I'm convinced I ate the equivalent of a whole roasted pig during my time in Singapore and Bali. And if I had made a few more trips to Singapore's buzzing China Town, I'm convinced my consumption of porky delights would have near doubled solely on account of one little shop - Bee Cheng Hiang.
I'd be lying if I said I hadn't heard of it before I went to Singapore. I had. The lovely Didi of D is for Delicious had mentioned it as a must visit and that suggestion was quickly seconded by a friend who lives in Singapore. But it hadn't been top of mind until I actually got to China Town. And ever since then, it's pretty much stayed rather high on the list of stuff I daydream about...
What exactly is the subject of these daydreams? It's the incredibly delicious, greasy, smoky strips of pork - generously smeared in spices and what I guess is honey - that's sold at Bee Cheng Hiang as Gourmet Bakkwa - basically, barbecued bacon on steroids.
Bee Cheng Hiang has been churning out Bakkwa - sheets of spiced minced pork barbecued to the consistency of jerky - since 1933, along with other delicacies like pork floss. But the incredibly addictive Gourmet Bakkwa (which is made from pork belly rather than mince) only made an appearance in 2003, with Chilli Gourmet Bakkwa being introduced to the menu in 2005.
If I lived in Singapore, I can guarantee this would be the downfall of any well-laid diet plans.
The greasy packet of Gourmet Bakkwa I picked up in China Town was devoured almost completely the very evening it was bought. The rest of my days in Singapore were spent trying to resist the urge to snack on what was left of it - an urge that was present even after the most delicious and generously-sized meals. Somehow, the sweet and spicy caramelised strips of pork seemed exactly the sort of thing that was perfect any time of day or night - post lunch, pre-drinks, post-clubbing, pre-breakfast...
And the aroma... mmmmm... just one sniff of those smoky notes was enough to make my (weak to be begin with) self restraint completely evaporate!
Let's just say if I could bring back one thing from Singapore, a giant greasy packet of Gourmet Bakkwa is what that one thing would be :)
Bee Cheng Hiang can be found across Singapore and in Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Philippines and South Korea. I'm guessing any hope of a franchise coming to Dubai would sadly only be wishful thinking...
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