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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.