Taste test: best bak kwa in Singapore

Buck bak kwa queues – longer lines do not necessarily mean more delicious roast pork. Wong Yoon Sann and the Time Out Singapore team brave the pre-Chinese New Year queue and puts six meat jerky slices to the test.
Bak kwa taste test
By Time Out Singapore editors |
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How we did it The bak kwa were all bought anonymously and tasted on the same day. The taste tests were all done blind – each slice was allocated an alphabet and tasters were asked to rank the appearance and taste of each slice. 

Lim Chee Guan, $54/kg

icon-location-pin Raffles Place

Sadly, despite its high level of patronage, Lim Chee Guan disappointed. Its erratic cut makes the slices unsuitable for gift giving – holey middles surrounded by pale dots in the meat made it look unappetising. The flavour complied with appearance – the oil tasted like it was used two times too many, and one of us managed to escape swallowing a pig’s hair.

Kim Hua Guan, $50/kg

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Just a stone’s throw from Bee Kim Heng is this outfit operated by a cheerful bunch. Sadly, the roast pork didn’t leave us feeling as jolly. Its queer, dyed colour resembled a briyani shade of orange. The slice looked like it had been plastered together from individual strips of pork. Its inconsistent flavour left some of us with a mouthful of bland meat.

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Bee Kim Heng, $46/kg

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Family run stall Bee Kim Heng – manned by an elder tucked away to the corner of People’s Park Food Centre – grills pork slices that come off as a tad too red, giving it an almost artificial exterior. Its ruby and translucent look isn't helped by the absence of a sear. In addition to being sticky to the touch, its hard texture and taste reminded us of (lap cheong) Chinese sausages.

Kim Joo Guan, $50/kg

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This supplier-turned-seller of roasted pork uses a spice mix based on an old family recipe from Fujian, China. Kim Choo Guan prides itself on using Australian grain-fed fresh pork, and while we savoured the chewy texture of its pork slice, the over-burnt surface and extremely oily coating left a cloying note on our palate.

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Fragrance, $54/kg

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Fragrance is an eye-catching store with its orange signage and sale posters. Its meat offering here is stamped with grill marks, and the sweet marinade stood out from the others in a good way. It would have been better if the pork was juicier and less tough to chew.

The Winner: Bee Cheng Hiang, $55/kg

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The surprise winner from our taste test. Bee Cheng Hiang's become almost synonymous with bak kwa in Singapore, selling its version of caramelised meat from a modest hawker cart since 1933. The slice from here's an almost perfect square with an inviting char on the sweet and salty marinade. The texture was a tad bit dry, but we nevertheless appreciate the absence of an overwhelming aftertaste from this pork piece.

Find out what else is happening during Chinese New Year

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