Yung Kee: Preserving tradition and authenticity in a constantly changing world
The contrast of old and new is a reality of the modern world. Innovation and technology continues to revolutionise society, while people everywhere strive to protect their unique histories and identities. This delicate balance of evolution and preservation characterises many of the challenges individuals, businesses, and governments continue to face globally.
Hong Kong's iconic status as a global city is enshrined in history. It was known as one of the "Four Asian Tigers" – territories experiencing rapid industrial growth and innovation from after the 1950s to the 1990s. Back then, Hong Kong established itself as a centre of culture in Asia – its arts, films, and food culture were enjoyed by people globally.
Today's Hong Kong is arguably more commercialised, and less of a cultural exporter than it once was. But there has been a renewed local interest in preserving cultural heritage. Moreover, Hong Kong's food culture has blossomed with the times – partly thanks to the age of smartphones, and the seemingly universal hobby of sharing food experiences on social media.
While many brands with historic cultural significance have come and gone over the decades, one brand that has remained – since 1942 – is Yung Kee Restaurant, known for its charcoal-grilled barbecue meats (especially roast goose) and classic Cantonese fare.
Yung Kee was serving customers as a street stall before the city became known as a global powerhouse. As the city established itself globally after the 50s, Yung Kee became known as a popular destination for quality Cantonese cuisine at the heart of Hong Kong. Now, in the age of foodie blogs, photo sharing apps, and renewed interest in cultural heritage, Yung Kee stands as a restaurant known for timeless authenticity. Yung Kee balances evolution and preservation by turning its historic value and qualities into something modern.
"We have been finding new ways to interact with people and communicate that we aren't just a place for roast goose and classic Cantonese cuisine", said Yung Kee's CFO Ms Yvonne Kam. "Every corner has a story. We are a place with 75 years of cooking tradition, with much of it being tied to Hong Kong history. We hope people of all ages and backgrounds will come to appreciate our passion and dedication to culinary heritage".
Yung Kee embarked on a brand refresh campaign during its 70th anniversary in 2012, and went on to define its new brand promise: "While trends may come and go with new cuisines explored, at Yung Kee, we strive to maintain the essential ingredient to our long-standing and future success – authentically good taste". Yung Kee aims to achieve this by emphasising authenticity, time-tested techniques, quality ingredients, and serving fondly familiar dishes in an inviting ambience.
As an enterprising business, Yung Kee has fully committed to adopting modern branding methods to stay connected with customers. This includes developing interactive content and trivia related to Cantonese culinary history, nurturing relationships with customers across digital platforms, and collaborating with innovative companies.
As Hong Kong's business landscape continues to evolve, so brands must also preserve that traditional culture. Yung Kee is one of the few that has been there since the beginning, with its growth meaningfully mirroring the development Hong Kong has seen as a city. In that sense, Yung Kee's history will forever be linked to Hong Kong history