What makes a good Bak Kut Teh?
The meat has to be fall-off-the-bone tender (no exception!), and deliciously infused with herbal spices.
The soup is the star of the show – think: warm and comforting, with a good peppery kick.
Translated to mean ‘meat bone tea’, Bak Kut Teh is a dish that hails from China’s Fujian province, and is one that is loved nationwide!
As we slowly start to say hello to more sweater weather towards the end of the year, here are some Bak Kut Teh outlets to hit up for that hearty satisfying fix:
1. Rong Hua Bak Kut Teh
Rong Hua’s background history is as colourful as it gets. It was founded by Mr Chua Ah Hua, a Chinese immigrant in the 1920s who arrived in Singapore in search of a better life for his family. Mr Chua previously worked as a coolie, who frequently refuelled with a bowl of Bak Kut Teh after days of backbreaking work.
Due to his love of the dish, he decided to learn the ropes from Uncle Rong, the owner of a reputed Bak Kut Teh stall. This gave birth to the brand Rong Hua, which is the combination of both names.
Infused with Teochew flavours, the herbaceous edge of the soup is admittedly addictive. Warning: the soup is rather peppery; you might want to arm yourself with a nice cool glass of water to go along with it. Rong Hua also offers free soup refills, so go ahead and knock yourself out!
BONUS: SAFRA members can slash 10% off the ala carte menu, with a minimum spend of $20. More information here.
2. New ManLee Bak Kut Teh
Now, this is one of Singapore’s hidden gems. Not as known as the rest, but no less delicious! Tucked away in the heartlands, New ManLee was started by the same brand behind Ajisen Ramen and Japanese Gourmet Town. The signature dish is the Malaysian-style Bak Kut Teh, which is slow-boiled with over 20 different herbs and spices.
Each bowl of the above is served with an individual stove, ensuring that the soup is kept hot throughout the meal. Each portion is good for 2 or 3 pax, depending on size, so definitely visit when you’re hungry! If you’re up for it, you can also choose to add on different types of meat, such as pork tenderloin, pork belly, pork stomach, and more.
Alternatively, you can simply order the individual servings of Bak Kut Teh, which come served in a claypot. Staying true to its roots, the Bak Kut Teh is paired with udon noodles or Japanese rice.
Location: 201 Victoria Street, #01-12, Singapore 188067, www.facebook.com/New-Manlee-Bak-Kut-Teh
BONUS: All SAFRA members can enjoy 10% off the ala carte menu. More information here.
3. Founder Bak Kut Teh
Founder Bak Kut Teh has been making waves in the food and beverage scene for years, with franchises in many overseas countries like Taiwan, China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Often said to have the best Bak Kut Teh in Singapore, Founder’s has been around for over 40 years!
The owner used to be a pig farmer, and reared only the best meat to be used in his soups. He worked on the recipe over many years, finally arriving at the perfect concoction after much trial and error.
Only the freshest pork ribs are used, which are then simmered for hours in a mixture of herbs and spices. The sweet meat is best paired with dark soya sauce and chilli padi for an extra dose of umami. If you’d like, you can even get the Bak Kut Teh delivered straight to the comforts of your home!
4. Song Fa Bak Kut Teh
When it comes to Bak Kut Teh, Song Fa is pretty much a household name. And it’s easy to see why: it’s also the only Bak Kut Teh shop brand in Singapore to clinch the coveted Michelin Bib Gourmand award!
In operation for over 40 years, Song Fa had its humble beginnings as an inconspicuous pushcart. Today, they still pay homage to this by designing the shops’ interiors to resemble dining by the roadside in the 1960s.
Song Fa’s Bak Kut Teh is unassuming and authentic, packing a punch with every spoonful. The Sarawak peppers used to make the broth gives a mild kick, coupled with delicious notes of garlic.
The soup is light, and glides down the throat easily. The pork here also seems to be less fatty as compared to other shops – a definite plus point, in our opinion.
5. Old Street Bak Kut Teh
Old Street Bak Kut Teh is touted to be the world’s largest Bak Kut Teh chain, with 23 outlets located in Singapore, Shanghai, Bangkok, and Indonesia! Despite this, they shy away from turning too commercialised, staying true to authentic flavours. They’ve even added a local twist by including tau huay (sweet beancurd) in their set meals.
For something special, check out the Dry Bak Kut Teh, something that is unique to this brand! The ribs are mixed in a spicy dark sauce, and fried alongside crunchy ladyfingers. The savoury-sweet flavours are tantalising on the tongue, complementing a serving of rice or vermicelli well.
… and the list goes on! Which is your favourite Bak Kut Teh stall? Let’s dig in!