Singapore is a gastronomic paradise, known for its rich and diverse culinary offerings. From the world-famous hawker centres to the luxurious Michelin-starred restaurants, the city-state has something for every food lover. One of the most beloved dishes in Singapore is Bak Kut Teh, a hearty pork rib soup that has become a staple of local cuisine.
Bak Kut Teh, which literally means "meat bone tea," is believed to have originated in southern China and was brought to Singapore by Hokkien immigrants in the 19th century. Over the years, the dish has evolved into a unique Singaporean recipe that blends Chinese herbs, spices and local ingredients. You could either choose to enjoy the signature peppery soup or a Chinese herb soup. It is typically served with rice, fried dough fritters, and a variety of side dishes such as braised tofu, preserved vegetables, and chilli padi.
Apart from being a delicious meal, Bak Kut Teh also holds cultural significance for Singaporeans. It is often enjoyed as a communal meal shared with family and friends and is believed to have medicinal properties that can help restore one's energy and improve blood circulation. As such, Bak Kut Teh has become a beloved comfort food that is enjoyed by people from all walks of life.
In this article, we will be exploring the 5 best Bak Kut Teh restaurants in Singapore. Whether you are a local looking for a new place to indulge in this comforting dish or a tourist eager to sample Singapore's cuisine, we have got you covered. Our list features restaurants that offer the most flavourful and authentic Bak Kut Teh, using high-quality ingredients and traditional cooking techniques. So, grab your chopsticks and let's dive in!
List of Bak Kut Teh Restaurants
Now that we've introduced Bak Kut Teh and its cultural significance in Singapore, it's time to explore some of the most popular Bak Kut Teh restaurants in the city-state. From traditional family-owned eateries to innovative fusion concepts, there's something for every taste and budget.
1. Founder Bak Kut Teh
Founder Bak Kut Teh Singapore is one of the oldest and most renowned Bak Kut Teh restaurants in Singapore. It is the first name that comes to mind when people talk about Bak Kut Teh in Singapore, and for good reason. Founded in 1978 by Mr Chua Chwee Whatt, the restaurant has become a household name and a must-visit destination for locals and tourists alike. The restaurant has two locations for you to visit at Balestier and The Bedok Marketplace. They even have branches in other Asian countries like Taiwan, Vietnam and Indonesia!
The atmosphere at Founder Bak Kut Teh is casual and inviting, with wooden tables and chairs, and simple decor. It's the perfect place to sit down and enjoy a hot bowl of Bak Kut Teh with friends or family.
Their menu offers a variety of Bak Kut Teh dishes, including the classic pork ribs soup and the dry version, which is cooked with a blend of herbs and spices. They also serve side dishes such as braised pig's trotters and tau pok (fried beancurd), as well as rice and noodle dishes.
Founder Bak Kut Teh's popularity can be attributed to its consistency in quality and taste. The pork ribs are cooked to perfection, tender and falling off the bone, while the broth is rich and flavourful without being overly greasy. The dry version is equally delicious, with the same tender meat infused with aromatic herbs and spices.
What sets Founder Bak Kut Teh apart from the rest is their special recipe of herbs and spices, which is simmered for hours to create the perfect blend. This recipe was created by Mr Chua Chua Chwee Whatt and was first made with the pigs from his very own pig farm in the early days of developing the recipe and brand. This dedication to tradition and authenticity has earned them a spot at the top of the Bak Kut Teh scene in Singapore.
As a personal favourite, Founder Bak Kut Teh holds a special place in my heart. The taste and aroma of their Bak Kut Teh brings back memories of family gatherings and comforting meals. It's a must-try for anyone visiting Singapore and looking for a truly authentic taste of the city's culinary culture.
Branch Locations and Opening Hours:
347 Balestier Rd, Singapore 329777 | 11.45am-12am (closed on Tuesdays)
442 Clementi Ave 3, Singapore 120442 | 11am-10pm daily
30 Foch Rd, Singapore 209276 | 10am-4am daily
2. Song Fa Bak Kut Teh
Song Fa Bak Kut Teh is one of the most popular Bak Kut Teh restaurants in Singapore, with a history dating back to 1969. It began as a humble roadside stall, and has now expanded to multiple locations across the island. The restaurant's decor is simple and unpretentious, with wooden tables and chairs, and Chinese calligraphy adorning the walls. The atmosphere is lively and bustling, with a constant stream of customers coming in and out.
The menu at Song Fa Bak Kut Teh is focused solely on their signature dish - the peppery pork ribs soup. Customers can choose from various cuts of pork, including prime ribs, loin ribs, and soft bone, and the soup is served with steamed rice, youtiao, and a side of chilli padi and dark soy sauce. The pork is tender and flavourful, and the soup has a satisfying depth of flavour from the fragrant herbs and spices used in the broth.
It's no surprise that Song Fa Bak Kut Teh is a popular spot among both locals and tourists not only for its convenience and accessibility, but its reputation for serving quality Bak Kut Teh has earned them numerous accolades over the years, including being named a Bib Gourmand restaurant in the Singapore Michelin Guide. During peak hours, the restaurant can get quite busy, with long queues forming outside the door. However, the efficient service and speedy turnover means that customers are never left waiting for too long.
Song Fa Bak Kut Teh is a must-visit for anyone looking to try one of Singapore's most iconic dishes. The combination of tender pork and flavourful soup is sure to leave you feeling warm and satisfied. And with multiple locations across the island, there's no excuse not to try it out for yourself.
Some Branch Locations and Opening Hours:
Waterway Point - 83 Punggol Central #01-24 (East Wing) Singapore 828761 | 11am-9.30pm
Jem - 50 Jurong Gateway Road #B1-09 Singapore 608549 | 11am-9pm
Jewel Changi Airport - 78 Airport Boulevard #B2-278 Singapore 819666 | 11am-9.30pm
View a list of all the branch locations here.
3. Old Street Bak Kut Teh
Next up, we have Old Street Bak Kut Teh a casual and traditional-looking restaurant that has many branches all over the island, perfect for enjoying a hearty meal with friends and family. The restaurant offers traditional Teochew-style Bak Kut Teh, with a unique twist of Laksa Bak Kut Teh. The menu also includes other classic side dishes such as braised peanuts and vegetables, salted vegetables, and pork liver soup.
The restaurant has a charming rustic interior with wooden furniture and nostalgic decor that takes diners back in time to old Singapore. The atmosphere is friendly and inviting, with staff always ready to recommend their best dishes and engage in a friendly chat.
Now, on to the main attractions - the Laksa and Seafood Bak Kut Teh. These dishes are a must-try for those looking for a fusion of a few of Singapore's most famous dishes. The Laksa Bak Kut Teh has a rich and creamy broth infused with Laksa spices, served with tender pork ribs, tau pok, and bean sprouts. It has a well-balanced flavour with just the right amount of spice, making it the ideal comfort food for any occasion. As for the Seafood Bak Kut Teh, cooked with clams, prawns and crab, it is the perfect hearty dish for seafood lovers who love a rich broth and Umami flavour. Pair these with a steaming bowl of white rice, and you’ve got all you need for one of the nation’s favourite meals.
Aside from the special dishes, the traditional Teochew-style Bak Kut Teh is also a must-try. The broth is simmered for hours with a blend of herbs and spices, creating a deep and flavourful taste. The pork ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender, and the side dishes are a perfect complement to the dish, making Old Street Bak Kut Teh unique and sure to stay in your mind after you try it.
Some Branch Locations and Opening Hours:
Westgate - 3 Gateway #B1-25 Westgate Building Singapore 68532 | 10am-10pm
Nex - 23 Serangoon Central #B2-50/51 Nex Singapore 556083 | 10am-10pm
Tiong Bahru Plaza - 302 Tiong Bahru Road #02-105 Singapore 168732 | 10am-10pm
View a list of all the branch locations here.
4. Hong Ji Claypot Herbal Bak Kut Teh
Let's talk about Hong Ji Claypot Herbal Bak Kut Teh, another must-try restaurant when it comes to Bak Kut Teh in Singapore. Unlike the other establishments, this restaurant is known for serving their Bak Kut Teh in claypots, which add a unique depth of flavour to the broth.
First located in the vibrant Ang Mo Kio neighbourhood, Hong Ji Claypot Herbal Bak Kut Teh is a no-frills eatery that exudes a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere. The decor is simple yet charming, and it's the perfect place to enjoy a piping hot bowl of Bak Kut Teh on a chilly evening. Now, it has expanded and has multiple locations across the island, bringing the joy of the claypot Bak Kut Teh to people all over.
When it comes to the menu, their signature dish is the Claypot Herbal Bak Kut Teh, which is served in individual claypots, allowing diners to enjoy the rich and fragrant broth at its optimum temperature. The broth is slow-cooked for hours with a mix of herbs and spices, resulting in a comforting and flavourful soup that is perfect for dipping youtiao in.
Aside from their Bak Kut Teh, Hong Ji also serves a range of other Chinese dishes, including stir-fried vegetables, beancurd, and braised pork belly.
Overall, Hong Ji Claypot Herbal Bak Kut Teh is a unique and enjoyable dining experience for anyone looking to try something new. The restaurant's rustic charm and delicious food make it a favourite among locals and tourists alike. The claypot adds an extra layer of flavour to the already tasty dish, and the fragrant soup is a delight to sip on.
If you're planning to visit Hong Ji, be sure to go early, as the restaurant tends to get crowded during peak hours. It's also best to bring a group of friends or family, so you can share a few different dishes and enjoy a hearty and satisfying meal together.
Hong Ji Claypot Herbal Bak Kut Teh is a restaurant that should not be missed when exploring Singapore's diverse culinary scene. Its unique take on Bak Kut Teh, combined with its comforting atmosphere, makes it a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the flavours of Singapore.
Branch Location and Opening Hours: 107 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 #01-138 Singapore 560107 | 9am-9pm
5. Outram Park Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha
If you're looking for a Bak Kut Teh experience with a bit of history, Outram Park Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha is the place to go. Established in the 1970s, the restaurant has been serving generations of Singaporeans. The restaurant originated from a humble, unassuming shophouse in the bustling district of Chinatown. The interior is simple and traditional, with wooden tables and chairs, and walls adorned with photos of their history and awards.
The menu at Outram Park Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha is concise, focusing on their signature dish, the Bak Kut Teh. You have a choice of either the Teochew-style or the peppery, Hokkien-style broth, both of which are served with a generous serving of pork ribs and a side of tau pok (bean curd puff) and youtiao (Chinese doughnut). They also offer a variety of side dishes like braised peanuts, vegetables, and pig liver soup. The highlight of their menu, however, is the spare ribs, which are cooked to perfection and literally fall off the bone.
The atmosphere at Outram Park Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha is warm and welcoming, with a no-frills approach that puts the focus squarely on the food. The restaurant is usually busy, with a mix of locals and tourists, so be prepared to queue during peak hours. The service is prompt and efficient, with staff who are knowledgeable about their menu and happy to offer recommendations.
In terms of popularity, Outram Park Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha is widely regarded as one of the best Bak Kut Teh restaurants in Singapore, with numerous accolades and awards to their name. Their reputation has spread far and wide, with visitors from all over the world flocking to their doors to taste their famous broth.
As for my personal review, I have to say that Outram Park Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha is definitely up in the ranks. The Bak Kut Teh here is simply amazing, with a rich, flavourful broth that hits all the right notes. The pork ribs are tender and juicy, and the sides are the perfect accompaniment to the dish. The atmosphere is unpretentious and welcoming, making it a great spot for a casual lunch or dinner. If you're looking for a classic, no-fuss Bak Kut Teh experience, Outram Park Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha is definitely worth a visit.
Branch Location and Opening Hours: 7 Keppel Rd #01-05/07 PSA, Singapore 089053 | 7am-11pm (closed on Mondays)
Tips for Ordering and Enjoying Bak Kut Teh
When it comes to ordering and enjoying Bak Kut Teh, there are a few tips that can make your experience even more enjoyable. Firstly, it's important to choose the right type of meat. Some popular options include pork ribs, pork belly, and lean pork. Pork ribs tend to be the most flavourful and tender, while pork belly is fatty and add richness to the soup. If you prefer a healthier option, lean pork is a good choice.
Another tip is to visit the restaurant at the right time. Bak Kut Teh is traditionally eaten for breakfast or lunch, so it's best to visit the restaurant during these hours to ensure that the soup is fresh and piping hot. If you're planning to visit during dinner time, be prepared to wait as the restaurant may be crowded during peak hours.
One of the best parts of the Bak Kut Teh experience is dipping youtiao (fried dough sticks) in the soup. The youtiao soaks up the flavourful broth and adds a satisfying crunch to each bite. Additionally, don't be shy to drink the hot peppery soup - it's a must-try and is often considered the best part of the dish. Just be prepared for some heat if you're not used to spicy food!
In terms of cultural and etiquette tips, it's common to share a table with strangers in Bak Kut Teh restaurants, especially during busy periods. It's also customary to pour tea for others at the table before pouring for yourself and to use chopsticks instead of a fork and spoon.
Overall, ordering and enjoying Bak Kut Teh is a fun and delicious experience. With these tips in mind, you'll be able to fully appreciate the flavours and traditions behind this beloved Singaporean dish. And don't forget to indulge in dipping youtiao in the soup and drinking the hot peppery broth - it's truly 'shiok' and will leave you wanting more!
In conclusion, Bak Kut Teh is a dish that is deeply rooted in Singapore's food culture and history. With its savoury soup and tender meat, it's no wonder that it has become a beloved dish not just by locals but by tourists as well.
In this article, we have covered some of the best places to try Bak Kut Teh in Singapore, each with its unique take on the dish. From Old Street Bak Kut Teh to Founder Bak Kut Teh, each restaurant offers its signature dishes that are worth trying.
To ensure that you have the best experience possible, we've also provided some helpful tips for ordering and enjoying Bak Kut Teh. Choosing the right type of meat and timing your visit correctly can make all the difference, and understanding some cultural etiquette can ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. And don't forget to dip your youtiao in the soup and enjoy the hot, peppery broth!
Remember to include Bak Kut Teh on your foodie bucket list during your trip planning to Singapore. It's a dish that you won't want to miss and one that you'll be talking about long after you return home. Trust us - your taste buds will thank you!
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