Not Your Typical Bak Kwa
Adapted from Source: @augustguy78
The eating never ends as a Singaporean. The cycle goes like this: Christmas parties, New Year’s Day countdown, you trying to keep fit for half a month, and then Chinese New Year comes. Time to loosen the belt and get slightly looser clothes as festive, no, feasting season is not over.
Here’s the good news. There’s more than just kueh bangkits and pineapple tarts to stuff yourself silly. We are not just talking about the classic bak kwa. We are talking about vegetarian bak kwa or even *gasps* DURIAN bak kwa!
Hurry, dive into this list and let your eyes be opened to the rich world of that piece of sweet meat.
1. Pineapple Bak Kwa by Kim Peng Hiang
You will now learn the secret to the queue: Pineapples are used as meat tenderisers. In this seemingly humble piece of bak kwa, you can actually see shreds of pineapples in the piece of meat. No wonder a piece of Pineapple Bak Kwa is almost double the size of the usual ones.
This little shop, along with a second outlet in Chinatown also mashes up another popular Chinese ingredient – fa choy. Also known as Nostoc Flagelliforme, its Chinese name is synonymous with prosperity and can be found in many Chinese New Year dishes. Bring a pack of Fa Choy Bak Kwa with you wherever you go and amaze people with your ability to digest what seems to be hair mixed in meat!
Price: Pineapple Bak Kwa ($48/kg), Fa Choy Bak Kwa ($45/kg)
Kim Peng Hiang – Changi Road
Address: 465 Changi Road, Singapore 419886
Opening Hours: 9am – 7pm (Mon to Sat)
Kim Peng Hiang – Chinatown
Address: People’s Park Complex Food Centre, 32 New Market Road, #01-1044, Singapore 050032
Opening Hours: 9.30am – 7pm (Mon to Sun, closed on alternate Tue)
2. Vegetarian Bak Kwa by Friendly Vegetarian
My friends and I used to imagine how hard it would be to survive Chinese New Year without a taste of any of the goodies, including bak kwa. Oh, the chills we used to get. Friendly Vegetarian, with their niche in vegetarian food since 1988, produces a Vegetarian Bak Kwa with zero animal products.
Solely soy and mushroom-based, your perspective towards vegetarian food will change with one of their bak kwa. You can even order online from their website and pick it up at either of its two branches. It is more convenient to satisfy a vegetarian’s craving than you think.
Friendly Vegetarian – Ang Mo Kio
Address: Block 421 Ang Mo Kio Ave 10, #01-1165, Singapore 560421
Telephone: 64566607 / 64566749
Opening Hours: 8am – 6pm (Mon to Sat), 8am – 1pm (Public Holidays)
Friendly Vegetarian – Pasir Panjang
Address: Block 14 Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre, #01-23/24, Singapore 110001
Telephone: 67791488 / 67798341
Opening Hours: 8am – 5:30pm (Mon to Sat), 8am – 1pm (Public Holidays)
3. Apple-Wood/Lychee-Wood Smoked Bak Kwa by Golden Bridge Foods
Flavour-baked hams are commonly found in supermarkets – but food innovators have discovered a way to add an extra dimension of flavour to our favourite bak kwa. Introducing Apple-wood and Lychee-wood Smoked Bak Kwa.
The tartness of apple gently cuts through the smokiness of the meat, preventing the usually jelak feel we all get from bak kwa overdose. It is time to say your last goodbye to those resolutions you made.
A bak kwa angel told me that a pack of these cost a lot cheaper than commercially available ones. Buy them online and its price can be as low as $31.25/kg! Be prepared to say hi to the next notch on your belt, especially if bak kwa sent right to your doorstep is your kind of service. Drilling another belt hole for myself now. Will be right back.
Price: $31.25/kg (U.P. $41/kg), No shipping fee for self-collection and orders over $20.
Address: 30 Senoko South Road, Singapore 758088
Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm (Mon to Fri), 9am – 12pm (Sat)
4. Fish Bak Kwa by Ocean King
Now we are in the zone of pushing boundaries. Imagine luncheon meat made of fish. Well, they’ve only gone and made bak kwa from Salmon, Tuna, and Marlin too. The best part of having Fish Bak Kwa is that it is Halal! Now your Muslim friends have something more than kueh bangkit to fill their tummies with when they visit.
You will have to order from their website choose to either collect your order at its outlets or have it delivered straight to your doorsteps. Psst, there is no delivery fee for all orders above $120!
Price: Salmon ($9/100g or $73/kg), Marlin and Tuna ($8/100g or $68/kg)
Ocean King – Dickson Road
Address: 30 Dickson Road, Singapore 209512
Opening Hours: 11am – 11pm (Wed to Mon)
Ocean King – Chinatown
Address: 39 Pagoda St, Singapore 059198
Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm (Mon to Sun)
5. Rock Sugar Honey Bak Kwa by Fragrance
This will satisfy your young cousins without them reaching out for those artificially-flavoured sweets. The best thing about using honey when cooking meat is how the meat shines after the entire process of marinating, flaming, and setting. A piece of Rock Sugar Honey Bak Kwa achieves a strong balance between sweet and savoury.
Even after finishing the pack, there will be meat drippings left in the packet. Sweep them all up in style with a piece of bread to have a small taste of heaven.
6. Crocodile Bak Kwa by Fragrance
This takes the humble bak kwa a league higher. There are only four ingredients in Crocodile Bak Kwa: Herbs, sugar, oil, and of course, croc meat. In traditional Chinese medicine, many believe that meat from the monstrous reptile can aid in suppressing asthma! Fancy an effect like this coming from a snack that can potentially ahem, take your breath away.
Fragrance loves to push boundaries at their stores. They also take Berkshire pork or kurobuta, pepper it with spices and herbs and send it into the grill in ensuring that every bite from the Kurobuta Bak Kwa remains succulent.
If you are still stuck in the Christmas season, they also prepare bak kwa from turkey! The Turkey Bak Kwa is significantly denser to the bite and surprisingly moist, unlike those on Thanksgiving dinners.
Price: Crocodile ($89/kg), Berkshire pork ($74.10/kg), Turkey ($65/kg)
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Address: 39 outlets island wide
Opening Hours: 10am – 8pm (Mon – Sun)
7. Duck Bak Kwa by Xi Shi Bak Kwa
If chicken and turkey are too mainstream for your inner hipster, try Duck Bak Kwa from Xi Shi Bak Kwa. With this in the game, roasted duck is going to lose its place in the Chinese New Year feasts. Peppered with spice, there is no hint of cloying gaminess that you usually find in sub-par joints. This is one form of poultry that I will definitely come back to! Peking duck, you will not be missed.
And oh, it is on 30% off from Xi Shi Bak Kwa’s e-store.
Price: $52.08/kg (U.P. $60), No shipping fee for self-collection and also for orders over $80.
8. Monascus Rice Wine Marinade Bak Kwa by Xi Shi Bak Kwa
Better known as red yeast rice, Monascus is believed to be a cholesterol-lowering agent. No better irony infusing it into our favourite artery-clogging piece of meat. Also from Xi Shi Bak Kwa, having a bite of Monascus Marinade Bak Kwa brings joy into healthy eating.
According to reviews, umami is the MVP here. The richness of meat along with the earthiness of monascus come together nicely with people eating more and more. Clean eating should not be this tough. Ugh.
Price: $40.86/kg (U.P $48), No shipping fee for self-collection and also for orders over $80.
9. Cinnamon Bak Kwa by Xi Shi Bak Kwa
If there is one thing that encompasses both Christmas and Chinese New Year elements, it will be a piece of Cinnamon Bak Kwa. Have a cup of tea along with it and you can feel the tinge of sweetness from the cinnamon dancing at the back of your tongue.
Xi Shi Bak Kwa also offers memorable flavour notes such as Parmesan Cheese Bak Kwa, Oregano Bak Kwa and Paprika Bak Kwa. Fusion cooking doesn’t have to be on fancy plates after all.
Price: $39/kg for all (U.P. $43), No shipping fee for self-collection and also for orders over $80.
Address: Block 15 Woodlands Loop, #02-37, Singapore 738322
Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm (Mon to Sun)
10. Lobster Bak Kwa by Hu Zhen Long
At Hu Zhen Long, experimentation is the name of the game. They give bak kwa a new life and the massive crowd here proves that innovation works, especially with its signature Lobster Bak Kwa.
On the surface, the house best-seller looks just like any other bak kwa but after a bite in, the sweetness of lobster is the first thing that you will notice. Accompanying that is the subtly bitter char on the bak kwa itself.
It was like a trap. Having both taste notes on your palate for the first time might confuse you but it was that confusion which kept me wanting to try more.
11. Durian Bak Kwa by Hu Zhen Long
Priced at $120/kg, this is the most expensive bak kwa we have on the list. Also, it is the hardest to make sense of. It is not even durian season yet and Hu Zhen Long is already on to something. Move away durian steamboat, it’s now the time of Durian Bak Kwa.
With actual mao shan wang durian added into our favourite Chinese New Year deli, the queue for Durian Bak Kwa was filled with both locals and tourists alike. Be sure to get this if you love both durian and bak kwa and get ready for a clash of flavours.
Just don’t get caught by Chinese medicine experts a.k.a. your grandparents when you’re devouring the pack as both bak kwa and durian are known to be ‘heaty’ food which can potentially cause severe sore throat and constipation. Then again…
A milder and more pocket-friendly option will be Coffee Bak Kwa. Though less intense than durian in taste, this brings back sweet nostalgia of grandma’s coffee pork ribs. Good times, good times.
While you’re there, do your wallet a favour and check out the food you can get in Chinatown under $6 after the heartbreaking bak kwa splurge.
Price: Durian ($120/kg), Coffee ($60/kg)
Address: 14 Sago St, Singapore 059015
Opening Hours:10am – 8pm (Mon to Sun)
1. Lemongrass Beef Bak Kwa by Reddotkitchen.com
This pack of bak kwa condenses the flavour profile of the Indochina all in one piece of Lemongrass Beef Bak Kwa. I cannot imagine something else other than chilli, lemongrass and holy basil that can describe Indochina cuisine and this bak kwa nails it.
From the reviews, the scent of the lemongrass was easily distinguishable from the richness of beef. Hints of citrus could also be felt, enhancing the deep flavours of the Angus.
The Indochina aside, they also bring the heat from Mexico into bak kwa. The Spicy Chipotle Beef Bak Kwa will change your perspective of how chipotle should taste like aside from McDonald’s once-a-year offering. To finish things off, cayenne pepper is generously dusted. Perfect for the chilli-cruncher within you.
Sadly, the online store only ships to states in North America so if you have friends in the continent, you know what to do.
2. Bark-Kwa by Sgbarkery.com
If you don’t know yet, your pet dog can join in your Chinese New Year feasts too! Choose between pork or beef for pooch and witness him devour the entire pack in no time. The pork option is not only made from lean pork leg but also seasoned to the taste of apple cinnamon while the beef option goes Italian with sprinkles of oregano.
After getting those treats, bring your faithful companion for a walk in this colourful neighbourhood with our guide to Joo Chiat and burn off those calories together! Now you don’t have to feel guilty about eating all those bak kwa alone. With a bingeing buddy, it’s going to be the best start to your year yet.
Price: From $12.80 – $35, depending amount bought.
Address: 326 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427583
Telephone: 6247 7321
Opening Hours: 10am – 8pm (Tue to Sat), 10am – 6pm (Sun), Closed on Mondays
It Is Not Just About Bak Kwa
Celebrating with food is one of my favourite things to do but in recent years, it turns out that what really matter to me during Chinese New Year is not so much of the goodies but the fact that I get to hang out with people who witness me grow up. Appreciating and sincerely talking to them suddenly makes more sense than staring down at my iPhone and watching that one feng shui uncle giving predictions every countdown.
Don’t let food steal the show but instead, let these curious bak kwa be your conversation starter. Food is an amazing tool to build bonds and strengthen relationships.
Fun fact: One piece of bak kwa contains 370 calories which you will have to jog over 100 minutes to burn off. Good luck.