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The Chinese New Year Snack Guide

Most of these snacks appear once a year during Chinese New Year (CNY) so who cares if three pineapple tarts is equal to eating one bowl of rice? If you go CNY visiting, all these snacks will be laid out like a buffet. You will find these snacks being sold everywhere. Don’t be shy to ask to sample the tarts before you decide to buy. *Yay!* (We visited Chinatown and picked out our favourite snacks as well – watch!)

1. Pineapple tarts

Chinese New Year pineapple tarts!
Pineapple tarts

Pineapple tarts are like the queen of CNY snacks. The pineapple filling is either on top of, or wrapped in the buttery melt-in-you-mouth pastry. As Pringles says it, once you pop, you can’t stop. The Chinese love pineapples because in the Hokkien dialect, the words ‘pineapple’ and ‘wealth’ are homonyms.

*A box of pineapple tarts makes a great souvenir. During non-CNY periods, you can get them at any of the Bengawan Solo stores.

2. Bak kwa

Bak Kwa - barbecued pork slices, also available in chicken
Bak kwa – barbecued pork slices, also available in chicken

Bak kwa stands for meat slices. Originally, bak kwa was just available in pork, but now you can get chicken bak kwa too. The barbecued meat is fragrant and sweet and the slightly burnt portions portions give it an extra oomph. Buy bak kwa early before CNY, if not join the queue for an hour or more to get these!

3. Love letters (aka Kueh kapit)

Love letters
Love letters (rolled version)
Love letters aka Kueh kapit
Love letters (folded version)

These are plain wafer thin rolls that we love because it’s a light snack. The batter is heated on a mould with Chinese symbols and characters and then quickly rolled before they cool.

4. Prawn rolls

Crispy prawn rolls
Crispy prawn rolls

Deep fried crispy rolls wrapped around spicy dried prawn floss.

5. Kueh bangkit

Kueh bangkit
Kueh bangkit

Kueh bangkit is a sweet, melt-in-your-mouth floury cookie – it’s fun to eat because it makes your lips white. 😀

6. Nian Gao

nian gao cny
Nian gao
cny nian gao fried
Right: Nian gao layered between a slice of yam and sweet potato

Nian gao is a stick and chewy glutinous rice cake. It is mostly prepared at home so you might get to eat this if you are invited to a friend’s place for CNY. It is normally prepared with a slice of yam or sweet potato, dipped together in a batter and then fried.

6. Kok chai (aka peanut puffs)

Kok Chai aka peanut
Kok chai

These seem to be getting a little out of sight these days, but we love it! This snack is shaped like a miniature curry puff, and the crunchy pastry is filled with sugar and crushed peanut.

7. Kueh lapis

Kueh lapis (Photo source:
Kueh lapis (Photo source:

Kueh lapis is a favourite any time of the year but they surface in almost every home during CNY. It is a layered cake painstakingly and patiently baked to achieve the beautiful brown layers.

Click here to learn the dos and don’ts during CNY visiting.
Click here to find out what people do during CNY visiting.

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