Last month, while presenting the Top 10 Most Popular Female Artistes award, Taiwanese host Hu Gua jokingly grumbled about his weight to South Korean actor Park Hae Jin. The culprit behind his increased pant size?
Your favourite delicacy, bak kut teh.
It turns out that even tourists are fans of the Chinese ‘meat bone tea’! If you’re a foreigner who can’t wait to visit our sunny shores to try out our local cuisines — or a Singaporean who wants to hop on a bak kut teh adventure — get a load of this:
1. Song Fa
What do you look for in a restaurant? If your answer is efficient service and great food, then you can’t miss Song Fa. With food that tastes like home, a typical bowl of pork rib soup can cost up to $9.
Song Fa also recently opened a new outlet at The Centrepoint. Word is, it’s modelled after the street hawker scene of the 1960s.
In addition to their grade A main and side dishes, Song Fa also serves their very own specialty tea called the King’s Garden Tea, where it’s made from chrysanthemum flowers and oolong tea leaves.
Song Fa Bak Kut Teh
Address: 11 New Bridge Road, #01-01
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9am to 9.15pm
Contact: 6533 6128
2. Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh
Not only is the food excellent, but the service is top-notch too. If you’ve been to Ya Hua — especially the Havelock branch — you would know that the crew has an exceptional memory. But enough about that, what about the food?
It’s marvellous. The pork liver and kidney are done just right. The bak kut teh is authentic, tender, and leaves you wanting more.
Ya Hua’s delectable dishes are slightly more expensive (it costs about $7.50) than the rest of the stalls in this list, but given the ambience and service quality, many say that it’s worth it.
Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh
Address: 593 Havelock Road, #01-01/02 Isetan Building
Opening hours: Sun 11am – 10pm; Tue & Thu 11am – 2am; Wed, Fri & Sat 11am – 3am; Closed on Monday
Contact: 6235 7716
3. Eunos MRT Bak Koot Teh
Eunos MRT is one of the few bak kut teh stalls that will refill their customers’ soups without them asking for it. And that’s not all. The soup is fragrant, the pork ribs are of generous size, and the youtiao is crispy.
Price starts from $5. As there aren’t enough parking lots, come around 11am to avoid disappointment. If you value taste over presentation (don’t we all?), head down to judge their bak kut teh for yourself!
Eunos MRT Bak Koot Teh
Address: 307 Changi Road
Opening hours: Uncertain
Here’s another established bak kut teh stall in Singapore. Like Ya Hua, Founder’s bak kut teh is also on the pricey side. The soup has a pleasant, distinctive smell; and the ribs are juicy. Note: the restaurant only accepts cash!
5. Sin Heng Claypot Bak Koot Teh
Raise your hand if you want to eat bak koot teh with a wide array of zi char dishes! Yes, it’s possible. And not only that; at Sin Heng Claypot, you get both the Teochew and Hokkien version of the meat bone tea. A full meal costs around $12.
One customer recommend eating it for supper to ensure a good night’s sleep. Keep calm and count sheep? More like, keep calm and eat bak koot teh.
6. Leon Kee Claypot Pork Rib Soup
At Leon Kee, you get the best of both worlds: tender pork ribs and thick, heavenly herbal broth. The Kuala Lumpur-styled bak kut teh costs $4.50. Most fans also recommend the side dishes (pig’s intestines and livers).
Leon Kee Claypot Pork Rib Soup
Address: 120 Bukit Merah Lane 1, #01-18, Alexandra Village Food Centre
Opening hours: Daily 10am to 10pm
7. Seletar Nam Hoe
I practically grew up eating Seletar Nam Hoe’s bak kut teh. It wasn’t easy finding the stall after it relocated from the Seletar Hills Market and Hawker Centre (it was demolished more than 10 years ago).
I thank my lucky stars.
Here you’ll find a generous portion of meaty pork ribs at a pocket-friendly price. The soup is hot, rich, and savoury. The ribs are so thick and tender that you won’t mind having bits of it stuck in between your teeth. At just $5, you get your money’s worth.
I suggest having your meal here at around 11am. The crowd is not as packed as early in the morning. Brace yourself for the heat!
Seletar Nam Hoe Bak Kut Teh
Address: Block 105 Hougang Avenue 1, #02-07 Hainanese Village Centre
Opening hours: Daily (close on Wednesdays) 8am till sold out
Email: [email protected]
Who’s the star of Marsiling Lane? Why, it’s none other than Hong Ji Claypot. I reckon many fans would agree that when it comes to braised pig intestines and bak kut teh, Hong Ji is in a league of its own. If you appreciate thick, comforting soup, look no further than this!
Most of the dishes start from $5. Side dishes like peanuts, and youtiao will set you back a dollar. Finding seats can be a hassle, as the coffee shop is small. (It is, after all, located under a HDB block.) So if you want to drop by Hong Ji Claypot, make sure you know what you’re up against (but it’s all worth it)!
I’m not sure about you. But I’m heading down to one of these places tonight. Can’t wait for some warm soupy goodness!