Friday, September 09, 2005

Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha (Bak Kut Teh)

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Bak Kut Teh, or a Fujian pork rib soup, simply kicks ass. It may look like just murky dishwater in the photo, but trust me - this photo does not do it justice. You have to get the local Singaporean variety - nothing else. If you get the Malaysian variety, it is apparently more true to the original Chinese version, which is filled with all sorts of nasty Chinese herbs. Granted, I've never actually tried the Malaysian version before, but those herbs are revolting - yuck!! The Singaporean version, on the other hand, is a much lighter yet peppery and garlicky tasting bowl of soothing delightfulness.

My favorite vendor is Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha, which is conveniently located at 7 Keppel Road (PSA Tanjong Pagar Complex) during the daytime (7AM - 3PM, 6222-9610), and over at 593 Havelock Road in the evenings (6PM - 4AM, 6235-7716, both closed on Mondays). Their broth is the epitome of that peppery, savory, garlicky (gotta love the whole cloves in there!), yet light taste that I love. A standard accompaniment is yio tiao (these long deep fried Chinese dough things that you get in Taiwan for breakfast with your soybean milk), which is cut up into pieces here. It's perfect because it soaks up the soup and yet provides a greasy addition. One usually also eats it with rice, but I prefer the mian sian (thin noodles), which also come in a soup with nice scallion and garlic garnishings. Freshly cut chili peppers in a dark soy sauce is also commonly used for dipping (oh yeah - you can eat the pork too - ha ha). Finally, one can choose from all sorts of other sides: salted vegetable (which is pretty good with rice), tofu (which is the brown thing I got in the upper corner of the picture here), or - for the more adventurous - intestines. And these intestines are often filled naturally, if you know what I mean. (Yuck!!)

These guys are usually open late, as you can see by the store hours, which means that it's great for a post-drinking snack (Founder Rou Gu Cha on Balestier Road with its entire rib is also a favorite of mine, although I tend to like this one a little more due to its spiciness). It's also a breakfast dish, which is why it's open early (kinda like that other light savory broth that I love, pho!). And actually the teh in its name is Hokkien for "tea," so you're technically supposed to do a Chinese tea drinking ceremony with it (really potent tea in tiny tiny little cups). But I don't bother. The broth is so good that I would willingly come for just that alone, and they'll usually give you free refills of the broth too.

Awesome, simply awesome. If you don't like pepper or garlic, then stay away (I've had friends from HK who hated this stuff). But if you love the two, and if you come to Singapore, then you have to get this, especially since it's not really available anywhere else in the world.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh my, you're making me miss Bah Kut Teh so bad! I've tried boiling my own Bah Kut Teh a few times here in Melbourne. Although, I get the same peppery and garlicky taste, it's never quite the same as the one in Balestier (which happens to be my favourite, by the way). And, my housemates, who are Malaysians, can never quite get used to the Singaporean version too!

--Evangeline

Venitha said...

It is a very bad idea to read your blog when I'm already a little hungry. =)

astropup said...

why oh why did u write abt keppel BKT???? I'm so missing it right now!!! gawdamnyou!!!! HAHA!!

jiahui said...

hey,ur bak kut teh makes me drool

annoymous said...

hey,answer the phone lar nobody can contact u know?

Anonymous said...

i must go and try ur bak kut teh .i will ask my friends along ,just to try ur delicious bak kut teh.haha!!!!

Cheryl said...

Love your description! Keppel BKT is my favorite too. Thanks for the write-ups, keep 'em comin!