Bakkwa is a food item commonly associated with Chinese New Year; a popular snack. They are thin slices of dried meat, preserved and prepared with techniques originating from China. Of course, as times change, so do the bakkwa. Today, you can most commonly see bakkwa being grilled over charcoal, and bakkwa is usually made of pork, though you can also find chicken, mutton, and other varieties in the market. What’s more, bakkwa is also increasingly innovative, and Xishibakkwa where you can find both traditional and innovative bakkwa under one roof!
Founded by Mr Koh Hock Bin in 1985, Xishibakkwa is a bakkwa brand through and through. But what’s different about them is that they don’t only sell bakkwa, but they also reinvent bakkwa, coming up with new flavours to complement the base recipe of (traditional) bakkwa. Prior to its founding, Mr Koh was a young chap learning the ropes of Hong Kong Dim Sum besides a bakkwa shop. The festive season rolled around, and the chef of the bakkwa shop enlisted Mr Koh to help out, due to a shortage of manpower. Mr Koh was soon recognised as a talented and hardworking young man, and so the chef asked him to stay on, and passed down traditional bakkwa recipes to him.
Innovation Led To Xishibakkwa
With the traditional bakkwa recipe, Mr Koh further improved and experimented with new methods to produce bakkwa. Years later, he then established Xi Shi Rou Gan/Cecilia Minced Pork. Since then, he has insisted on using charcoal smoke house to produce bakkwa, even as machines are more common today. Mr Koh’s family, namely his sister and children, are now running the business. After so many years in the business, Mr Koh hopes to be able to expand Xishi, making it a household brand in Singapore. And why stop there? Moving forward, he also hopes to export Xishibakkwa, sharing his love for bakkwa and also his innovative new bakkwa flavours internationally.
Bakkwa From Scratch
Xishibakkwa takes no shortcuts when it comes to bakkwa-making. Creating from scratch, they create bakkwa from raw meat into smoked slices, and then cooking them into ready-to-eat slices. Unlike conventional bakkwa traders, Xishibakkwa creates new flavours to attract buyers of all ages and to keep up with the times. In fact, they are the first to have duck meat bakkwa, mushroom pork bakkwa, goji berry bakkwa, and even ginseng bakkwa. As bakkwa is considered a seasonal item especially for Chinese New Year, sale volume is the highest during then, predictably. The rest of the year, business will be quite slow, but they also offer other quirky flavours all year round, including cinnamon, cheese, and oregano bakkwa–which can also be part of the Christmas scene!
A Michelin Feature!
As with most businesses, Xishibakkwa was also hit hard by the pandemic, and the past CNY was especially tough as they were scrambling for stock, resulting in debt in terms of bakkwa stock. However, on the bright side, they were able to receive a feature from Michelin, and are also ranked #7 on 8days. Furthermore, more and more buyers are giving them positive reviews online, and they’re incredibly happy to know that their bakkwa suits customers’ palates. Most recently, they have just repackaged their brand, and hope to expand their factory and purchase more machines to manufacture more bakkwa in various ways. Besides bakkwa, they also produce traditional paper-wrap chicken and salt-baked chicken!
To get yourself some meaty goodness, check out Xishibakkwa 西施肉干食品!