We've all seen the insane queues, but whose bak kwa is worth the devotion? We round-up the best shops in Singapore to get your hands on some tasty Chinese pork jerky – from traditional to unique flavours!
It’s not really Chinese New Year without pigging out on copious amounts of heart-burning festive snacks, the most popular of which is undoubtedly bak kwa – sweet, smoky pork jerky. And it’s gotta have those charred edges. There’s no shortage of stores hawking this savoury delight, with each of them being ardently defended by its munching advocates – and they’ve got the snaking queues to prove it. To make it easier for you to navigate the wonderful world of bak kwa, we’ve come up with our own list of favourite purveyors of this scrumptious snack.
Peng Guan Bak Kwa
While Peng Guan lacks in variety, it more than makes up for in quality. Every order of bak kwa is handmade from scratch and made only to order so you know you’re getting the absolute freshest. Choose between traditional bak kwa for the purists, and chilli bak kwa for you spice fiends (from $24).
Peng Guan Bak Kwa, #02-36, Block 335, Smith Street, Chinatown Complex, Singapore 050335
If you’d like to contribute a little something to your reunion dinner, (aside from ang paos and oranges), artisanal bak kwa made with a century-old recipe is the way to go. Prepared by gourmet specialists, Double Eight, Shangri-La Hotel’s premium pork shoulder cut bak kwa is prepared in small batches so you get a full flavour blast of sweet and smokey goodness. The beautifully packed sleek box ($70 for 600 grams) also makes for a great gift.
Shophouse by Shangri-La Hotel, 22 Orange Grove Road, Singapore 258350
Surprise, surprise! If you love their meatballs (who doesn’t!), go ahead and have a taste of Ikea’s bak kwa. We tried them ourselves and were pleasantly surprised; it’s actually pretty decent, with the right amount of sweetness and smokiness. Plus, it comes in the iconic Ikea-style box at $20.80 that’s just too good not to add to your cart.
Ikea, available at Ikea Alexandra and Ikea Tampines.
Sang Hock Guan
If you really wanna go old-school, make your way to Sang Hock Guan for authentic, traditional bak kwa. This quaint little old-school shop in Ang Mo Kio might not be the first that pops in mind when the craving strikes but it’s definitely on par with the contenders on this list. Heads up if you’re ordering in advance, they sell out pretty fast!
Sang Hock Guan, Blk 163 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4, #01-446 Singapore 560163
Bee Cheng Hiang
Home-grown favourite Bee Cheng Hiang is definitely one of the most popular choices and is practically a household name when it comes to bak kwa. If the ridiculously long queues during CNY are any indication, Bee Cheng Hiang is a pretty safe bet if you’re looking for the classic sliced pork bak kwa ($33.00 for 600g).
Bee Cheng Hiang, various locations.
Kim Joo Guan
Using a traditional recipe handed down for four generations; the Ong family is well in touch with their craft. All its bak kwa offerings are made with grain-fed Australian pork and char-grilled for a subtle smoky flavour. Fans of the classic bak kwa should try the traditional pork slices ($50 for 1kg) while those looking for a spicy kick will love the chilli pork slices ($52 for 1kg) instead.
Kim Joo Guan, 257 South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058806
For a side of feel-good factor with your bak kwa, we rate the premium bak kwa at Ryan’s Grocery ($48.80 for 500g). The Honeycombers team spent a good afternoon munching on their take on this CNY treat, which is made with hormone- and antibiotic-free, free-range Borrowdale pork from Queensland, uses 50 per cent less salt and sugar than most, and is free from additives, preservatives and food colouring. Quite the mouthful. They sell out fast so best you make an order, stat! This butcher and gourmet grocery is one of the best sources of gluten-free and specialty goodies alongside ethically sourced meat – for more CNY goodness, check out the free-range shabu shabu sets, to a nutritious organic rainbow yu sheng.
Ryan’s Grocery, 29 Binjai Park, Singapore 589831
Kim Hock Guan
Another stalwart that has stood the test of time is the venerable Kim Hock Guan. With a history that dates back to 1906, Kim Hock Guan remains a family-owned and operated business with a loyal following. The brand utilises century-old production methods to dish out their traditional BBQ sliced pork and spicy sliced pork bak kwa. Kim Hock Guan avoids minced meat, so this one will be a favourite if you like the chewier and more richly-flavoured variety of bak kwa.
Kim Hock Guan, various locations.
Lim Chee Guan
Another local favourite, Lim Chee Guan also manages to attract insanely long queues during the CNY period. If you’re not too fond of sweeter bak kwas like at Bee Cheng Hiang and Fragrance, you should definitely give Lim Chee Guan a shot for their tender slices.
Lim Chee Guan, three outlets including New Bridge Road, People’s Park Complex and Ion Orchard.
Kim Hwa Guan
While not as big a player in the bak kwa game as the aforementioned stores, Kim Hwa Guan has its own loyal following who favour its tender, thinly sliced bak kwa. The bak kwa here comes in sealed bags as well, perfect for preserving that glazed crunchy surface (they don’t skimp on the marinade!).
Kim Hwa Guan, #01-1022 People’s Park Complex Cooked Food Centre, 32 New Market Road, Singapore 050032
You’re really spoilt for choice here. In addition to regular and spicy bak kwas, Fragrance offers bacon, red yeast, honey, Kurobuta and, if you’re still in a Christmas-y mood, turkey bak kwa. Fragrance also takes the cake for having the single strangest offering: crocodile bak kwa. This year, you can also find adorable pig-shaped Kurobuta Bak Kwa on the list!
Fragrance Bak Kwa, various locations.
While meat-lovers may scoff at the idea of vegetarian bak kwa, Friendly Vegetarian’s offerings make sure your vegetarian mates aren’t left out of this CNY tradition.
Friendly Vegetarian, 421 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, #01-1165, Singapore 560421
Goodwood Park Hotel
Marinated in the hotel’s special blend of spices, the bak kwa is tender, not too dry, and practically melts in your mouth. The bak kwa ($56 for 600g) is also pre-cut into small slices which makes it so easy to just gorge ourselves endlessly on this fabulously delicious treat!
Goodwood Park Hotel, 22 Scotts Road, Singapore 228221
Hu Zhen Long
They’ve been around since 1948 and the current shopfront still evokes a sense of nostalgia with its traditional decor and wooden displays. Besides their traditional bak kwa, other unique flavours include crocodile meat bak kwa and BBQ lobster meat bak kwa.
Hu Zhen Long, 14 Sago Street, Singapore 059015
Kim Peng Hiang
Fancy a bit more luck and prosperity for CNY? Check out the Pineapple Bak Kwa here at Kim Peng Hiang, a unique combination of savoury and sweet. Another interesting flavour is the Fa Choy BBQ Chicken that offers a non-pork option for the delicacy. But if you’re keen to stick to the traditional tastes, their sliced royal pork Bak Kwa is tender and juicy, and comes in bright red packaging suitable for gifting.
Kim Peng Hiang, 465 Changi Road, Singapore 419886
Xi Shi Bak Kwa
Established since 1985, the bak kwa here is still made using traditional methods instead of modern machinery and traditional Chinese herbs are part of the recipe. As such, you get innovative choices including Monascus Bak Kwa (homemade Monascus rice wine is used to marinate the pork), Chicken Seaweed Sesame Bak Kwa, and Duck Bak Kwa which is made from hand-sliced duck breast.
Xi Shi Bak Kwa, order online.