We’ll see you in there.
Connect to customize your food & drink discovery.
Bak Kwa Toronto is the newest home business crafting small batches of bakkwa, otherwise known as Hokkien-style meat jerky.
Lili Linda, pastry chef of Hexagon and 7 Enoteca restaurants in Oakville, alongside her mother-in-law Lay Lee Yang, a retired restaurateur, are working together to share their reinterpretation of bakkwa by adapting Yang's original recipes into flavours you wouldn't commonly find.
Bakkwa is a tender meat jerky available in almost every Chinatown in Southeast Asia that originated in China but has become popular in Malaysia and Singapore. Bakkwa was initially considered a delicacy most notably enjoyed throughout celebrations or as a popular gift during festive seasons.
As Bakkwa's popularity grew, the jerky became more common for everyday consumption, as it makes the perfect high protein snack or addition to any dish. It is especially beneficial for busy schedules due to its simplicity, complementing any meal like sandwiches, salads and noodle soups with this small yet flavourful piece of jerky. It also makes a great snack to pair with beer or champagne.
In regards to flavour, bakkwa is traditionally sweet and salty, with a distinctly grilled charcoal taste that results from its creation process. Bakkwa is made using extra lean ground meat that is thinly spread and baked at low temperatures for an extended period of time and then lightly brushed with honey. What makes Bak Kwa Toronto different from alternative meat jerkies that you would find in the GTA is their addition of spice combinations and excluding nitrates and preservatives in their recipe.
The duo aims to fuse Yang's traditional bakkwa recipe and creation process with non-traditional bakkwa flavours. These are inspired by the ingredients commonly found in their kitchen at home, as well as the various regions and cuisines that their family has been exposed to through their upbringing and travels.
Currently, the menu features two bakkwa options: Spicy Pork and Spicy Beef Lime Leaf, the latter being inspired by Linda's Indonesian background and the duo's love for Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. It's made with lemongrass, fresh lime leaves and Thai chilies.
Honey glazed and tender slices of their original spicy pork bakkwa.
Keep an eye out for the launch of two new flavours which are currently in testing mode: Penang Satay and Tandoori. These are inspired by dishes that Yang makes at home. Linda notes that the tandoori option is adapted from a tandoori chicken recipe that Yang learned to make while living in Bangladesh.
Linda and Yang are also in the process of testing meatless, vegan-friendly options of their products, wanting to ensure that the same flavours and textures will carry through despite the exclusion of meat. Their ultimate goal is to create healthy foods that don't come with a sacrifice in flavour.
Regarding their new business, Lili Linda says, "All the credit goes to my mother-in-law Lay Lee, she's Hokkien Chinese from Penang, a small island in Malaysia and a retired restaurateur. She grew up eating bakkwa (Hokkien dialect translation for Asian meat jerky) and has perfected her own recipe over the years. She spends a lot of time cooking for the family now and bakkwa is just one of many dishes she's great at making." Noting that she aids Yang in recipe adaptation to fit modern baking methods and helps manage the operations and marketing side of Bak Kwa Toronto.
You may already be familiar with Bak Kwa Toronto, as they've recently been featured as an add-on on the menu at Sunny's Chinese. Linda expresses her gratitude for the opportunity to offer her bakkwa via their platform, as the partnership has allowed them to get their product out to a broader audience. Something they aim to do more of, to get their Hokkien-style jerky into more hands, especially those who've never tried Asian-style meat jerky before.
Be sure to follow Bak Kwa Toronto on Instagram to order your bakkwa and indulge in this tender treat. Plus, stay up to date with their evolving menu and keep an eye on where they'll be popping up next.