Last Updated: December 15, 2019
With the end of the year, we also welcome the cooler days of the year in Singapore. What is the ideal dish for you during this rainy season? For me, it’s probably got to be something soupy like bak kut teh.
Bak kut teh is a pork rib dish cooked in broth, popularly served in Malaysia and Singapore where there is a predominant Hokkien and Teochew community.
The famous Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh from Johor Bahru has made its way across the border to Singapore and landed at Holland Village.
Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh has been selling its authentic herbal claypot since 1980 and has made a name for itself ever since. The original owner Mr Pang Kow first started his business by selling bak kut teh using a tricycle pushcart in Kampung Kelantan, Kota Tinggi, Malaysia.
Despite having a limited supply of resources, Mr Pang Kow did not scrimp on the quality of the ingredients and herbs he used for his pork bone soup. Mr Pang believed in the nourishing benefits of herbal bak kut teh and how it replenishes energy levels.
As for what Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh is right now, it is inherited by the second-generation owner, Mr Pang’s son.
The restaurant in Singapore has a rather cosy setting with much of the restaurant’s heritage displayed on the walls.
Mr Pang’s son follows in his father’s footsteps and uses his special recipe and cooking technique. The bak kut teh is made out of a curated blend of 18 different herbs and a variety of pork parts, creating robust and hearty flavours. For bak kut teh lovers, Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh might become your new favourite.
Even though I was most interested in giving the alcoholic bak kut teh a try, I knew it was imperative to also taste the original bak kut teh dishes. So we decided to get a few dishes, starting with the Herbal Bak Kut Teh (S$11.90/small).
We also decided to get the restaurant’s famous Beancurd Skin (S$1) as an add-on to the bak kut teh. The Beancurd Skin was crispy and when dipped into the soup, it became silky smooth.
The broth was quite sweet, lacking the acrid herbal taste. I personally felt that the broth could be more potent because I had specifically chosen the herbal broth for the flavour.
However, I have to be frank about the meat—it wasn’t really to my liking. The meat was rather tough and dry which was quite a disappointment. I really enjoyed the broth and the beancurd but the main star of the dish wasn’t really up to standard.
The next dish that we ordered was the Herbal Spanish Iberico (S$15.90/small). Wondering why this dish is relatively more pricey compared to the others? Well, Iberico pork comes from the distinctive black Iberian pig.
The pigs are native to areas of Portugal and central and southern Spain. Their diet of acorns and elements of the natural forests in these areas gives the meat a distinctive nutty flavour.
This dish came with mini button mushrooms, unlike the Herbal Bak Kut Teh broth. I definitely prefer this dish more because the Iberico pork was a lot softer and easier to pull off from the bone.
Even though this dish had a similar herbal broth, the herbal flavour was much more potent and concentrated which I really enjoyed. The mushrooms were cooked to perfection—not too soft and still chewy.
The next dish that we ordered was the Premium Bak Kut Teh (S$13.90/small). For this last dish, we decided to add on a Shot of Hennessy (S$3.90) to try out the restaurant’s famous alcoholic bak kut teh.
With just one shot, the alcoholic taste did not overpower the original flavours of the broth and it retained its original herbal aroma. Did the Hennessy give the broth a more complex flavour? I’d say no, and I personally prefer the classic bak kut teh broth.
To end off our meal, we tried the Ai Yu Jelly (S$3.50). Did you know that this jelly is made from the gel of the seeds of a creeping fig found in Taiwan and East Asian countries? I really enjoyed this dessert as it was a light yet sweet finish to our heavy meal. The lime and the sweet syrup was also the perfect balance of sour and sweet flavours.
Overall, I wouldn’t say this place is a must-try but if you’re interested in finding out how alcoholic bak kut teh taste like, this is where you can experiment. Other than that, with the cooler weather in December, it’s a great time to give these hot simmering bak kut teh dishes a go!
Expected Damage: S$20 per pax
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 3 / 5
Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh
15A Lor Liput, Singapore 277730
15A Lor Liput, Singapore 277730