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Bak Kut Teh (肉骨茶 lit. Meat bone tea/ Pork Ribs soup)
One of the many stories of Bak Kut Teh’s invention was that during the olden days of Singapore, a poor, starving beggar came by a road side pork noodle store to beg for food. The stall owner was in poverty, but wanted to help him. He boiled some of his left over pork bones and added whatever cheap spices he had to flavour the soup, including star anise and pepper which created a soup resembling tea in colour. Thus pork bone tea was born. Another canon states that this was a tonic invented to ‘reinvigorate’ the Chinese coolies that worked in the Clark Quay area.
Bak Kut Teh has been in Singapore since we were still a developing country and deserves its recognition as a simple, humble dish. Most of the Bak Kut Teh here are the pepper variety with mild use of herbs like Star Anise. Choose pork ribs meat in your soup for a more tender bite. The other variant would be the Klang Bak Kut Teh, a dark and highly flavoured herbal soup originating from Malaysia.
Best Bak Kut Teh stalls:
Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh: 7 Keppel Road, #01-05/07, PSA Tanjong Pagar Complex, Singapore 089053 (closed on Mon)
Song Fa Bak Kut Teh: 11 New Bridge Road #01-01, Singapore 059383
Ng Ah Sio Pork Ribs Soup: 208 Rangoon Road, Hong Building Singapore 218453 (closed on Mon)
Leong Kee (Klang) Bak Kut Teh: 321 Beach Road, Singapore 199557 (closed on Wed)