not appeal to the local market.31

In 2005, Tung Lok embarked on a joint venture with Tee Yih Jia (TYJ) Food Manufacturing to form T&T Gourmet Cuisine, which produces frozen dim sum.32 In 2008, Tung Lok, in a joint venture with Taiwanese restaurant Shin Yeh, opened a Shin Yeh outlet in Liang Court. In 2010, Tung Lok Seafood collaborated with The Seafood International Market & Restaurant, Palm Beach Seafood and Jumbo Seafood, to open Singapore Seafood Republic at RWS.33

Expansion overseas
In 1993, Tung Lok opened Ming, its first restaurant overseas, in Jakarta, Indonesia. It has also opened Lao Beijing in Jakarta and Taipan Restaurant in Medan, Indonesia.34


My Humble House outlets have been opened in Chengdu, Beijing, Tokyo and New Delhi. Tung Lok also opened a Tung Lok Elite restaurant in Beijing as well as Jin Lu – The Chinoise Story in Shanghai and Wuhan.35

Achievements
Tung Lok was listed on the SGX in 2001.36 In 2003, Tung Lok published New Chinese Cuisine, its own cookbook.37


Tung Lok, its restaurants and personnel – such as executive chairman Tjioe and former director of kitchens Sam Leong – have received many awards. Tung Lok has won prizes at the Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards, International Star Diamond Awards by the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, AsiaOne People’s Choice Awards and World Gourmet Summit Awards of Excellence.38

Timeline
1980: Opens Charming Garden.
1984: Opens Tung Lok Shark’s Fin Restaurant.
1988: Takes over Grand Pavilion.
1990: Opens Paramount Restaurant.
1991: Opens Ling Zhi Vegetarian Restaurant.
1993:
Opens first overseas restaurant, Ming.

1996: Opens Lao Beijing Dining Hall.
1997: Opens Club Chinois and House of Mao.
2000: Opens Tung Lok Seafood and Jade.
2001:
Listed on the SGX. Opens Teahouse and Asian.

2002: Opens Imperium Chinese Dining and My Humble House.
2003: Publishes New Chinese Cuisine.
2004: Opens Space@My Humble House.
2005: Joint venture with TYJ Food Manufacturing.
2006: Opens House of Hunan and Tung Lok Signatures.
2007: Opens Zhou’s Kitchen.
2008: Opens Shin Yeh.
2009: Opens Tung Lok Classics.
2010: Opens Ruyi and collaborates to open Singapore Seafood Republic. Club Chinois renamed Chinois by Susur Lee and moves to RWS.
2012: Opens Tong Le Private Dining, Tung Lok Xi He Peking Duck and MAD.
2013: Tung Lok Signatures and Tung Lok Classics merge to become Tung Lok Signatures.



Author
Jan Yap




References
1. TungLok Group. (2014). TungLok Milestones & Awards. Retrieved from http://www.tunglok.com/milestones
2. Taste for more. (2001, August 17). The Business Times, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Get really flexible. (2003, July 28). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Fang, N. (2007, October 16). Tung Lok rebrands itself to woo casual diners. The Straits Times, p. 41. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Lee, C. W. (2003, December 30). Dining with a winner. Today, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. World Gourmet Summit. (1997). Retrieved from http://www.worldgourmetsummit.com/
7. Tan, S. Y. (1998, October 23). A restaurateur’s restaurateur. The Business Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Tan, S. Y. (1998, October 23). A restaurateur’s restaurateur. The Business Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Chan, M. (1993, July 11). Out of the red…. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Quek, S. P. (1991, September 28). The dignitaries’ dinner. The Business Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Ee, J. (1996, October 26). Exploring new territories in dining. The Business Times, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. TungLok Group. (2014). TungLok Milestones & Awards. Retrieved from http://www.tunglok.com/milestones
13. Feeling in the Party mood tonight, comrade? (1998, March 22). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Wong, A. Y. (2001, July 29). Tea treats that touch your heart. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Mah, K. K. (1997, November 30). Next 18 days may serve 144 good memories. The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Wong, A. Y. (2010, February 14). New location, same quality. The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. TungLok Group. (2014). TungLok Milestones & Awards. Retrieved from http://www.tunglok.com/milestones
18. Ee, J. (2001, January 12). Oriental gem – Tung Lok’s latest pleaser. The Business Times, p. 31. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Ee, J. (2002, May 24). All kinds of everything. The Business Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Ee, J. (2002, October 18). An arty dining experience. The Business Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Wong, A. Y. (2004, October 10). Watch this Space. The Straits Times, p. 31. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. TungLok Group. (2014). TungLok Milestones & Awards. Retrieved from http://www.tunglok.com/milestones
23. Wong, A. Y. (2006, December 10). The best of Tung Lok. The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24.
Wong, A. Y. (2007, November 4). Homely fare. The Straits Times, p. 72. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Wong, A. Y. (2009, May 24). Classically Chinese. The Straits Times, p. 61. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. TungLok Group. (2014). TungLok Milestones & Awards. Retrieved from http://www.tunglok.com/milestones

27. Heritage appeal. (2012, January 14). The Business Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
28. Ee, J. (2012, December 31). They’re MAD about everything. The Business Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
29. TungLok Group. (2014). TungLok Milestones & Awards. Retrieved from http://www.tunglok.com/milestones
30. Kerk, C. (2001, August 15). Tung Lok opening dine-and-bar restaurant with French partner. The Business Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Ee, J. (2002, September 6). Classics. The Business Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
32. Ng, G. (2005, April 5). Tycoons team up to export dim sum. The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
33. Quek, E. (2010, September 20). Seafood central. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
34. TungLok Group. (2014). TungLok Milestones & Awards. Retrieved from http://www.tunglok.com/milestones
35. TungLok Group. (2014). TungLok Milestones & Awards. Retrieved from http://www.tunglok.com/milestones
36. Lee, J. (2001, February 22). Tung Lok gets go-ahead for SGX listing. The Business Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
37.
Yong, D. (2004, February 22). Winning recipes. The Straits Times, p. 34. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
38. TungLok Group. (2014). TungLok Milestones & Awards. Retrieved from http://www.tunglok.com/milestones




The information in this article is valid as at 29 January 2014 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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Organisations