If you google “bak kut teh in Singapore”, Song Fa Bak Kut Teh is pretty much going to be at the top of your search results. We actually happened to see a Song Fa Bak Kut Teh located just across the street from our apartment and had this place in mind to try (before we leave).
Bak Kut Teh 肉骨茶 literally means “meat bone tea” in Chinese and is a common dish in Singapore and Malaysia but hails from Hokkien or Teochew Chinese culture. It’s basically pork ribs simmered in strong Chinese herbs; and it has always been the strong Chinese herbs that have deterred me from actually enjoying Bak Kut Teh.
But since Song Fa Bak Kut Teh just happened to be on our way home from seeing the Wonder Full Water and Light Show at Marina Bay Sands, we stopped by for supper just 30 minutes before closing. Even at that hour, there was a little line but it wasn’t too bad.
We ordered while waiting in line outside. We were served our food along with the receipt shortly after being seated. And as the sign on the table said “Kindly pay when food is served” we paid once all of our food was served.
I have only experienced something like this once, when we were at a Taiwanese restaurant in Sydney Australia. Is that a common thing in Asia or elsewhere?
Also note the pretty wet naps that are one the table. They’re not free.
We ordered a couple soups, a braised dish and a side dish. Though you will see that the side dish looks much more like the main dish.
One very much recommended dish would be the Pork Rib Soup (Bak Kut Teh). They have several different soups with different types of meat but the Pork Rib Soup is the only one labeled as “Bak Kut Teh” in Chinese. So I guess that makes a must have.
I tried it, but to be honest I’m not a fan. Mainly because this is a white pepper soup and I don’t actually like the taste of pepper (I know. Weird). But my family really enjoyed it. And I think BH would really like this too.
The meat was cooked well with all of the flavors of the soup infused in the meat and came off the bone easily.
Although this bowl looks tiny, they keep a free flow of soup into your bowl throughout your meal (not free flow of meat).
The Pigs Kidney Soup was pretty much the same as the Pork Rib Soup (Bak Kut Teh).
It’s also interesting that each table has a little sink and a tea pot. The sink is only for pouring out tea (and water?) and absolutely not for washing your hands.
It makes so much sense to have the water heated up at your table since the servers are busy refilling soup. Who wants to bother trying to wave down a server to get more water? The food actually goes very well with different types of fancy tea. So if we had more time and energy we definitely would have ordered some fancy tea to enjoy with our food.
The menu is basically split in 3 sections. Soup, Tea, and Braised food. We tried a couple soups and skipped the tea. Next is the braised stuff.
The number 1 recommended item on the braised food menu is the Braised Pork Foot. Sounds pretty exotic! But it really doesn’t look as scary as it sounds. The meat is already in a fall off the bones (almost melt in your mouth) state when it arrives at your table.
The meat as been braised in the sauce to have absorbed all of the flavors while the meat is not dried out.
And then we ordered the Braised Bean Curd. It’s actually a Braised Bean Curd SHEET or tofu skin. Tofu is such an odd versatile ingredient and pretty much comes in almost any form. Did you know tofu skin is not exactly the skin of tofu…it is actually a thin layer of soy that is formed at the top of a pot of boiling soy milk. And in this case, the sheet is usually then dried and rehydrated to be braised.
Haha, sorry about that little lesson on Tofu Skin (Bean Curd)! I just find it so fascinating.
The braised bean curd ends up in a soft texture to eat. My mom has been preparing quite a bit of this bean curd sheet ever since this trip after realizing that both Yunti and I both like this so much. Apart from being braised, how else do you eat this?