Last Updated: April 5, 2017
A Chinese soup commonly found on the streets of Singapore and Malaysia, Bak Kut Teh 肉骨茶 is a dish which all Singaporeans start to crave a few weeks into being overseas. Directly translating to ‘meat bone tea’ in English, Bak Kut Teh is customarily prepared through many hours of simmering meaty pork ribs in a broth of pepper and garlic, amongst other herbs. Don’t be fooled by its name: the soup itself does not contain tea of any kind.
Some possible origin explanations for the name include the fact that you would drink this soup with Chinese tea, or that the color of the soup resembles tea and reinvigorates the coolies back in the day. Primarily, 2 versions of Bak Kut Teh exist in Asia: the Teochew peppery clear soup one, and a Klang-style herbal dark broth usually cooked in a claypot.
A popular dish in Singapore with its own heritage, I believe there are many fans of Bak Kut Teh. Therefore, I proudly present the best Bak Kut Teh in Singapore which I have enjoyed the most. I most certainly hope you agree with my choices.
Located directly above One North MRT (Circle Line), indulging in a bowl of Rong Hua’s Bak Kut Teh is akin to personally savouring the taste of traditional Teochew heritage. The story goes that Mr Chua Ah Hua, the stall’s founding father, came to Singapore in order to better provide for his family back in the 1920s.
Originally a coolie (hard labourer) who enjoyed a bowl of piping hot Bak Kut Teh which fuelled him for days of hard work, his interest in the dish eventually propelled him to find pupilage as a kitchen apprentice at a well known Teo Chew Bak Kut Teh stall owned by his village elder, Uncle Rong. And thus, through the combination of teacher and pupil’s names, Rong Hua Bak Kut Teh was formed. Peppery with just the right amount of kick, the soup is so delicious that I never fail to make use of the free refills Rong Hua provides.
Rong Hua Bak Kut Teh: 1 Fusionopolis, #02-13, Connexis (Directly above One-North MRT station), Singapore 138632 | Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday: 11:00-21:00; Closed Sunday & Public Holidays | Tel: 6469 3536 | Website
The walls here are filled with pictures of local and overseas celebrities (local heartthrob Fann Wong, Taiwanese pop singer Jay Chou and even Hong Kong actor slash singer Emil Chau) who have graced Legendary/Founder Bak Kut Teh with their presence, it is no surprise that the stall has made its way onto the list. It has been said that Jay Chou enjoyed his bowl of Bak Kut Teh so much the first time he ate it that he ordered for a takeaway the very next day.
Two days straight of Legendary Bak Kut Teh? Well, I can certainly understand why. Naturally sweet from pork juices, the soup finishes off with a nice peppery kick. Tender with great fats marbling, the generous slices of meat are also highly enjoyable once dipped in chilli sauce.
Legendary Bak Kut Teh: 154 Rangoon Road, Singapore 218431 | Opening Hours Daily 09:00-22:30; Closed Wednesday| Tel: 6292 0938 | Website
Forty odd years since its very first operation, Song Fa Bak Kut Teh has come a long way from its days of being sold from a humble pushcart stall. The stall’s interior is elaborately designed to remind diners of the 1960s’ roadside dining atmosphere – showcasing both Song Fa’s modesty and its promise to always deliver that authentic, Teochew Bak Kut Teh taste.
I adore Song Fa’s Bak Kut Teh broth for its clear, peppery and garlicky taste. On good days, the pork meat is also fall-off-the-bone tender.
Song Fa Bak Kut Teh: Chinatown Point #01-04, 133 New Bridge Road, Singapore 059413 | Opening Hours: 10:30am – 9:30pm, Last order 9:15pm Daily | Tel: +65 6443 1033 | Website
Having started operations in the early days of 1977, Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh has attempted to differentiate themselves from their competition through boosting the peppery taste of their hearty broth.
Obviously, this has worked very well for Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh – legions of loyal fans swear by the unique, robust flavour of the soup which they have come to associate only with Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh. If you’re a huge fan of full-bodied, almost-spicy Bak Kut Teh broths, this stall will be right up your alley.
Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh: 208 Rangoon Road, Hong Building Singapore 218453 | Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 07:00-22:00; Closed Monday | Tel: 6291 4537 | Website
Fancy a piping-hot bowl of comforting, peppery and full-flavoured Bak Kut Teh soup after a long, tiring and sweaty night spent in the club? Well, Outram Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh is here to take care of all your weird post-clubbing cravings: this place stays open till 4am through most days of the week.
Located in a pretty ulu area in a open coffeeshop setting, this stall’s broth can be a little overpowering; some of my friends have complained about the exceedingly strong peppery taste but I find it highly enjoyable.
I guess it all eventually still boils down to personal preferences: if you like your bak kut teh to veer on the spicy side, then you should give Outram Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh a go.
Outram Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh: PSA Tanjong Pagar Complex, 7 Keppel Road #01-05/07 s089053 | Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 06:00-15:00/18:00-0400; Closed Monday | Tel: 6222 9610
Even though the Teochew version of peppery Bak Kut Teh is more widely accepted and loved by the Singaporean population, there are many foodies who are still fans of the Malaysian Hokkien herbal version of the traditional pork broth. Having served up bowl after bowl of hearty Bak Kut Teh since 1983, Sin Heng Claypot Bak Kut Teh offers the best of both worlds; the stall features the both variations of traditional Bak Kut Teh – Teochew and Hokkien.
Can’t decide? Why not have both, they’re all excellent. Also, Sin Heng is open past midnight: a perfect place to grab supper at.
Sin Heng Claypot Bak Kut Teh: 439 Joo Chiat Road | Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 07:30-16:30; Closed Monday | Tel: 6345 8754
Through indulging in a bowl of New Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh, you’re actually helping the community: the stall hires ex-offenders in order to provide them with the opportunity to start anew. Other than accumulating good karma, you can look forward to a more spiced up version of the traditional bak kut teh: New Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh’s broths contain golden mushrooms, dried beancurd and tasty piggy innards – not just your pork meat and soup.
New Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh: 949 Upper Serangoon Road Singapore 534713 |Opening Hours: Daily 11:00-23:00 | Tel: 6284 3717 | Facebook
What a pleasant name for a stall: Heng Heng translates to ‘lucky’ in the Hokkien dialect: here’s to wishing that lady luck will choose to side with you more after a bowl of Bak Kut Teh here, eh? For those who prefer their soup to be less peppery, Heng Heng Bak Kut Teh will be perfect. Its broth has significantly less ‘oomph’ to it than stalls like Ng Ah Sio or even Rong Hua Bak Kut Teh. The health-conscious will also take comfort in the leanness of the pork meat used for the brewing of their stock base.
Heng Heng Bak Kut Teh: 107 Owen Road, Singapore 218914 | Opening Hours: Daily 07:30-09:00/11:30-14:30| Tel: 6292 4913
With its affordable prices, it is no wonder that Joo Siah Bak Kut Teh has managed to win over a sizeable number of loyal customers to its stall, located humbly within a hawker centre in Jurong East. “Cheap but good” is usually the first thing which comes to mind when one is prompted with ‘Joo Siah Bak Kut Teh’. It has even been alleged that this stall’s Bak Kut Teh is good enough to rival some of the bigger players in the market, such as Founder’s or even Ya Hua’s. Well, go have a taste and be the judge of that yourself!
Joo Siah Bak Kut Teh: Blk 349 Jurong East Ave 1 Coffee Shop, Singapore 600349 | Opening Hours: Tuesday to Friday 08:30-19:00; Saturday & Sunday 08:00-16:00; Closed Monday| Website
If you have ever tried Lau Ah Tee’s Bak Kut Teh, you’ll probably find that it tastes highly similar to that of Ng Ah Sio’s Bak Kut Teh. Well, here’s a little backstory: Mr Sim Choon Lian (or Lau Ah Tee), the owner of Lau Ah Tee Bak Kut Teh, had actually learnt the recipe for the much-loved broth from his uncle, Ng Mui Song – the founder of Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh.
Interesting, huh! With their pork sourced directly from Indonesia, the broth is lovingly brewed with only three other main ingredients: water, garlic and pepper.
How a simple combination like that could ever produce Bak Kut Teh of such outstanding nature, I can never fathom.
Lau Ah Tee Bak Kut Teh: Blk 34 Whampoa West, #01-67, Singapore 330034 | Opening Hours: Daily 07:00-15:00 | Tel: 9755 5250
I really love how Old Street Bak Kut Teh have tau huay (beancurd in sweet syrup) included inside their set meals. This is unique, isn’t it? Pictured here is their Set Menu A, that comes with a bowl of Pork Ribs soup, rice, you tiao (fried fritters) and tauhuay.
Soup base served was acceptably well seasoned, not too salty. However it can get saltier on the palate after 2-3 refills, so drink up mixed with rice or drip the you tia (fried dough fritters) in. Like I mentioned how I love that there’s local sweet beancurd in the meal, this helps you get your sweet dessert settled as well.
Old Street Bak Kut Teh: Westgate 3 Gateway Drive Singapore 608532 | Website | Opening Hours: Daily 10-00-22:00
Ah Seng Bak Kut Teh used to be housed together with other stalls in a coffee shop that could be seen just directly opposite Bugis Junction (North Bridge Road side). Recently, they have moved a few shop spaces away and now have their own restaurant unit still nearby. Prominent banners with their restaurant namesake can be seen for those who yearn for this local favorite.
Their soup is packs a serious punch and is chokingly peppery. A caveat for those who can’t take spices well, beware. The spiciness level drops as you dig further into the bowl, probably as your tongue gets desensitized from it. Their Loin Ribs have extremely good fat content which gave a tender bite to the meat as well.
Ah Seng Bak Kut Teh: 530 North Bridge Road #01-01 Singapore 188747 | Tel: 6635 2583 | Opening Hours: Daily 10-00-22:00 (call to enquire as timing may varies)
Without a doubt, each time I get to Alexandra Village, this will be my must-order apart from the popular Avocado juice. Leon Kee’s bak kut teh is served in a claypot style so expect pipping hot soup to be served to you. Apart from that, the soup could easily be the best herbal flavour I’ve tried, packed with rich sweetness.
The meat is browned from being marinated in the dark soup and gives that extra dimension rather than just having a garlic and pepper flavour. I also recommend you to order their pig’s liver and intestines as well as sides because they too are extremely well braised and delectable.
Leon Kee Claypot:#01-18, Alexandra Village Food Centre, Blk 120 Bukit Merah Lane 1, Singapore 150120 | Opening Hours: Daily 10-00-22:00
The kind of bak kut teh served at Rong Cheng belongs to the lighter, mild peppery soup kind, soup is clear and light enough for you to keep drinking without feeling overwhelmed. Unlike other soups which are heavier and saltier, this is a hit amongst the older generation.
However as you continue to drink the soup, the taste somehow increase in pepper taste. Meat is sometimes inconsistent though, and was tender and fall off the bone easily one time, yet hard and tough the next time I’ve been here. Still, the snaking long queue on the weekend mornings is testament to how much the neighborhood loves this bak kut teh.
Rong Cheng Bak Kut Teh: Blk 26 Sin Ming Lane #01-117 Midview City, Singapore 573971 | Tel:6684 1889 | Website | Opening Hours: Daily 07:00-21:00
Tuan Yuan Bak Kut Teh is a family business affiliated to Ya Hua and Mr Gwee’s pork ribs soup legacy is continued by the humble Gwee siblings, Mario and Fiona, who are actively involved in running the place. The modernized restaurant is rather homely, largely due to the attentive and caring staff.
Air-conditioned, it is comfortable easy dining compared to traditional bak kut teh spots.
The rich flavour of Tuan Yuan’s Bak Kut Teh arises from Mr Gwee’s insistence on using only quality ingredients like fresh (not frozen!) pork from Indonesia, Sarawak white pepper and old garlic. The bones are boiled for hours to get this richness.
Tuan Yuan Bak Kut Teh: Block 127 Kim Tian Road, #01-01, Singapore 160127 | Tel: 6684 0123/9050 0123 | Closed Mondays | Tuesdays to Sundays, 0800-0300 | Website