New S’porean Bak Kwa Brand Is On ‘Fyre’, Hits 6-Figure Sales In 2 Weeks
Seasoned with Southeast Asian spices and then slowly grilled to perfection, bak kwa (or grilled pork) is a quintessential snack at every Chinese New Year gathering.
Heritage bak kwa brands like Bee Cheng Hiang and Lim Chee Guan have been around for decades and are highly regarded by Singaporeans.
For Lim Chee Guan, winding lines – with a wait time of up to six or eight hours – are commonplace during the holiday season. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced it to pivot online by opening pre-orders online to avoid long lines forming at their outlets.
Amid the pandemic, new players like Fyre Singapore have appeared on the bak kwa scene in hopes of disrupting the century-old industry.
The evolution of homemade Bak Kwa
Launched last year, Fyre was started by a 29-year-old Singaporean, who just wants to be called Ong.
According to him, Fyre was first conceptualized in 2017 but could not be launched until three years later due to “a lack of F&B manufacturing experience and talent in the field.”
Ong is a self-proclaimed foodie who can’t wait to eat bak kwa every Chinese New Year. Coming from a large family, Ong said grilled meat was a “staple” at annual family reunions.
However, after years of consuming bak kwa from the same brands, Ong’s family decided to try their hand at making their own bak kwa.
He was well received by family and friends, and Ong was encouraged to make his family recipe available to the mass market.
He then worked with catering and other relevant experts to launch the Fyre Singapore brand.
Ride the Mala Xiang Guo wave
Mala Xiang Guo is a dish that originated in China, and has been trending in Singapore for years.
Mala (麻辣) translates directly to “numb” and “spicy”, which can be attributed to the sensation usually experienced after consuming the dish.
Judging by how the mala trend in Singapore hasn’t abated over the years, Fyre decided to incorporate this fiery flavor into his bak kwa.
It all started when Fyre’s chef sautéed his original 1945 bak kwa slices in the mala dish. The team really loved the end result.
We then thought, “Why should bak kwa be the basic ingredient in Mala Xiang Guo and not the other way around?”
The team then worked to infuse the goodness of Mala Xiang Guo into a compact slice of pork.
Ong, founder of Fyre Singapore
Ong told Vulcan Post that the team had used up around 400 kilograms of meat and spices before they found the right formula.
“It was a tedious and expensive R&D process, but very satisfying,” he added.
Besides the mala-flavored dried, the brand’s first product is its Classic Original 1945 Lychee and Apple Wood Bak Kwa.
The meat is smoked with lychee and apple wood for a sweet and fruity scent. Ong said his inspiration behind using this technique came from the traditional Chinese dish, Peking Roast Duck.
While visiting China while studying, Ong studied the making of roast duck and realized that a key aspect of the dish was actually lychee wood. He then decided to incorporate this method when making his own bak kwa.
Achieve six-figure sales in two weeks
A 1kg box of Mala Xiang Guo Bak Kwa costs S $ 128, while the original costs S $ 118.
According to Ong, Fyre achieved six-figure sales in the first two weeks after launch.
In the first week, the brand sold around 700 sets of its Mala Xiang Guo Bak Kwa, and the response was so good that “the brand’s business phones were ringing nonstop.”
Besides retail customers, the brand has also attracted interest from corporate clients.
Apart from its Mala Xiang Guo flavor as a unique selling point, Ong said the brand also only uses quality ingredients and cuts of meat.
Their bak kwa is also individually vacuum-packed to ensure freshness with every bite.
Fyre Singapore is founded on the value of “redefining traditions”.
The brand believes that traditions can only be preserved through modernity, innovation and perseverance; and it aims to offer every customer a new experience.
It also aims to educate the younger generations on the traditions and origins of the delicacy.
In the past, bak kwa was offered by family members to those who needed to travel far for a living. Thanks to modern cooking techniques and new ingredients, this preserved form of dried meat tasted better and was widely distributed.
It quickly became a tradition of giving gifts at the biggest event of the year for all Chinese. Our history and the history of bak kwa are printed in each of our boxes for this purpose.
Ong, founder of Fyre Singapore
Sharing more of his business plans, Ong said Fyre is currently in the process of expanding its manufacturing capacity and R&D team.
The brand is also in talks with cloud kitchen vendors to explore the possibility of having their products served there.
It has also received inquiries from customers from different regions such as the Middle East and Europe asking for bak kwa lamb substitutes and beef jerky which may well be their next step.
Featured Image Credit: Fyre Singapore
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