We've all seen the insane queues, but whose bak kwa is worth the devotion?
It’s not really Chinese New Year without ang baos. Or 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. We’ve got no shortage of stores hawking this savoury delight, each of them ardently defended by their 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.
Best bak kwa in Singapore
Peng Guan Bak Kwa
What Peng Guan lacks in variety, it more than makes up for in quality. Every order is handmade from scratch and done to order so you know you’re getting the absolute freshest. Choose between traditional options for the purists and chilli bak kwa for you spice fiends.
Peng Guan Bak Kwa, #02-36, Chinatown Complex, Block 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335
Kim Joo Guan
Using a traditional recipe that’s been handed down over four generations, the Ong family is well in touch with their craft. All the bak kwa offerings are made with grain-fed Australian pork and char-grilled for a subtle, smoky flavour. Fans of classic bak kwa should try the traditional pork slices ($57 for 1kg), while the mala-flavoured pork slices ($39 for 500g) will satisfy any spice lovers.
Kim Joo Guan, multiple locations including South Bridge Road and Royal Square @ Novena
Bee Cheng Hiang
Homegrown favourite Bee Cheng Hiang is definitely one of the most popular choices. It’s practically a household name when it comes to bak kwa. If the ridiculously long queues during CNY are any indication, the brand’s a pretty safe bet to satiate your cravings for the classic sliced pork bak kwa ($33.60 for 600g). For a spicy kick, there’s the chilli variant.
Bee Cheng Hiang, multiple locations including Jewel Changi Airport, Nex and Suntec City
Kim Peng Hiang
Fancy a bit more luck and prosperity for CNY? Check out the family-run store’s pineapple bak kwa, a unique combination of savoury and sweet. But if you’re keen to stick to the traditional taste, the sliced royal pork creation is tender and juicy, and comes in bright red packaging suitable for gifting. Just beware of the long lines, because you will be waiting for a while.
Kim Peng Hiang, 465 Changi Road, Singapore 419886
For a side of feel-good factor with your snack, we recommend the gourmet version at Ryan’s Grocery ($53.90 for 500g). The store’s take on this CNY treat, which is made with free-range Borrowdale pork from Australia – sans hormones and antibiotics –uses 60 per cent less salt and sugar than most. It’s also free from additives, preservatives and food colourings. These sell out fast so you’d best make an order, stat! Oh, and if you place your order before 28 Jan, you get to enjoy a 10% discount.
Ryan’s Grocery, multiple locations including Great World City and 29 Binjai Park
Sang Hock Guan
If you really wanna go old school, make your way here for authentic, traditional treats. This quaint little old school shop in Ang Mo Kio might not be the first thing that pops to 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 – it sells out pretty fast!
Sang Hock Guan, #01-446, Blk 163 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4, Singapore 560163
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 1905, it remains a family-owned and operated business with a loyal following. The brand utilises century-old production methods to dish out its traditional BBQ sliced pork and spicy sliced pork bak kwa. Plus, it avoids minced meat, so this one will be a favourite if you like yours chewier and more richly-flavoured.
Kim Hock Guan, multiple locations including 150 South Bridge Road and Bencoolen Street
Hu Zhen Long
It’s been around since 1948 and the current shopfront still evokes a sense of nostalgia with its traditional decor and wooden displays. Besides the traditional charcoal-grilled bak kwa, other unique flavours include crocodile meat and BBQ lobster variations.
Hu Zhen Long, 14 Sago Street, Singapore 059015
You’re really spoilt for choice here. In addition to regular and spicy versions (from $23), Fragrance offers bacon, red yeast, honey, Kurobuta and, if you’re still in a Christmas mood, turkey bak kwa. It also takes the cake for having one of the strangest offerings: crocodile bak kwa. Any adventurous eaters in the house?
Fragrance, multiple locations including The Centrepoint and 233 New Bridge Road
While protein-heads may scoff at the idea of meatless bak kwa, this store’s BBQ soy jerky offering ($6.96 for 250g) makes sure your vegetarian mates aren’t left out of the CNY tradition.
Friendly Vegetarian, #01-1165, Blk 421 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, Singapore 560421
Kim Hwa Guan
While not as big a player in the bak kwa game as several other stores, Kim Hwa Guan has its own loyal following who favour its tender, thinly sliced nibbles. The pieces here come in sealed bags as well. Perfect for preserving that glazed crunchy surface (the store doesn’t skimp on the marinade!).
Kim Hwa Guan, multiple locations including Balestier Road and Toa Payoh Lorong 1
Lim Chee Guan
Another local favourite, Lim Chee Guan also attracts insanely long queues during the CNY period. If you’re not too fond of the sweeter varieties of bak kwa, give this place a shot for its tender slices (from $30).
Lim Chee Guan, multiple locations including People’s Park Complex and Ion Orchard
Championing made-to-order organic tempeh, this plant-based company has pushed the creative boundary with its vegetarian bak kwa. Made from scratch and without preservatives, the meatless version ($58 for 888 grams) is created with 100% tempeh alongside ingredients like honey, shoyu, five-spice powder, red wine and vinegar. CNY is starting to look pretty inclusive this year with innovative treats like these.
Angie’s Tempeh, available online
Xi Shi Bak Kwa
Established since 1985, the store’s bak kwa is still made using traditional methods instead of modern machinery. Chinese herbs are also part of the recipe. As such, you get innovative choices including monascus bak kwa (homemade monascus rice wine is used to marinate the pork), ginseng bak kwa and duck bak kwa.
Xi Shi Bak Kwa, available online
Time to get your fingers dirty!