According to The Star, Bak kwa (dried meat) has gone through a lot of changes over the years. Even its reputation, which was formerly a roadside stall mainstay, has undergone a makeover, with sleek new boutiques and creative packaging now symbolizing the dried meat's increasingly premium quality.
Bak kwa (dried meat) has gone through a lot of changes over the years. (Photo / Retrieved from Pixabay)
"We've been working to modify people's perceptions about bak kwa," says Raymond Khue, executive director of popular bak kwa brand Oloiya. "For example, we invested in fresh designs, so the packaging doesn't appear old."
"There is now a glam impact with bak kwa; it is no longer considered a roadside stand event, but rather a premium product." In reality, as the cost of components rises, bak kwa becomes more expensive, but people continue to buy it," Khue explains.
In keeping with the times, bak kwa's core structure has evolved and grown in tandem with consumer demand. There are even variations on the typical square design these days, with coin-shaped and heart-shaped choices available.
Fruit-infused bak kwa has been increasingly popular in recent years, and you can now discover exotic concoctions like pineapple, dragonfruit, lychee, and even durian bak kwa.
Restaurants have been quick to introduce trendy new variations as well. There's also the possibility of ordering hand-made truffle bak kwa in high-end restaurants like Raymond Tham's Beta!
In the meantime, Khue developed Bak-off.com, an Oloiya branch aimed at highlighting odd bak kwa flavor combos and satisfying the thirst for flashy, new flavors.
"We're continually coming up with fresh methods to surprise our fans." The classic flavors are still our best-sellers, but we wanted to modernize, so we introduced flavors like nasi lemak, tom yum, mala, bak kut teh, and salted egg yolk bak kwa, in which we mixed natural ingredients and infused them into the meat. "We're always trying to come up with fresh ways to break into new areas," he says.
Alcoholic bak kwa has become increasingly popular in recent years. Khue has collaborated with a number of beer, whisky, and cognac brands, and each of these partnerships has sold out.
Yap Sin Kee, the owner of XinJi BBQ, serves both traditional and whisky-infused bak kwa, and claims that sales of the whisky option considerably outnumber those of the standard version.
He says, "A lot of folks come back for the whisky bak kwa."