Bak Kut Teh – Pork bone tea is popularly well-loved in Singapore due to its unique flavor and richness in nutrients.
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Bak Kut Teh is literally translated as “pork bone tea”, a famous, traditional and popular dish in Singapore. The name may cause misunderstanding because there is, in fact, no tea in the dish itself, it’s a kind of soup. Bak Kut Teh consists of meaty pork ribs simmered in a complex broth of herbs and spices such as garlic, onion, pepper, star anise, cinnamon, and clove for hours. The cooks have their own secret recipe to make a bowl of aromatic and distinctive Bak Kut Teh.
Bak Kut Teh is usually eaten with rice or noodles and often served with youtiao (strips of fried dough) for dipping into the soup, typically for breakfast and dinner.
The exact place where Bak Kut Teh originated is still a controversial question. Some claim that Bak Kut Teh was first made a dish in Hokkien province (China) then Man Nam immigrant communities brought it to Singapore. While others think Bak Kut Teh was originally developed in Singapore a very long time ago.
Generations in Singapore recited an ancient story about Bak Kut Teh. A starving beggar came in a noodle eatery to ask for food. Although the owner of that eatery was very poor and in a hard time but his conscience didn’t let him refuse. He gathered some chunks of leftover pork bone then simmered with some spices like pepper and star anise to make its taste better. The color of soup looked like the color of tea. Then pork bone tea was popularly developed among poor communities in Singapore because the dish was made from cheap ingredients but very nutritious to give them lots of energy for a hard working day.
On eating Bak Kut Teh, people prefer soy sauce as a condiment with chopped chili and minced garlic. The soup can be enjoyed together with O long tea in the belief that it dilutes or dissolves the copious amount of fat consumed in this pork-laden dish.
The two most popular types of Bak Kut Teh in Singapore now are Teochew and Klang. The broth distinguishes these two. Klang Bak Kut Teh is cooked with a variety of herbs and soy sauce creating a more fragrant, textured and darker soup.
The broth of Teochew is light in color and strongly spicy in flavor.
On visiting Singapore, tourists can easily enjoy Bak Kut Teh because Bak Kut Teh restaurants are available everywhere.
Where to go for the best Bak Kut Teh in Singapore?
1. Song Fa Bak Kut Teh
Bak Kut Teh at Song Fa has a balance of savoury-sweet flavor and fall-off-the-bone pork meat. If you like, order some of their braised dishes to go with your Bak Kut Teh, like the decadent pig’s trotter.
- Address: 133 New Bridge Road
- Opening Hours: 10:30am – 9:30pm, Last order 9:15pm Daily
- Tel: +65 6443 1033
- Average price: $6.50
2. Leong Kee (Klang) Bak Kut Teh
Leong Kee is one of the few places in the city that specializes in the herbal, dark-coloured, thick, full-bodied broth ( Klang Bak Kut Teh).
- Address: 251 Geylang Road
- Opening hours: 11:00 – 01:00
- Tel: +65 9380 1718
- Average Price: $10
3. Founder Bak Kut Teh
Founder Bak Kut Teh has excellent braised pig trotters in black sauce. The tender of meat, fat, and skin will be melt in your mouth.
- Address: 347 Balestier Road
- Opening hours: Wed – Mon: 12:00am – 2:00pm, 6:00pm – 2:30am, Closed on Tuesdays
- Tel: +65 6352 6192.
- Average price: $15
4. Ng Ah Sio Pork Ribs Soup Eating House
This restaurant serves the strongest flavor of peppery Teochew Bak Kut Teh in Singapore. The perfect match of Bak Kut Teh and kung fu tea helps maximize the taste of the soup.
- Address: 208 Rangoon Road
- Opening hours: Tue – Sun: 7:00 – 22:00
- Tel: +65 6291 4537
- Average price: $15
5. Outram Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh
The stall is a bustling late night dining site so you can have a bowl of peppery Teochew Bak Kut Teh to boost energy if you like to travel around at night.
- Address: #01-05/07 Tanjong Pagar Complex,7 Keppel Road
- Opening hours: Tue – Sat: 6:00pm – 4:00am
- Tel: +65 6222 9610
- Average price: $13
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