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Home / Chinese Cuisine / Old Tiong Bahru Road Bak Kut Teh : Is it worth the trouble?
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Old Tiong Bahru Road Bak Kut Teh : Is it worth the trouble?
By Alfred June 10, 2009
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Old Tiong Bahru Road Bak Kut Teh : Is it worth the trouble?
Fast Facts
Bak Kut Teh (肉骨茶)
Chinese Cuisine
Coffee Shop
Price Range:
S$1 - S$5
Rating Range:
5 to 5.9
Tiong Bahru
Food Centre:
Recommended For:
Breakfast Lunch
Reviewed by:

I have so many overseas friends telling me that Singapore is famous for Yuk Kuat Char(Bak Kut Teh). They actually ranked Bak Kut Teh among the same level in terms of popularity as Chicken Rice or Chilli Crab. So it seems to me that to foreigners, Bak Kut Teh is as native to Singapore as Dim Sum is to Hong Kong.

You and I know that not every hawker centres sell Bak Kut Teh. There was even once, I searched the entire spread of Beach road area looking for a Bak Kut Teh stall and couldn’t find any. In certain places, Bak Kut Teh stalls can really be so scarce that you might wonder do you have to travel all the way to somewhere just to have a bowl.

The truth is Bak Kut Teh is not as common as Chicken Rice, Duck Rice or Hokkien Mee. Heck I would say western food is even more popular than Bak Kut Teh. For instance, those coffeeshops near where I’m staying, I don’t remember seeing any Bak Kut Teh stalls and if I want to have a bowl, I probably have to travel out of this area. But if I want to eat western food, fwah, just about every kopitiams nearby have a stall. So now, who are we to kid if we agree with foreigners that Bak Kut Teh is a die die must eat dish here? The fact is statistics are showing that there are other food that are much more popular as far Singaporeans are concerned.

Some of my Singapore friends were saying Bak Kut Teh is a fusion food because the Chinese loves meat and Indian loves spices and so when migration activities took place in the 1800s, they mixed their ingredients and so here comes Bak Kut Teh. But if that is so, then I want to know why Bak Kut Teh exists in places as far as Taiwan or even China. Now of course the Bak Kut Tehs there are very different from ours but then isn’t Singapore’s version of Biryani is also somewhat different from India’s version in some ways? Taste of food will undoubtedly evolve from place to place just like for example, Mee Siam is derived from as far north as Thailand(apparently because Thailand were once called Siam) and if you think they have no food that taste like Mee Siam, then tell me does Mee Siam or does not Mee Siam taste like Bee Hoon in Tom Yum soup?

The fact is Bak Kut Teh is a food that existed for a long time in many Chinese communities and in some parts of Indonesia, they even have their own version of Bak Kut Teh and those people have never lived in Singapore or Malaysia. Therefore contrary to popular beliefs, Bak Kut Teh should be a Chinese food but definitely not cantonese because you really can’t find it in Hong Kong. Well I read somewhere that claimed Bak Kut Teh to be a in Hoklo food. Hoklo basically mean the ethnic-cultural group from southeast China which is also the Fujian province and their native language is Min Nan which we all know as Hokkien. So now with such facts staring at us, the best excuse we can find for popularity of Bak Kut Teh here is that we served better Bak Kut Tehs than others therefore it is more popular here than else where.

I don’t remember going to any Bak Kut Teh stalls just because they served really nice Bak Kut Teh soup or even nice Bak Kut Teh meat. I mean usually they have other side dishes that would claim the honour instead. Like Kong Bak with Preserved Vegetables, Lor Bak or Lor Chicken with Tao Kee among many others.

This Bak Kut Teh at Tiong Bahru around Seng Poh road is quite something, according to Bak Kut Teh fanatics. Ok for one they are opened everyday at around 7am in the morning. Already it’ll be hard enough to find people wanting to eat Bak Kut Teh at that kind of hour but yet they can open and do business and setup the tables and chairs as if they’re going to get people flooding the place in no time.

[xrr label=”Bak Kut teh meal:” rating=”5.8/10″ group=”s2″]

But after having a meal here, I can guarantee the soup has nothing to rave. The meat were tender though and fell off the bones easily. We had the common stuff like You Tiao and Preserved Vegetables and Dao Kee cooked in some sauces. Well like all famous place, it’s usually more expensive. The above mentioned side dishes together with 2 bowl of Bak Kut Teh soup cost us $20.30. I’m not exactly sure how much is the soup but I would roughly guess it’s in the range of $5 to $6 per bowl with the side dishes going for $2 each.

Well I’m not sure if this place is suffering from the usual ‘standard drop’ effect which is contaminating many popular eating places. But with the kind of Bak Kut Teh soup I had here which tasted peppery more than anything else, I really can’t see myself coming all the way here to have a bowl again. I mean what’s so hard about adding peppers into the soup if I want to make myself a pot at home. The side dishes were good but I’m sure it’s not something I can’t find anywhere else. Other than that, maybe the big carpark beside this kopitiam does help to bring the business but the next time I’m here, I’m definitely be more obliged to check out those Lor Mee stalls upstairs.

Price: $5-6 a bowl

Recommendation: Nil

Conclusion: The soup were average, meat were tender, side dishes were good but not great. Cracking my brain to undertand the fuss about this place.

Likes: Side dishes were good.

Dislikes: Soup were average.

Address Overall Rating

Old Tiong Bahru Bak Kut Teh
58 Seng Poh Road #01-31

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[xrr label=”Value:” rating=”5/10″ group=”s1″]
[xrr label=”Service:” rating=”6/10″ group=”s1″]
[xrr label=”Ambience:” rating=”5/10″ group=”s1″]
[xrr label=”Cleanliness:” rating=”6/10″ group=”s1″]
[xrr overall=true group=s1 label=Overall:]

Readers' Comment(s) : 1
Lim Boon Tiong says:

wa lao…. expensive sia.

i thought the one I had at Founder Bak Ku TEh BAlestier was quite expensive.

this place was even worst.

sure give it a miss.

Posted June 11, 2009
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