Bak kwa queue is back

A deep luscious red, its square shape like a spring festival couplet, it is easy to see why bak kwa is an auspicious treat at the Chinese New Year.

Headily sweet and savoury all at the same time, it is once again drawing long lines of people eager to buy it with the Chinese New Year a little more than a week away.

Though the sweet barbecued meat, also known as long yoke or rou gan, is always available, this is the one time in the year that people will wait hours, if necessary, and willingly pay a premium for it.

About 40 buyers were in the queue at the Chinatown outlet of popular bak kwa shop Lim Chee Guan at about 6pm yesterday.

Bathed in the smoky aroma, they waited to pay $56 for each kg of bak kwa this year, compared with $52 per kg last year.

Established in 1938 by the late Lim Kay Eng, the shop made the news when foreign workers were found to be queueing on behalf of their bosses.

The Straits Times reported in 2014 that bak kwa is grilled on a 24-hour basis at Lim Chee Guan's factory in Pandan Loop during the Chinese New Year period, to cope with demand.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2016, with the headline 'Bak kwa queue is back'. Print Edition | Subscribe