food

Feng Xiang Bak Kut Teh, Beauty World: “Perfect smokey fried porridge, even if herbal Bak Kut Teh was unsatiating”

Last Updated: September 19, 2021

Written by Guest Writer

Fried porridge—it’s the greatest dish you’ve never heard of. While there aren’t many places you can get your fried porridge fix, it’s garnered heaps of adulation from hawker food lovers who revel in the heavy dose of smoke.

Still, quite an unknown dish, the go-to spot for fried porridge is Old World Bak Kut Teh, which kickstarted the craze in 2020 and my current benchmark. Hopping onto the hype train is the new Feng Xiang Bak Kut Teh that serves not only fried porridge but also KL-style herbal bak kut teh.

Feng Xiang Bak Kut Teh stall

After opening their first outlet in Kallang Bahru in May 2021, they’ve already opened a second outlet at the top level of Beauty World Centre, which has also seen a surge of popularity recently.

Naturally, as a fan of unique fried porridge, I had to head down to Feng Xiang Bak Kut Teh’s outlet at Beauty World to verify the hype for ourselves.

man wok-frying with flames in wok

The queues at Feng Xiang are much more manageable even during the lunch peak, compared to other popular bak kut teh stalls. 

My heart was set racing by the rousing flames on the stove, enveloping each claypot vessel and sending trails of smoke racing through the kitchen space and imbuing the air with the tantalising scent of wok hei.

What I tried

mixed pig's organ fried porridge

Needless to say, I beelined for the most unique item at Feng Xiang Bak Kut Teh, the much-covered Mixed Pig’s Organ Fried Porridge (S$5.90). Having savoured Old World’s classic on multiple occasions, I’ve been trying to find an alternative to no avail—until now. So how did it fare?

Enchantingly, it felt very familiar but also quite a different animal from the woks of my usual fried porridge haunt. For one, the wok hei is not only more intense but also feels very much like a different kind of smokiness.

scoop of mixed pig's organ fried porridge

One way to describe it is that it’s blunter—more gratuitous but lacked some of the nuances its competitor displayed. Feng Xiang Bak Kut Teh’s rendition provided something more akin to an unadulterated outburst of wok hei, perhaps due to the claypot. And if you’re a wok hei junkie, this might satisfy you more.

In the texture department, it’s equally smooth but the array of pork organs were noticeably less tender than what I’m used to. Of course, they are still better than the average pig organ soup shop in execution but my usual haunt had already set a mighty lofty benchmark.

bak kut teh

Another distinguishing factor of Feng Xiang Bak Kut Teh was their choice of KL-style herbal Bak Kut Teh (S$6.90/S$11.90) instead of the pepper-loaded concoctions prevalent in Singapore.

Admittedly, I have only tried a handful of this rarer variety in Singapore so my points of reference are rather scant. But as a standalone dish, without context, it was rather un-noteworthy.

close-up of bak kut teh

It was a comforting bowl of soup though if you just need something straightforward to warm your tummies up. Alas, it fell regrettably short if you desire any form of nuance, sporting a rather mundane blend of barely-present herbal notes amidst a gamut of sweetness.

More importantly, the meat was tediously tough to chew. The flesh was so arid that I wonder if Feng Xiang Bak Kut Teh’s gratuitous pyrotechnics might have unfortunately caused it to overcook.

dry bak kut teh

On the other hand, the Dry Bak Kut Teh (S$7.90/S$13.90) might be a more satisfying choice if you crave some rich herbal notes. The slick black sauce boasted of a fragrant profile that’s a multi-faceted medley of herbal, umami, and slightly spicy notes.

It’s almost like a homely mix of the garlic spring onion sauce and gong bao chicken that you can find at most zi char stalls. Combined together, they actually make quite the enjoyable companion to White Rice (S$0.70). Sadly, Feng Xiang Bak Kut Teh’s performance issues with meat dryness still persisted here.

close-up of dry bak kut teh

Final thoughts

Quite honestly, I might have raised my expectations too high when I finally discovered an alternative to Old World Bak Kut Teh’s fried porridge in Singapore. So when Feng Xiang Bak Kut Teh fell short of expectations, the disappointment was compounded.

In reality, the stall does serve up some earnest, hearty comfort food. The fried porridge provided the perfect smokey hit, even if the herbal bak kut teh left me unsatiated. Hey, even Old World Bak Kut Teh fell short in the actual bak kut teh department. But then again most other items will pale in comparison to the hedonistic indulgence that fried porridge provides. Each stall has their pros and cons, so it’s really up to personal preference.

If you’re in the vicinity and looking for something unique, definitely check out Feng Xiang Bak Kut Teh, even if it’s just a one-time affair for novelty’s sake.

Seth’s note: In defence of Feng xiang, I find the herbal bak kut teh soup authentically similar to what you can find in Johor Bahru, Malaysia and while I love it, it depends on each individual’s interpretation. Porridge is a must try.

Expected damage: S$6 – S$14 per pax

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Price: $

Our Rating: 3 / 5

Feng Xiang Bak Kut Teh

144 Upper Bukit Timah Road, Beauty World Centre, #04-65, Singapore 588177

Price
Our Rating 3/5

Feng Xiang Bak Kut Teh

144 Upper Bukit Timah Road, Beauty World Centre, #04-65, Singapore 588177

Operating Hours: 10.30am - 3pm & 4.30pm - 8pm (Mon to Fri), 9am - 3pm & 4.30pm - 8pm (Sat & Sun)

Operating Hours: 10.30am - 3pm & 4.30pm - 8pm (Mon to Fri), 9am - 3pm & 4.30pm - 8pm (Sat & Sun)
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