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Sing Cheung Sauce Company

The Sing Cheung Company, maker of chilli, garlic and soysauce, is responsible for the sweet smell of molasses wafting into the street in dhapa.

It helps because otherwise the overpowering odor in the Tangra neighborhood is a mix of stagnant water and rotting eggs, the product of chemicals used in the area’s tanneries.

“So many chemicals, there is no malaria here because it kills all the germs,” joked one resident.

Tangra, on the eastern side of Kolkata, the port city in east India once known as Calcutta, the capital of British India, has long been home to most of the city’s Chinese.

Comments

  1. Esther says:

    I understand that a Sing Cheung Co (owned by Cantonese) existed in old Chinatown in Tiretti Bazaar area before. Opposte of which is Pou Chong Brothers (owned by Hakka). Sing Cheung sells various types of Chinese sauces plus dried groceries imported from Hong Kong etc. and Pou Chong sells sauces plus some gold jewellery business. Next to Sing Cheung is Pou Wah( owned by Hubei), which sells Chinese handicrafts and small accessories.

    Just curious, can anyone please advise if all of these three shops still exist today or they have gone down to history forever.

    1. leon says:

      is Sing Cheung Co owner cantonese ? all the time i thought he is hakka. Well Sing Cheung Co & Pou Chong Brothers is still very much in business and for Pou Wah i have no idea.

  2. Esther says:

    The owner of Sing Cheung Co may have changed hands to a Hakka now. In the past, Sing Cheung Co had a retail shop in Old Chinatown with its manufacturing plant for all kinds of sauces based in Tangra.

    In the old days, it was run by the widow of a Mr Young, a Cantonese. Mrs Young then emigrated to Toronto; so were her two children a few decades ago.

    As for the probable survival of these three shops, I was wondering if they still exist where they once stood in Old Chinatown of yester-years.

    I do understand from postings in this blog that the manufacturing sections of both Sing Cheung and Pou Chong are still in business in Tangra. They are really old but good brands that weathered all storms as fittest survivors.

  3. Bill says:

    My understanding is that the area where these retail shops used to be in the Teretti Bazaar area is no longer there. They have been torn down and rebuilt. Anyone here from this area care to comment?

  4. Thien says:

    hi ,
    both the shops r still there, i mean pouchong n sing cheung, but i have never heard of Pou Wah before. where is it located exactly?

  5. Esther says:

    Pou Wah used to be on the right hand side of Sing Cheung Co., i.e. adjacent and on the same foot-path, say one block away. From another angle of view, it is slightly direct across the road from Pou Chong Brothers.
    They all form part of the landmarks of old Chinatown in Teratti Bazaar

  6. Daniel says:

    Esther,

    I am Mrs. Young’s grandson. I remember my grandmother telling stories of running Sing Cheung and what life was like to be Cantonese in Calcutta. I was born in Toronto after my Mom left India, in fact Mrs. Young (my grandmother) left India several years after my Mom did.

    Please reply here so I can contact you, I am very interested to learn more about my heritage and I’m planning a trip to visit Calcutta soon.

  7. ycl1688 says:

    Daniel,
    i do not speak for Esther, since you are interested in your family heritage, here some little information I can gather, your grand parents are the elite business persons of calcutta, who would forget the jewelry business, that produced all the wedding gold ornaments for the brides and bridegrooms.
    I know my school mate mom used to take care of cooking in your grand parents household, who could afford such a luxury in those days ?
    The apartment where they lived closed to Hindusthan Building, with high rent not many can afford. It has been a great company they built up, whoever took over has built 2 manufacturing plants, consider the widely popular chinese food has become in india, with the sauces supply to the roadside eateries. Your grand parents have done a great job to the community.

  8. Daniel says:

    ycl1688,

    Thank you for sharing my family’s story! This is truly amazing to hear. I remember my Grandmother (Mrs Lucy Young) telling me about her jewelry store, she loved 22K yellow gold and green jade. Mr and Mrs Young also owned racehorses and I hear they were well regarded in Chinatown Calcutta.

    Your school mate’s Mom? My Mom referred to her home cook as ‘Ah Fong’, is that the same person? I think their flat was the entire floor. But my Grandmother was truly respectable, for taking over the business after my Grandfather passed away in 1962.

    Do you live in India? How do you know so much about Chinatown Calcutta? My Mom married into the family related to the KT HING brothers business, do you know them? What is your email address, I would like to stay in touch with you.

  9. Esther says:

    Daniel,

    So you are Peggy’s son ? Is that correct. And your late maternal uncle is Tony. Just forgot your dad’s name, but know that his family used to live on ground floor of Bradbourne Court in Chandni Chowk Street, around the corner of Sabir Restaurant which is just a stone’s throw from your grandmother’s flat – that ycli688 rightly advised above – opposite Hindustan Building and slightly adjacent to eMall (Previously GEC office building). I understand that KT Hing family once owned a Chinese cinema hall before in those good old days in Calcutta. If I am not wrong, your paternal aunt had a severe accident in Toronto many years back and that your dad had a younger brother.

    Sing Cheung Provisions store still exists in New CIT Road, Tireti Bazaar, in the same location as before. Its main business is now only chillie, soya and other sauces supply without the jewellery part. Also, the manufacturing unit is still in Tangra. If my memory serves me right, your grandmother used to own a private rickshaw then.

    It is nice to hear that you want to visit Calcutta to find out your roots but be prepared for a shocking experience of your life. The city is chaotic and dirty, but a feeling of home for those Chinese who were born and brought up there – once trying to make ends meet.

    Both the buildings of your grandmother’s and father’s family are still intact, so you will get a glimpse of them to see how they once lived and thrived. Do get on a man-pulled rickshaw to tour the old Chinatown when you visit as it will trigger that strange sense of belonging to be in Calcutta.

    Good luck in your visit. When you are done with, you may want to post the sights and sounds of your Calcutta trip here with stories and first hand experiences so that we can share your exotic journey in search of your roots in Calcutta.

    Cheers.

  10. ycl1688 says:

    Daniel,
    Sorry for the little knowledge about your family root, the class mate I was referring to is last name with CHAN, I believe his mother has an cantonese accent with Hakka, it is another family tragic story with absentee husband for her to raise 4 or 5 kids. As for KT hing and race horses business I am not aware of it. What Esther is describing sounds she is more knowledgeable than me.
    On my occasion visits to calcutta, my personal reflections are during those nehru and the daughter dynasties even the rich cannot stay in this great city, it was the mishandled economy policies that saw long bread lines, kerosine and milk and so on. Not to forget the ’62 border conflict that saw a mass exodus of chinese population.
    yet the city and the country I grew up steadily marching to the first world, it is marching towards western standard, with KFC, Mcdonalds, mercedes and audis i would say it is 70 percent compare to the first world.
    The city main drag such as chowinghee or JL nehru road, you will find Levi’s, addidas, nike and many more. It is a city of traffic jam of worst kind. Yet walking along the hooghly you will see the golden sunset at its full glory. It is a city of contrast, rich and poor, haves and haves not.
    One can only experience and see it in person.
    It would be shocked to see so much has been changed, I am sure if you have to time to meet with current owner of Sin Cheung will be great help, the current owner is Mr Hou, a great person to look up to.
    As Esther mentioned keep us posted and have a good trip. One last note, tell us the many local delicacies that you have tasted, that are unique.
    Not to forget drink bottled or boiled water only.

  11. Daniel says:

    Thank you for all this wonderful information.

    Esther, how do you know so much about my family? This is very interesting! You are correct, I am Peggy’s son. I am Lucy Young’s first born grandchild. My father’s name is Cyril, and his family owned the Chinese theatre with KT HING & Bros. My father has many siblings, the older sister (my aunt ) is named Marion.

    I will certainly visit Sing Cheung and try a man-driven rickshaw when I am there. My Mom’s family (the Youngs) did have a chauffeur and several servants, but they did not have their own private rickshaw.

    I would like to put you in contact with my parents. What is your email address so we can contact you?

  12. Esther says:

    Daniel,

    I had been to both of your parents’ apartments in Calcutta.

    Besides living on the ground floor level flat in Brabourne Court that faced the street, your dad’s family occupied another one ( on first or second floor of same building ( ? ), facing the other direction. Also, your grandmother’s apartment was on first floor ( I think ). It was dark and dimly lit as on low level. Her neighbour was Mr Yen, married an Anglo-Indian wife. Both these buildings could be at least 60 years old if not more, but they are still in use today. So, it is a place that you must visit when in Calcutta.

    So, let us know after your visit.

  13. Bin Laden says:

    Daniel,
    It is so nice to see you guys writing about your ancestors here.
    I happened to be very close to both your grand parents in Calcutta.. It seems you got it all mixed up..
    Your Grandmother from your mother’s side Lucy Young operated Sing Cheung Sauce factory in Dhapa and she used to live in ” Madan Street”.. I knew her very well as she used to organise a lot of parties in Madan Street apartment during here prime days .. As you said she had a LOT of servants and a very big apartment.. ( Her “other” name in Calcutta was ” Maha Rani” which in the Indian language means ” Empress ” LOL ) !!!!!
    If I am not mistaken your last name should be “Chen”. Your mum is the daughter of Mrs. Young.. and she married one of the several sons of a partner of K.T. Hing and Bros.. K.T. Hing was a HUGE set-up during
    the time when the British ruled India.. They had a huge factory in Dhapa outside of the Hakka community in Chingrihatta.. Their ancestors moved from Canton , China to India during the time when the British ruled India.. The last two partners were two brothers by the name of Ah Phuk and Luke. Ah Phuk ( or AP ) as they used to call him used to live in the office in Brabourne Court opposite Sabir’s Restaurant. The younger brother, Luke used to manage the factory in Dhapa single handedly. AP would just sit in Brabourne Court managing the finances. The decline of K. T. Hing started when AP started sending all his children to Canada with the finances of the factory. Due to some reason, he was also legally wanted by the Indian CBI from New Delhi when some Indians died after consuming Sing Chuengs Chilli Sauce.. ( this had something to do with “his relationship with Mrs. Young” ) Before the Indian Government could get hold of him, he asked his poor brother Luke to shoulder all the deficits which was being owed by K. T. Hing at that time and fled to Toronto to live with his sons and daughters. Later, I heard he was sent to some old peoples home in Toronto as none of his siblings wanted to keep him there. ( Well, who likes to keep a worthless old man in his house, especially in Canada as they are all so BUSY !!!) On the other hand Luke was a very simple person.. All his life he was content with his meagre salary of just Indian Rupees 800 ( Eight Hundred )a month and signed a document taking the full burden of K. T. Hing on his shoulders and let AP flee India so that the CBI could not get their hands on him .. The K. T. Hing which had been ” Hollowed out”, Pillaged and Ransacked by AP and left with a NEGATIVE Bank Balance for him by his brother AP.. K. T. Hing no longer had the glory of the days it held during the time of the British when it used to make train carriages, electrical tram cars like we have in San Francisco and Building Elevators.
    Sing Chueng on the other hand was also having trouble with the Indian Food Department due to several deaths caused by its Chilli Sauce sold in New Delhi … The cook of Sing Chueng which Mrs. Young brought over from Hong Kong never let anyone learn his recipe so when it was time for Mrs. Young to immigrate to Canada the cook took over the factory in Dhapa. I wonder if Mrs. Young is still alive ? I haven’t heard about them for many years now.. I used to be very close to both these families as I said, I used to attend the lavish parties thrown by Mrs. Young in her Madan Street apartment.. If you would like to know more about your ancestors, just send me your email. I will be glad to answer any questions you have or anything else you want to know….
    P.S. Don’t go bragging when you arrive in Calcutta that your father’s family owned K. T Hing – Sing Chueng or you maybe arrested.. LOL !!
    .

  14. ycl1688 says:

    Daniel,
    Do not be discouraged by the other person trying to write a soap opera version of your family. The indian govt has lost the files and notes of your ancestors. They are too busy with other problems. They will not bother you. Enjoy your trip.

  15. Daniel says:

    Thank you all for your insight. I am not discouraged by the ‘soap opera version’ of my family history, I am proud of where I come from. I simply want to learn more so that this story is not lost forever.

  16. ycl1688 says:

    Daniel,
    The gentle man at the back room of jenn kee is mr hou the current owner of the SC sauce company.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuR4HF7-gkg&feature=related

  17. ycl1688 says:

    Daniel,
    In case you do not know the back room gentle man is mr hou, current owner of SC company.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuR4HF7-gkg&feature=related

  18. Mukesh P. Sawant says:

    Dear Sir,
    We want to buy sauces for our hotel at mumbai. Please reply as at earliest. Thanks & regards,
    mukesh sawant
    9930013267 / 8888620880
    mukesh sawant