Dining Where To Get The Best Bowls Of Bak Kut Teh In Singapore

Where To Get The Best Bowls Of Bak Kut Teh In Singapore

From the herbal Malaysian style to the beloved peppery broth, here is where to get the best bowls of bak kut teh in Singapore.


By Jethro Kang and Jocelyn Tan Published on Sep 12, 2023, 01:00 PM

Where To Get The Best Bowls Of Bak Kut Teh In Singapore

From the herbal style to the beloved peppery broth, here is where to get the best bowls of bak kut teh in Singapore.

Roughly translated as “meat bone tea,” the dish is a hearty pork rib soup popular among the Chinese community in Singapore and Malaysia. Despite its name, there is no tea in the dish itself. Instead, the ‘teh’ portion refers to the strong Chinese tea that is traditionally served alongside the dish, which is said to balance out the richness of the meal.

Many believe bak kut teh originated from China’s Fujian province, introduced to the local communities in Malaya by Hokkien immigrants. Historically, it was consumed by coolies as a nourishing breakfast before their laborious shift. Today, it is generally eaten during lunch or dinner. 

Primarily, there are two different versions of bak kut teh in Singapore: one with a clear peppery broth and the other with an herbal soup, which originated in Malaysia’s Klang Valley. Although both types are made with different soup ingredients, the core of the dish has to contain tender, fall-off-the-bone pork ribs simmered in an aromatic stock of pork bones and spices.

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To help you along, we rounded some of the best spots for both herbal and pepper bak kut teh in Singapore. Read on for the full list.

Where to get the best bowls of bak kut teh in Singapore

Third-generation owner Jonathan Yap continues to helm his family’s bak kut teh business, which has been in operation for over half a century. His version is potent and robustly aromatic, with a touch of sugarcane to round out the savoury flavours. Other than the popular prime rib option, the mixed bak kut teh comes with an assortment of pork from stomach to liver, which should be paired with tangerine pu’er tea to cut through the richness. Balestier still runs the roadside coffee shop along with a newer air-conditioned space a few shophouses down, so take your pick between traditional or modern comforts.

(Image credit: @jimmyfooddiary / Instagram)

Also on Balestier Road is Founder, which distinguishes itself by having its walls completely covered with photographs of celebrities. Many of them are posing with owner Chua Chwee Whatt, who started as a pig farmer before delving into the restaurant business in the 1970s. His broth is strikingly peppery, and the pork rib is so tender that it slides off the bone. Eat it with crunchy you tiao and salted vegetable, which is slicked with lard.

(Image credit: Founder Bak Kut Teh Cafeteria 发起人肉骨茶餐馆 / Facebook)

One will be able to smell the offerings at Hong Ji Claypot Bak Kut Teh permeating through the air before you even arrive at its doorstep. The broth takes a whopping six hours to cook and is simmered with Chinese herbs like dang shen, dang gui, and dried tangerine peel for an aromatic explosion of flavours. Each of the juicy pork ribs is cut into shorter lengths for easy dining, and the broth also comes with a mixture of fried beancurd, mushrooms, and lettuce.

(Image credit: @imreeyeah / Instagram)

Jia Bin started out as a herbal bak kut teh stall in Seremban before expanding to Singapore. Based on founder Yong Yun Choy’s family recipe, the broth is made with aromatics like dang shen, yu zhu, dang gui, and Chuan gong, and served with various cuts of pork from rib to tail. The eatery also offers dry bak kut teh along with other dishes like braised pig trotter and clams cooked in Chinese rice wine.

(Image credit: Jia Bin Klang Bak Kut Teh 嘉宾 巴生肉骨茶 / Facebook)

Ryan Chua was working in the corporate world before he took over his father’s bak kut teh stall. Based on his brother-in-law’s recipe – which also fuelled the popular but now-shuttered Rong Cheng at Sin Ming – Chua improved on it and was rewarded with a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2021. Still named on the most recent list, his broth is flavourful and complex with generous slabs of pork rib.

(Image credit: Joo Siah Bak Koot Teh / Facebook)

The family-owned Legendary dates back three generations when the family owned a pig farm in Singapore. As animal husbandry is no longer viable in Singapore, the brand imports fresh pork from Indonesia and uses Sarawak pepper to flavour the hearty soup, while other aromatics give it a quiet herbal character. If the New Bridge Road Song Fa is too crowded, Legendary’s second location a block away is a worthy alternative.

(Image credit: Legendary Bak Kut Teh)

Mention Leong Kee Bak Kut Teh and you’ll be instantly reminded of a clay pot packed with pork ribs, liver, stomach, intestine, fried beancurd, and vegetables soaked in a thick, cloudy, herbal broth. The pork ribs here are cooked to fall-off-the-bone perfection: just a little nudge from your chopsticks and you’ll be able to pry off some of that tender meat. Just in case you’re not a fan of pork, Leong Kee also serves herbal mutton soup.

(Image credit: Leong Kee Bak Kut Teh – SG geylang / Facebook)

A firm favourite among locals, Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh has been serving comforting bowls of bak kut teh with the same recipe since 1955. The old-school establishment takes pride in offering a delightfully savoury broth that is made with a special blend of peppercorns, which adds a milky aftertaste. Besides their signature, they are also popular for their braised pork dishes (including pork skin and pork intestines), all of which are braised with 10 different herbs and spices including star anise, cinnamon, and galangal.

(Image credit: NG AH SIO Bak Kut Teh / Facebook)

Soon Huat represents Jabez Tan’s desire for a new life. While interning in Changi Prison, he started washing dishes and soon became head chef despite having no formal training, The experience inspired him to create his own bak kut teh recipe and start his own eatery. Consider it in between the Singapore and Malaysia styles: slightly dark, a balance between peppery and herbal, and filled with other ingredients from beancurd skin to mushroom. Soon Huat also does some social good: they hire ex-convicts to give them a meaningful career after incarceration.

(Image credit: Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh 順發肉骨茶 / Facebook)

Bib Gourmand, multiple branches, and hordes of tourists at almost everyone: Song Fa is probably Singapore’s most famous bak kut teh brand. Started in 1969, the business started out as a pushcart on Johor Road before hitting stardom both locally and overseas. Quality, however, has not diminished, exemplified by a meaty, savoury broth and delicately tender ribs. Song Fa’s standards are also pretty consistent throughout their locations, so give their New Bridge Road outlet a miss if you want to avoid crowds.

(Image credit: Song Fa Bak Kut Teh Song Fa Bak Kut Teh / Facebook)

Ya Hua is the culmination of two sisters – Gwee Peck Hua and Gwee Guek Hua – who strived to perfect bak kut teh by learning from the famed Ng Ah Sio. In 1973, they started a hawker stall in Outram Park Estate before moving into their current premise on Havelock Road in 2006, followed by another branch on Keppel Road. Compared to others, Ya Hua’s version is more delicately flavoured, and the pork ribs are chopped into smaller pieces for easier consumption. Teochew steamed fish is also available here, as well as a silky steamed egg.

(Image credit: Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh 亚华肉骨茶 – Official / Facebook)

Written By

Jethro Kang and Jocelyn Tan

Jethro Kang and Jocelyn Tan

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