Chinese New Year is almost here, which is why you should get your bak kwa order in, right now. Here’s where to find the best bak kwa in Singapore.
You won’t see the bigger brands on our bak kwa hit list. Not that they’re bad, but those companies are like the McDonald’s of the pork jerky world, and this story is more about highlighting the independent stall owners and small chains up against Big Bak Kwa.
Among them are multiple stores named Kim – the Bak Kwa Kim Club, if you will. There’s also Chai Ho, a satay stall that sells bak kwa when Chinese New Year comes around, and Sang Hock Guan, which has been occupying a corner of Ang Mo Kio for decades.
Xishi is by a former dim sum chef turned bak kwa purveyor, while Hu Zhen Long started out selling sesame oil before turning to the more lucrative pork jerky. We also included options from modern food retailers such as The Marmalade Pantry, Goodwood Park Hotel and Century Bakkwa.
For more Chinese New Year goodies, see our guide to yu sheng and CNY snacks.
Where to get the best bak kwa in Singapore this Chinese New Year:
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Located in People’s Park Food Centre, Bee Kim Heng has been operating since 1951. They still maintain the old way by barbecuing bak kwa over charcoal, which injects a delightfully smoky fragrance into every tender bite. The stall is open only from Saturdays to Mondays, but they sell online.
Saturdays – Mondays, 10am – 6pm
(Image credit: Bee Kim Heng)
Century Bakkwa hauls the snack into the 21st century by offering it in guises that contemporary gourmands will identify with. Flavours include lychee, black truffle, and yuzu osmanthus, which are made with Spanish pork, and a more luxurious version produced with black Iberico pork. All bak kwa are charcoal-grilled.
Tuesdays – Sundays, 10am – 6pm
(Image credit: Century Bakkwa / Facebook)
It’s common to see a line of people waiting to order Chai Ho’s satay, but come Chinese New Year, the queue grows longer as the stall adds bak kwa to their repertoire. Like their satay, the bak kwa is beautifully charred, and the thin slices stay juicy and tender.
Wednesdays – Sundays, 2pm – 8pm. Advance order is required.
(Image credit: @a.sp00nful / Instagram)
Hu Zhen Long started producing sesame oil in 1948 before adding bak kwa in 1972. Today, they’re known primarily for their pork jerky, which they charcoal grill until tender. They also offer other meats like beef, lobster and crocodile.
Daily, 10am – 6.30pm
(Image credit: Hu Zhen Long)
Bacon meets bak kwa at Kim Hock Seng, which turns the popular cut into Singapore’s beloved snack. Created by owner Ong Geok Hoo, his signature honey bacon bak kwa is smoked overnight over charcoal, sliced, and grilled right before serving, making it luscious and soft thanks to the streaks of fat that runs throughout the meat.
Daily, 11am – 9pm
(Image credit: Kim Hock Seng / Facebook)
Kim Hua Guan was founded in the 1960s by Mr Ng. They offer bak kwa made either from minced or sliced pork; minced meat is shaped into slices before grilling, while the sliced version is made by cut out from a solid block of meat. Each item offers a different texture, but they’re all soft and tender with a sweet and roasty flavour.
Daily, 9am – 6pm
(Image credit: @thebelly_eats / Instagram)
Established in 1977, Kim Joo Guan’s recipe has been a part of the Ong family spanning four generations. They use Australian grain-fed fresh pork, chilled instead of frozen, which they grill over charcoal. The meat is sweet and caramelised, with a slightly higher ratio of lean meat to fat. They also offer pork belly bak kwa — think crispy bacon — and chilli bak kwa.
Locations in Chinatown and Novena.
(Image credit: Kim Joo Guan / Facebook)
Kim Peng Hiang is popular for their pineapple bak kwa. The store has been in the family since the 1930s, and claims to be the inventor of their signature item (there is another brand called New Peng Hiang that sells the same product). The meat is slightly thicker, but it’s pliant and juicy backed by pineapple sweetness.
Tuesdays – Sundays, 10am – 7pm
(Image credit: Kim Peng Hiang / Facebook)
Teo Kim Tee started his namesake brand in the 1970s at his Adam Road kampong. He eventually moved to Serangoon Gardens, and the original location still remains today with four other outlets around the island. The bak kwa is char grilled over a charcoal stove for an aromatic, tender bite.
Locations around Singapore.
(Image credit: @kimtee.sg / Instagram)
Kim Wah Heong was founded by Teo Kim Wah in 1981 at Farrer Road Food Centre. The former pig butcher still maintains the charcoal grill to make his bak kwa, which he says gives the meat a distinctly smoky flavour while retaining its juiciness.
Tuesdays – Sundays, 8am – 1.30pm
(Image credit: Kim Wah Heong)
Lim Chee Guan was founded in 1938 by Lim Kay Eng. Armed with his own recipe, Lim set up shop in Chinatown and eventually became known for his thin slices of bak kwa flipped constantly over charcoal. Now run by his descendants, the brand has two outlets in Chinatown, as well as one in Orchard Road and Jewel respectively.
Locations around Singapore.
(Image credit: Lim Chee Guan / Facebook)
Peng Guan was founded in 2014 by Zhang Ziyue and Lee Kok Keong — a relatively young business — but Zhang grew up in a family involved in the bak kwa trade. Made from Brazilian pork, the bak kwa is hand sliced and charcoal-grilled, which the company says offer more consistent texture and flavour. The duo also sells bak kwa bao made from minced pork.
Tuesdays – Saturdays, 10am – 3.45pm
(Image credit: Peng Guan)
Hidden in the heartlands of Ang Mo Kio, Sang Hock Guan is an old school bak kwa shop that seems to be perpetually clouded with charcoal smoke. The meat is gently charred and soft, with a balance between savoury and sweet notes.
Daily, 9.30am – 9.30pm
(Image credit: Sang Hock Guan Dried & Minced Pork / Facebook)
Goodwood Park Hotel’s bak kwa is marinated in a proprietary blend of spices and barbecued. It’s alluringly smoky with burnished char, and has a fine balance between lean and fatty meat. Sold pre-cut in small slices for convenience.
Available until 5 February 2023.
(Image credit: Goodwood Park Hotel)
The Marmalade Pantry offers an alternative to the traditional pork bak kwa. They make theirs from chicken thighs, which are seasoned with a fish sauce-based marinate and smoked over charcoals. No meat tenderiser, preservatives, artificial colouring, flavouring, or MSG is added. Each piece is individually vacuum-packed.
Available now till 5 February 2023.
(Image credit: The Marmalade Pantry / Facebook)
Wu Chin Leong can trace its lineage back to 1979, when the brand first started in Jurong. Now in Clementi with a modernised brand, the family-owned business offers bak kwa that is not as sweet as the competition, but is just as tender and aromatic. Wu Chin Leong also sells a fiery chilli version.
Weekdays, 11am – 8pm
Weekends, 11am – 6pm
(Image credit: Wu Chin Leong Foodstuff Trading / Facebook)
Xishi was started by Koh Hock Bin in the 1970s. Initially a chef at a dim sum restaurant, he was roped in by the neighbouring bak kwa stall to help out during a manpower shortage. Koh stayed on and eventually inherited the recipe, and now offers different iterations on the original. There are flavours such as mushroom, mala, pineapple, ginseng and stout, as well as chicken bak kwa.
(Image credit: Xishi Bakkwa / Facebook)
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Singapore