Last Updated: January 24, 2020
Bak kut teh—this famous soup-based dish needs no further introduction. Whether you are a fellow Singaporean, or a tourist, your stay in Singapore will not be complete without having a taste of this delectable meaty pork rib soup.
When it comes to bak kut teh, the question is, are you team white or team black? More specifically, team pepper or team herbal?
As a Teochew, I grew up with the Teochew-style bak kut teh. Clear garlicky and peppery broth with two to three distinct pork ribs floating in the soup. However, after being exposed to my first bowl of herbal bak kut teh in JB, I was a convert. The Teochew-style bak kut teh could no longer satisfy me as I was craving the strong, earthy taste and fragrance of the herbal variation of this delicacy.
This was when I was introduced by a Malaysian friend to Jia Bin Klang Bak Kut Teh. “Die die must try”, she told me as she explained that Jia Bin Klang Bak Kut Teh was established over a decade ago in her hometown back in Seremban, Malaysia.
Located along Rangoon Road, Jia Bin Klang Bak Kut Teh is known for their herbal broth Klang-style bak kut teh, a version that is characterised by its dark coloured broth, herbaceous fragrance and variety of ingredients.
The restaurant was spacious, with rows of white lights lined neatly above sturdy wooden tables and chairs coloured in contrasting shades of orange and black. Minimal decorations lend a clean and functional look into the dining area that is able to house large and small groups of patrons.
Boiled using 10 different herbs and spices, the signature Jia Bin Bak Kut Teh (S$8.80), eluded a heady scent which evoked my senses even before it reached our table. Despite looking rather dark and intense, the soup did not have a strong herbal taste. It was in fact, rather light with hints of sweetness and a soothingly dry aftertaste.
What I particularly enjoyed about this dish was the medley of ingredients which filled the claypot. The pork ribs, pork belly, pig stomach, pig intestines, pigtail and tau pok were all cut in bite-size pieces making it very convenient and easy to devour. The pork ribs and pork belly were stewed till soft and tender, with the herbal taste of the soup well-infused into the meat.
Never have I had dry bak kut teh in my life and I was excited to try. Jia Bin Dry Bak Kut Teh (S$8.80) was made with their speciality thick gravy using dark soy sauce, with all the meats and innards stir-fried into a black, savoury ‘mess’.
Comparing it to its soupy counterpart, the earthy herbal taste was being replaced by a deep briny and slightly spicy flavour (all thanks to the use of dried whole chillies). Despite being equally soft, the meats were more flavoursome and had deeper robustness.
I’m not a fan of offals as they usually have a strong pungent and musky taste if not cleaned properly. However, the strong flavours of the dry bak kut teh were able to perfectly mask the acrid odour, making them rather delightful to chew on.
In between my meal, comforting whiffs of hua diao wine filled the air, alluring me to order the Jia Bin Hua Diao Wine Chicken (S$8.80). A decision which I gladly gave myself a pat on the back for. The claypot of hua diao chicken was served piping hot, with the gravy still bubbling on the side.
Most of the hua diao wine probably evaporated during the cooking process as there was no sign of bitterness or “burning” aftertaste in the dish. What was left was its aroma and a tinge of floral notes which lingered in my mouth. The chucks of chicken were juicy and succulent.
Not only that, the gravy was exceptional when drizzled onto plain white rice and eaten together. Go easy on this dish as you will be wolfing down bowls of rice even before you know it.
I was recommended to try Jia Bin Spicy Pork Belly (S$8.80) by our server who mentioned that this was their new ‘it’ menu item. The dish featured thinly sliced pork belly, cooked with dried chilli in the gravy that was used to prepare the dry bak kut teh.
Boy, I must say that this was shiok. For those of you who are fans of bold, intense flavour, order the spicy pork belly and you will not be disappointed. When eaten alone, its salty and savoury notes might be off-putting to some, but when paired with rice, the flavours mellowed, making it a very addictive dish.
Accompanying my claypots of bak kut teh was a bowl of You Tiao (S$2.50) and a plate of Choy Sim With Oyster Sauce (S$5). I appreciated that the you tiao‘s at Jia Bin Klang Bak Kut Teh, were fried till golden brown and very crispy as it helped in retaining its bite even after soaking up all the herbal goodness from the soup. The choy sim was also a nice palate cleanser, leaving me feeling slightly refreshed from all the heavy flavours.
Although I’m in love with Jia Bin Klang Bak Kut Teh’s signature soup based bak kut teh, I felt that the other dishes were on the heavy side. After some time, I found myself constantly reaching out for my cup of Chinese tea to wash down the oiliness from the meat and saltiness from the dark soy sauce-based dishes.
With that being said, for just S$8.80 for most of their small size dishes, Jia Bin Klang Bak Kut Teh is certainly an affordable choice for a wallet-friendly meal!
Expected Damage: S$12 – S$25 per pax
Our Rating: 3 / 5
Jia Bin Klang Bak Kut Teh
62 Rangoon Road, Singapore 218352
62 Rangoon Road, Singapore 218352