Meat and Bread: Bakkwa and Croissant

You know what is the hottest restaurant in Vancouver right now? It is this restaurant called Meat and Bread located in Gastown. It seems everyone is raving about it (despite the high prices) … and I am not sure exactly why.

The food there is simple, no frills … just meat and bread. The choices you get there can be counted with just one hand (just four items!). Given what they offer on the menu, I think they could even sell it off a food cart. They don’t need a restaurant for this.

I am sure the food is good and that plays a big part in its popularity. But maybe too its the simplicity of the food. I don’t know … I still have not figured that out.

No, I have not tried Meat and Bread (the restaurant) yet. I will some day when I get the time to go downtown to try it. I just need to convince myself that it is worth the trip going all the way there just for meat and bread.

But for now … I’ll just do my own meat and bread.

Bee-Kim-Heng-Fraser-Vancouver-9

I think I want to write a series on “Meat and Bread”!

Suanne and I was brainstorming about the term “meat and bread” over the Christmas holidays. This was following the thoughts about having egg with Milo – strange food that we enjoyed as a kid.

As we wrote down every combination of meat and bread we know of, we were surprised how many possibilities there are. Some of the combinations we had tried before but there are some crazy ones we thought of that could possibly work.

And then suddenly we realize why the simple combination of Meat and Bread is something that everyone could relate to, even across all cultures.

So for today, I want to share with you a Meat and Bread that we have been having at home for sometime already –> croissant with bakkwa.

Bakkwa. One way to describe this is calling this … Chinese style jerky but I don’t want to do that. This is because this is definitely very different from the beef jerky you find locally.

I had never taken to liking beef jerky at all. It is because it is tough and dry. You would probably think the same way too after you had tried the bakkwa.

Bee-Kim-Heng-Fraser-Vancouver-6

Bakkwa. One way to describe this is calling this … Chinese style jerky but I don’t want to do that. This is because this is definitely very different from the beef jerky you find locally.

I had never taken to liking beef jerky at all. It is because it is tough and dry. You would probably think the same way too after you had tried the bakkwa.

Suanne makes bakkwa at home. She does it only during summer and sometimes brings the bakkwa for picnic. It’s always a hit with friends because it is not something you see in picnics. She had posted her recipe here before … go check it out.

Bee-Kim-Heng-Fraser-Vancouver-4

It’s winter now and so decided to finally go buy some from the stores instead of making it at home. One of the more well know places for buy bakkwa is Bee Kim Heng which is located on on Fraser and 26th.

We had never tried the bakkwa from Bee Kim Heng before. From the name I think how similar it is to a popular Singaporean brand. So immediately I think that they make it Singaporean style which is quite identical to the Malaysian style.

Bee-Kim-Heng-Fraser-Vancouver-1

Bee Kim Heng made it into the Vancouver Magazine’s list of 101 Things To Taste Before You Die. So there you go … if you had never tried it before, take a moment and update it on your bucket list. I’ll wait for you while you do that.

Bee Kim Heng had been around for 10 years already. This place hardly sells anything else but bakkwa. They have a couple of other items but really their bread and butter is the bakkwa.

Bee-Kim-Heng-Fraser-Vancouver-2

The place is quiet a dive and no, you don’t eat in here. They grill the bakkwa right in front by the window. Besides a few oddly placed fridges and boxes, that’s all there is.

They are friendly and did entertain our odd questions. So if you are unfamiliar with buying bakkwa, you should be alright as they will take their time to help you understand what they have to offer (which wasn’t complicated anyway).

Bee-Kim-Heng-Fraser-Vancouver-3

Bee Kim Heng only has two types of bakkwa – just pork and beef. In Singapore and Malaysia there are more varieties. What I like best is prawns.

I was earlier saying about how similar is the name Bee Kim Heng with a top brand of bakkwa in Singapore which is Bee Cheng Hiang. A chowtimes follower, MadamYak, told us that Bee Cheng Hiang is so popular that people line up for 2 hours just to buy their bakkwa … and they limit you to only  ONE box!

Closer to home in Vancouver, we also have Soo Jerky but they don’t make it fresh. Soo Jerky has a plant in Richmond from which they distribute their pre-packaged ones throughout North America.

Bee-Kim-Heng-Fraser-Vancouver-5

Bakkwa is never cheap. In Bee Kim Heng, it is $10 for half pound. It is the same price for pork and beef. Frankly, if you ask me, I say you should go for the pork version. The beef is a tougher meat.

Bee Kim Heng also sells chicken biscuit which is $7 per pound but sold out that day.

We ordered one of each (pork and beef). We asked that they give us the ones made hot off the grill because we want to eat some in the car. Freshly made ones are the best because it is juicier. Without us telling them, they even knew to leave the packaging open and gave us serviettes.

Bakkwa is very popular during Chinese New Year in Singapore and Malaysia. People buys a lot of this to give away and it is always appreciated. So with the Chinese New Year coming up within the next 3 weeks, I won’t be surprised that Bee Kim Heng will be very busy.

Bee-Kim-Heng-Fraser-Vancouver-7

So … was the bakkwa from Bee Kim Heng good. My answer is “ boh swee”.

No, I did not like it. You see there are two general types of bakkwa. Some make it using slices of meat while others use minced meat. In Bee Kim Heng, they used slices of meat which unlike minced ones are much more fibrous and hence much more tougher. So it was extremely chewy although I have to add that the flavour is there.

It’s not so bad with the pork version but the beef version, I did not like at all.

Bee-Kim-Heng-Fraser-Vancouver-8

I better not forget about the “bread”. We like the croissant from Costco and we often get a big box of it each time we shop there. We like the softness and the “butteriness” and it does keep long enough for us to finish it all.

So there you go … the first of several Meat and Bread. LOL!

Maybe Meat and Bread (the restaurant) could adopt this in their menu too because they need to provide more variety!

Bee Kim Heng on Urbanspoon BUSINESS HOURS
9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Daily except for Mondays

This Post Has 45 Comments

  1. Su-Lin

    I am dying for one of these right now! My family used to buy their bakkwa from here!

    1. Ben

      Hi Su-Lin: I bet you get better bakkwa in London, UK than what we get here. After all, there are more Malaysians & Singaporeans living in London. Ben

      1. Su-Lin

        🙁 We can’t get it here.

  2. Michelle

    I love their bakkwa (soft & chewy at the same time). Although I wish they would make it a little more sweet. (I would brush some honey & put it in the oven for a few minutes) ;p

    1. Ben

      Hi Michelle: Brush some honey on bakkwa? Worth trying it except that the sweetness from the honey is kind of different from the sweetness on bakkwa. Ben

  3. HM

    So Ben, you finally tried this place. I agree totally with you that theirs is abit on the tough side. Back in the old days when they were operating in Chinatown, the bakkwa was softer. I suspect they no longer (or perhaps cut down) the use of baking soda to tenderise the meat. I have not tried bakkwa with croissant before, only with regular plain bread. So, you don’t like Nestum? Anyways, I am still searching for the laksa for you and may have to go as far as Edm to see if anyone could spare me a package or 2 just for you & Suanne….Wish me luck!

    1. Ben

      Oh wow, Edmonton! It is too far, too much hassle … don’t bother. Pai seh leh! Ben

      1. HM

        Bei pai seh la! Will let you know if I find it, but no promises! As for croissant, I like the frozen ones you proof & bake yourself! The whole wheat ones are yummy too!

  4. LotusRapper

    Ben said: “I think I want to write a series on “Meat and Bread”!”

    Hey Ben, I think you should open a swanky little joint in Richmond (Steveston area) called “JHUP & RICE”, LOL !! I’ll be your shareholder !

    1. Ben

      LOL! “Jhup and Rice” why haven’t I thought of that earlier. That might be a good name for Suanne’s bah kut teh shop. 🙂 Ben

      1. LotusRapper

        Cool. Is she hiring ? 😉

  5. Kelly

    Have you tried the one in Aberdeen center mall? I like theirs better.

    1. Ben

      Hi Kelly: Oh I think I know which one you are referring to … it is the one on the ground floor where the wet market section is, isn’t it? No, I have not tried that one before. I know there is another bakkwa stall in Parker Place’s food court too. Nope, never tried that also. Ben

      1. mo

        the one at parker place has a similar name too and i’ve tried it before, it’s good but i like Bee’s better. I can eat it all day long. I like it a lot better than the dried jerky.

        ben, do you know the name of the singapore brand. It’s not Soo, the logo is like a schoolbus… i think… it was many many eons ago and my memory might not be serving me right. But i remember that brand was my favourite as a child, i don’t think they sell it here anymore.

        1. Ben

          Hi Mo: No … dunno. The only local brand that comes to my mind is Soo Jerky. *shrug* Ben

          1. mo

            that’s okay, it was late 70s, early 80s when i last had it. LOL

            speaking of meat and bread, tonight’s dinner will be a $5 monster sandwich from 6th ave deli in new west!

          2. Ben

            Hi Mo: The 6th Ave Deli … what is so good about their sandwich? Pray tell more … or better still, blog about it? Ben

          3. mo

            If that’s the case, I’ll make sure I’ll take a few pics before devouring it!

            i like 6th ave deli because they bake their own bread, also with the selection of meats. and it’s only $5

          4. LotusRapper

            Soo Jerky …… is that what you call Chowtimes spammers ?

      2. Lissa

        I’ve tried the one at Aberdeen Centre and BKH. I don’t like either because it’s too tough. I chatted with the lady at the Aberdeen Centre about how good Bee Chee Hiang jerky is and she said, Oh ours is healthier, no perservatives blah, blah, blah. I just told her, “OK, but I still like BCH more.” 🙂

        I haven’t gone back to either shop for bak kwa for a long time. No one can top BCH or even Kiew Brothers. Like you said before Ben, even satay here is too healthy. 🙂

        I just made my own bak kwa last night. My kids love it. It’s not BCH standard either but at least it’s not tough like BKH’s.

        1. Ben

          Wahlau … you also make your own bakkwa huh? Is your method the same as Suanne’s? Her way is very mah-huan (too many steps) but if there is a better way (i.e. without grilling) lagi best. Ben

  6. Andy

    Croissants from Costco????!?! Oh no….

    I’ll strike it from my memory that I read that line 🙂

    1. Ben

      Hi Andy: No? Costco’s croissant not good? We love it but where would be a good place to buy them from?

      1. Buddha Girl

        I’m with ya Ben. I like the croissants from Costco. I know many thought it’s not the “classic” style, but I just like you, I like how buttery and soft it is. After all, it’s personal preference.

        1. Andy

          Well if you are looking for the bread to go with bakkwa then the one from Costco is bread. A real croissant doesn’t taste like bread. It’s supposed to taste like pastry. VancouverSlop has quite a few reviews. A croissant should be half the size of the Costco one, with nice flaky outside and airy inside. The inside should have a bouncy texture that if you try to pull but don’t break it that it should bounce back. And it is best eaten when warm, fresh out of the oven, not reheated.

          Try to go DB Bistro for brunch. They have on the menu a plate of croissant, cheese croissant and pain du chocolate that they bake fresh and bring out to you. Or try the one from Haas.

          Sorry to be picky on croissants, I used to go on business trips to Paris and I would eat croissants every morning…

          1. Ben

            Hi Andy: LOL! I hope I did not disappoint you that I am just an average Joe when it comes to food. 🙂 Yeah, I can’t afford DB Bistro except for some occasions. No, it’s alright being picky about croissant especially when you had so much of the good stuff. Hehehe … I could also be very picky about others but just not croissant. Not there yet! Ben

        2. Ben

          Hi BuddhaGirl: Yeah, I love Costco’s croissant a lot. I normally have it spread with Kaya and that’s my breakfast. Ben

          1. grayelf

            The hunt for a perfect croissant in Vancouver is daunting. We gave up and now buy the frozen, unproofed ones from Vancouver Croissant. You have to take them out the night before and let them rise but baking them the next morning and eating them hot out of the oven is worth it :-).

            As for bakkwa, my favourite of the three listed here (Aberdeen, Parker Place and Bee Kim Heng) is BKH. I rather like gnarling away on the chewy bits like an angry puppy, and I find the flavour superior.

          2. LotusRapper

            Where’s Vancouver Croissant, Grayelf ?

          3. LotusRapper

            Hahaha. Did they require an arm & leg to carry ? 😉

  7. Lissa

    I like my bak kwa in plain white bread spread with margarine 🙂
    My memory just wandered down the lane… to Odeon or Cathay cinema where the Ah Pek sold grilled bak kwa in heated plain buns.

    And the alley next to Cathay where the aunty sold gandum and hoong tau sui with coconut milk. The alley behind Cathay where the family sold koay teow th’ng.

    Sorry to wander off like that. Old already.

  8. Joanna Wong

    Slices of meat is ‘healthier’ than minced meat because I never know what they add to mince the meat and normally minced meat has lots of fat in it. If the slices of meat is just meat and no fat, then it is even healthier. So I like it when Bee Kim Heng used slices of meat.

    But you know, if something is ‘healthy’, it will not taste as good as the ‘unhealthy’ one.

    1. Lissa

      This is some thing you don’t eat everyday so it doesn’t need to be healthy. I really find slices of meat bak kwa very tough. Part of the reason where some recipes (like dumplings) call for mixed meat is for the fat to make the overall dish “smooth/slipery” (cantonese: wat).

  9. You know, I’ve never had bak kwa (what we call “ma pa”) on any type of bread. But it would go well with the soft “croissants” (deciding to put that in quotation marks after reading the comments, hah) from Costco. I should try this. Oh, and I’ve seen that people also put “ma hu” (pork floss) in the same sandwich!! Yeah, really have to try that.

    1. Marcia Smith

      TS,

      I bought some pork floss with a view to putting it in rice balls (onigiri.

      Do you – or anyone else know of another way to use it?

      1. mo

        2 of my favourite ways of eating fish/pork floss is sprinkling it on bread with a layer of condensed milk; and pan frying soft tofu and sprinkling floss on it with a dash of sesame oil and green onions and cilantro.

  10. Shirl

    The Costco croissants last because they put monoglycerides in it to keep it moist. I used to work in a bakery cafe so I guess I am spoiled and got good stuff to eat. But yeah, Ben you can pair it with something better.

    And life is too short to have missed a chance to eat at a place you would never normally eat at.

  11. cmee8

    Oooh I love “yoke so” with bread, especially the ones from any Chinese bakery. I wonder how bbq pork, roast duck or roast pork in “man to” tastes?

    1. Ben

      Hi cmee8: You’re on the right track! There are so many possibilities for meat and bread if you really think of it. Ben

  12. Thomas

    Does BKH still grill over charcoal? Their old shop on Main st. had charcoal grills. That had some good taste.
    I have to agree the texture can inconsistent. To get over this & to introduce my friends to S’pore style jerky, I used to finely slice Bee Kim Heng Bakkwa into match-sticks and generously scatter that over a combo of freshly stir-fried pea tips and pepper leaves. Don’t forget the rice wine, white pepper & sugar if you try this.

    1. Ben

      Hi Thomas: I did not notice if Bee Kim Heng still grill over charcoal. I don’t think I see flames flare up every now and then and so little smoke tells me that perhaps they do not use charcoal. How do you further slice the bakkwa? I mean, it is already very thin. Ben

      1. Thomas

        I just cut it (against the grain) into thin strips and then cut those into match-stick lengths… Basically it is shredded, but against the natural fibres so that it is easier to chew.

        Need a good sharp cleaver for that kind of work, and a good solid cutting board.

Leave a Reply