Review: Famous Singapore Bak Kwa, What We Loved And (Kind Of) Hated


February 14, 2018

Singaporeans don’t mind queuing. Sometimes, we even think Singaporeans actually like to queue. Maybe it makes the thing we queue for all that much sweeter. In this case… it’s BAK KWA! So before you queue, read this. We went around the office and did a blind taste test for 5 brands: Fragrance, Kim Joo Guan, Kim Tee, Bee Cheng Hiang and Lim Chee Guan (in order). Here’s what the NYLON team thought about them.



Ranking: ★★★

Fragrance Bak Kwa is at best unassuming, the kind your parents buy home for you to try and when you put it in your mouth you go, okay lor. Kinder folk complimented it for being pretty sweet and easy to chew, while others complained that it had no glaze yet tasted fatty when they ate it. If you put some slices on a plate on a central office desk or dining room table you can be sure it’ll be cleared by the end of the day, but we’d advise you not to eat too much, it could get severely gelat.

Kim Joo Guan


Ranking: ★★★★★

Even at first glance many complimented its appetising appearance and smoky smell, important factors to consider before deciding if something’s worth eating. If you’re a fan of barbecue you’d love Kim Joo Guan Bak Kwa. It’s meaty which means every chew is worth the effort, and there’s an impactful charcoal flavour that’s sunk into the meat so it’s tasty not just on the surface but all over. Some commented it’s much sweeter, a great complement for the salty flavour we love Bak Kwa for anyway. This was overall everyone’s favourite Bak Kwa brand.

Kim Tee

Ranking: ★★

There’re political debates, and then there’re debates over whether a Bak Kwa brand does great charred meat. Many complained Kim Tee Bak Kwa was sandy, burnt and straight-up weird, while others insisted it was downright addictive. There were extreme gut reactions of disgust for Kim Tee Bak Kwa in reaction to how badly the taste hit them, but those who loved it easily went back for more (probably because there were so much left over). More people hated than loved it, but then again to each their own.

Bee Cheng Hiang

Ranking: ★★★★

We were most curious to see how Bee Cheng Hiang Bak Kwa would fair with other arguably less popular brands, and predictably most had positive comments about it. Some called it the chewiest of the Bak Kwas, many felt it tasted familiar and one even called it perfect. It was visibly the thickest cut, but coupled with sweetness and juiciness that would, as another described it, be the best choice for older folk. There was one in the office who hated it, however, calling it weird and comparing its taste to lap cheong.

Lim Chee Guan

Ranking: ★★

With not many words left to describe the taste of Bak Kwa, most shrugged when asked whether or not they liked it. Because honestly, it didn’t have the two elements we love in Bak Kwa: meatiness and smokiness. Many compared it to hotdogs, some even calling it a candy due to its intense sweetness. Aesthetically speaking perhaps even more so, some were reluctant to try it after noticing a glossy bright red sheen that made it look like a plastic toy more than Bak Kwa. Its rather bland flavour left many as unimpressed as when we open our Ang Pao to a $2 note.

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