Dumpling Festival 2023: Where To Get The Best Bak Chang In Singapore This Year

Celebrate Dragon Boat Festival 2023 by savouring the best bak chang (also known as bak zhang, zongzi, or rice dumpling) in Singapore.

Singaporeans would be familiar with this popular seasonal dish. Bak chang is the Hokkien name for a glutinous rice dumpling, which is made by wrapping meat (bak) in a dumpling (chang). The dumpling is then encased in a banana leaf, and cooked either by steaming or boiling.

The dish is traditionally consumed around the Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on June 22, 2023, and commemorates the Chinese poet Qu Yuan. According to legend, Qu attempted suicide by drowning himself in a river, and people tried to distract evil spirits away from his body by splashing the water with their paddles and throwing rice dumplings in as an offering.

While the term bak chang is best known in Singapore, in Mainland China, the name “zongzi” is preferred. Various dialect groups also have their own versions of it. Hokkien bak chang, for instance, uses pork belly and chestnut, while the Cantonese style has split mung bean and waxed sausage. Peranakan cuisine has also given birth to the Nyonya bak chang, which dyes the rice blue using butterfly pea flowers.

To celebrate Dumping Festival 2023 in Singapore, food producers like Joo Chiat Kim Choo still maintain the old way of making bak zhang, while Chinese restaurants including Beng Hiang, Crystal Jade, and Paradise Group have since gotten in on the act with their own takes for 2023. Then there are contemporary flavours such as an onigiri-inspired bak chang, stuffings of white pepper crab, and a sweet rendition similar to Thai-style coconut sticky rice. Vegetarians are not left out either, with options like cordyceps flower with purple glutinous rice. Read on to find out where to find the best version of the bak zhang this year.

Where to find the best bak chang/rice dumplings in Singapore for Dragon Boat Festival 2023

Beng Hiang Restaurant

Hokkien restaurant Beng Hiang sticks with traditional flavours for their rice dumplings to honour heritage. Established in 1978, they’ve become a reliable name for Hokkien cuisine and a go-to place for authentic dishes like the all-time favourite Hokkien rice dumpling (SGD 6.80+ each). For the dumpling festival in 2023, expect dumplings that contain generous amounts of braised pork belly, dried shrimp, fragrant shiitake mushrooms, and chestnuts stir-fried with a five-spice mix and dark soy sauce, all packed tightly in glossy glutinous rice.

May 22 – June 22 2023

(Image credit: Beng Hiang)

135 Jurong Gateway Rd, #02-337, Singapore 600135
+65 6221 6695
Crystal Jade

Crystal Jade’s five spice-marinated pork rice dumplings (SGD 9.80 each) and luxe jumbo-sized Hong Kong-style abalone rice dumplings (SGD 25.80 each) remain a favourite among diners for their classic execution. This year, the group also taps into local palates with the scallion oil chicken with preserved vegetable cai po rice dumplings (SGD 8.80 each). The homemade scallion oil infuses a subtle fragrance into the meat and grains, while the stir-fried radish adds delightful crunchy bites of savouriness.

Now until June 22 2023

(Image credit: Crystal Jade)

391 Orchard Rd, #04-19 Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Singapore 238872
+65 9017 5423
Joo Chiat Kim Choo Kueh Chang

Get your hands on some of the most authentic rice dumpling at Joo Chiat Kim Choo Kueh Chang. In business for generations, the beloved Singapore brand offers classics like the sweet-savoury Nyonya rice dumpling (SGD 5 each), Hokkien rice dumpling with salted egg yolk (SGD 5.30 each), and Teochew rice dumpling (SGD 6 each). They also serve the lesser-seen Hakka pork belly with preserved vegetable rice dumplings (SGD 6.80 each), where you’ll find the savoury flavour of the salty mui choy prevalent with every bite of the well-cooked glutinous rice.

Available year-round.

(Image credit: Joo Chiat Kim Choo)

60 Joo Chiat Pl, Singapore 427784
+65 6344 0830
Madame Fan at The NCO Club

Creativity and tradition cross paths at Madame Fan thanks to the hands of executive Chinese chef, Pak Chee Yit. He has crafted familiar yet modern rice dumplings in three flavours – namely the Chaoshan sweet and savoury rice dumpling (SGD48 each), XO abalone and Hokkaido dried scallop rice dumpling (SGD48 each), and the sweet candied jujube and red bean vegetarian rice dumpling (SGD 28 each). The Chaoshan dumpling is a Teochew bak zhang that features Kurobuta pork belly, Parma ham, salted egg yolk, dried shrimp, Chinese mushroom, Chinese sausage, and chestnut. Seafood lovers will take to the clam-filled rice dumpling – starring six-head South African abalone, mini abalone, and Hokkaido dried scallop flavoured with Madame Fan’s homemade XO sauce.

Now until June 22 2023

(Image credit: Madam Fan/JW Marriott Singapore)

32 Beach Rd, The NCO Club, Singapore 189764
6818 1921
Paradise Group

Specialising in Hong Kong-style rice dumplings, Paradise Group is one of the best places for savoury bak changs in Singapore, such as pork with conpoy and chestnut rice dumplings (SGD12.80 each). Modern creations like the salted pork belly brown rice dumpling (SGD11.80 each), the pillow-shaped premium abalone rice dumpling, and the east-meets-west black truffle charred BBQ Iberico pork rice dumpling are best-sellers too. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with the braised pork belly with Japanese mushrooms and conpoy rice dumplings (SGD12.80 each).

For a more premium take, opt for the roasted pork with dried shrimp and conpoy spicy rice dumpling, which swaps out the usually braised pork belly for the crunchy texture and mildly spicy punch of dried shrimp and conpoy. Meanwhile, fans of sweet zongzis will love the gula Melaka red bean paste rice dumpling.

May 22 -June 22 2023

(Image credit: Paradise Group)

68 Orchard Road, Plaza Singapura #03-01, 238839
6995 2491
Thye Moh Chan

This Teochew heritage brand, managed by the Breadtalk Group, is known for its classic best-sellers: Teochew double delight bak chang, and Teochew salted egg bak chang (SGD 6.80 each). The former is sweet and savoury thanks to the homemade sweet tau sar, savoury pork belly, shiitake mushrooms, and chestnuts, with a taste that’s well-balanced despite the contrasting ingredients. Vegetarians can also get Teochew vegetarian zongzi here. Excluding the ‘bak,’ it features sweet dried radish, fragrant shiitake mushrooms, mock mutton, roasted chestnuts, and the signature homemade sweet tau sar.

Now until June 22, 2023

(Image credit: @Thye Moh Chan / Instagram)

Goodwood Park Hotel

Famous for its durian desserts, Goodwood Park Hotel applies its signature ingredient to a steamed kee zhang (SGD 12 per set of 3 pieces) that’s paired with an indulgent D24 durian dip. For the uninitiated, kee zhang is a plain alkaline rice dumpling which, in this case, is best served warm with the rich and luscious dip. Those after more classic flavours can also purchase the Hokkien-style bak chang and Hong Kong-style dumpling with homemade soya sauce.

June 1-22 2023 (preorder three days in advance)

(Image credit: Goodwood Park Hotel)

Hai Tien Lo

Bak chang gets bold at Hai Tien Lo, which has come up with the Szechuan mala chicken rice dumpling (SGD 20 each). The Cantonese restaurant at Pan Pacific spices up the chicken thigh, black fungus, and lotus root with Sichuan peppercorn, along with Chinese rice wine. Another unconventional flavour we love for the Dumpling Festival 2023 is the black glutinous (pulut hitam) Nyonya rice dumpling (SGD 17 each), which is packed with black and white glutinous rice, pork, candied melon, Japanese mushrooms, shallots, and garlic.

May 21 – June 25 2023

(Image credit: Pan Pacific Singapore)

7 Raffles Blvd, Singapore 039595
6826 8240
Kuriya Japanese Market

Bak chang meets Japanese rice ball at Kuriya Japanese Market, which created the Fusion Zong x Onigiri glutinous rice dumplings (SGD 3.80 to SGD 4.20 each). The hybrid comes in flavours like pork with mushroom, XO dried scallop, and abalone unagi, the last highlighting braised baby abalone and teriyaki unagi kabakayi. There is also the matcha chocolate azuki shiratama onigiri, a sweet dumpling filled with white chocolate, matcha, azuki beans, mochi, and a nori wrap.

May 12 – June 30 2023

(Image credit: Kuriya Japanese Market)

7 Wallich Street, #B2 - 11, Guoco Tower, Singapore 078884
6241 0219
Man Fu Yuan

Man Fu Yuan’s massive Cantonese XL rice dumpling (SGD 88 each) has all the hallmarks of the classic: abalone, pork belly, dried shrimp, roasted duck, and dace fish, but with a red quinoa riff. The uncommon seed also makes an appearance in the Australian pumpkin with quinoa rice dumplings (SGD 19.80 each), a sweet version joined by the equally luscious Japanese sweet potato and Australian pumpkin dumplings (SGD 19.80 each). Alongside them is the signature smoked duck with Yunnan black gold garlic rice dumplings (SGD 22.80 each), which are shaped like a large fig.

May 22 – June 22, 2023

(Image credit: Intercontinental Singapore)

80 Middle Road Level 2 InterContinental Singapore, Singapore 188966
6825 1008
Resorts World Sentosa

Resorts World Sentosa taps on its various dining establishments to create rice dumplings that reflect their cuisines. From Peruvian-Chinese restaurant Chifa!, the Peruvian duck juane dumpling is an ode to a traditional delicacy with South American spices, Chinese-style roast duck, and purple potato formed into a square parcel. There is also Soi Social’s Thai sweet potato and coconut dumpling, which is inspired by grilled sticky rice, and Japanese truffle crab dumpling by Syun. These flavours come in a set of six (Sgd 128) that includes eight treasures foie gras dumplings, chicken dumplings with scallops and mead-like churches, and Australian smoky pork dumplings.

Now until June 22 2023

(Image credit: Resorts World Sentosa)

8 Sentosa Gateway, 098269
Wan Hao Chinese Restaurant

Wan Hao Chinese Restaurant brings back its best-selling white pepper crab rice dumpling (SGD 22 each), whose aroma of freshly ground white pepper envelopes generous chunks of crab meat and black-eyed peas. Another creation is the oolong tea smoked roasted Irish duck rice dumpling (SGD 20 each), which packs tender Irish duck with preserved salted vegetables. The vegetarian-friendly cordyceps flower and purple glutinous rice dumpling (SGD 18 each) contain black truffle paste, while the new five-head abalone with karasumi and Iberico pork rice dumpling (SGD 30 each) holds the highly-prized karasumi (dried mullet roe), which has a hint of savouriness akin to salted egg yolk.

May 22  – June 22 2023

(Image credit: Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel)

320 Orchard Rd, Singapore 238865
6831 4605
Yì by Jereme Leung

For Dragon Boat Festival, Yi by Jereme Leung brings back the crowd-favourite butterfly pea flower kee chang with Raffles signature kaya jam (SGD 28+ for 5), a violet-tipped, alkaline rice dumpling paired with the hotel’s coconut pandan spread. For more classic flavours, the braised pork belly with preserved mustard vegetables glutinous rice dumpling (SGD 22+ each) blends five-spiced pork belly with mustard greens, while the new 12-head abalone and preserved meats glutinous rice dumpling (SGD 49+ each) is backed by sakura ebi shrimp, salted egg yolk, chestnut, lotus seeds, pork belly, Japanese dried scallops, and sliced mung bean.

22 May – June 22 2023

(Image credit: Raffles Hotel Singapore)

1 Beach Rd, Singapore 189673
6337 1886

This story first appeared here.

(Hero and feature image credit: Beng Hiang Restaurant & Crystal Jade)

Related: Where To Find The Best, Crunchiest Har Cheong Gai In Singapore

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: What are rice dumplings?

Answer: Rice dumplings are a traditional Chinese dish made out of glutinous rice, and stuffed with either sweet or savoury ingredients. They are then wrapped in bamboo leaves and either steamed or boiled.

Question: What are rice dumplings called in Singapore

Answer: In Singapore, rice dumplings are typically referred to as bak chang, a Hokkien term. They are also called zongzi, a name more common in Mainland China.

Question: How much is a rice dumpling?

Answer: Classic rice dumplings are usually priced at around S$5 each. Versions with premium ingredients can cost over S$20 per piece.

Question: When is dumpling festival?

Answer: Rice dumplings are traditionally eaten around Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month according to the lunar calendar.

Question: Are rice dumplings healthy?

Answer: Based on a 2021 report by the Singapore Heart Foundation, a rice dumpling contains between 300 to 400 calories.

Question: When should I eat rice dumplings?

Answer: While rice dumplings are commonly consumed during Dragon Boat Festival, some Singapore food producers sell them year-round.

Dumpling Festival 2023: Where To Get The Best Bak Chang In Singapore This Year

Jethro Kang and Derrick Tan