Tea Inn Bak Kut Teh: Aromatic braised pork rice & claypot herbal BKT sold for only 6 hours a day

How many of you prefer Malaysia’s herbal rendition of bak kut teh over our peppery version? I, for one, am a fan of it. And so, in search of that, I headed to 93 Toa Payoh Lorong 4 Market & Food Centre, where Tea Inn Bak Kut Teh is located.

tea inn bak kut teh - stallfront

The hawker stall is opened by 31-year-old Jenere, who has spent the last 5 years in the F&B industry. He was previously working for a friend for 4 years at a BBQ seafood hot plate joint at Yishun. Being an avid soup lover, Jenere decided to venture on his own and start selling claypot herbal bak kut teh.

Besides that dish, I also spotted other items on the menu like braised pork trotters, sesame oil chicken and more. They cater mainly to the breakfast and lunch crowds, operating from 8am to 2pm.

While he was busy working his magic in the kitchen, I had a chat with his mum who was assisting him at the stall that day.

tea inn bak kut teh - stall owner

“He is very particular about his food standards. If it does not make the mark, he will throw it away and do a fresh batch”, she shared with me candidly.

After working for 14 years in the kitchen, I’ve seen my fair share of chefs taking short cuts and settling for something that tastes sub par. And this is even more prevalent now, when food prices are at a high and F&B businesses are scrambling to find solutions to cut costs.

This goes to show that Jenere is very dedicated to his craft, and is determined to serve only the best to his customers— I’ve tons of respect for him.

What I tried at Tea Inn Bak Kut Teh

tea inn bak kut teh - pork trotters

Pork trotters is one dish I hardly ever order. The Braised Pork Trotters (S$5.50) came with one trotter which was doused in a soya sauce gravy and chopped up into pieces.

Let’s talk about the thick viscous gravy that was jet black in colour. My taste buds picked up underlying hints of star anise, and a mixture of different kinds of spices. It tasted like it had gone through hundreds of trial runs because it was perfectly balanced and robust tasting.

tea inn bak kut teh - pork trotter gravy

Jenere mentioned that oyster sauce, five spice powder and dang gui are just some of the ingredients that go into this magical sauce.

“The rest are a trade secret, can’t reveal too much”, he replied cheekily.

tea inn bak kut teh - pork trotter

The meat from the trotter had soaked up all of that phenomenal goodness coming from the gravy right up to the skin, which took on a tempting caramelised shade of brown. The gelatinous texture of the skin, fats and meat worked well together like a close-knit family.

My dining partner and I felt that even though the Braised Pork Trotters were soft, it could still be more braised, till it achieved the fall-off-the-bone stage.

tea inn bak kut teh - braised pork rice

We proceeded to the next dish, the Braised Pork Rice (S$4). It had chunks of pork belly, pickled mustard greens, plain rice doused in braised sauce gravy, and a sprinkling of fried shallots.

tea inn bak kut teh - braised pork rice

I proceeded to mix everything up to balance out the different textures and ingredients. If you’re accustomed to having braised pork rice from Taiwan, you’ll find that the version served here is less oily.

tea inn bak kut teh - braised pork closeup

The meat-to-fat ratio of the pork belly was 80/20, which allowed us to have more without feeling too overwhelmed with the “jelakness“. The addition of the pickled mustard greens and fried shallots gave varying levels of crunch, with a subtle acidic punch coming in gradually.

tea inn bak kut teh - pickled mustard greens closeup

This was a simple no-frills kind of dish which was totally up my alley. All the flavours and textures were on point and I literally had no complaints about it— this was my favourite so far!

tea inn bak kut teh - claypot herbal bak kut teh

We ended our lazy Tuesday lunch with the Claypot Herbal Bak Kut Teh (S$5.50). It was served piping hot in a claypot with thick chunks of pork ribs, enoki mushrooms, and paper-thin pieces of bean curd skin swimming in a herbal broth.

tea inn bak kut teh - porkrib closeup

The pork ribs had a colossal amount of meat, and were braised until fork-tender. The bean curd skin wasn’t overly boiled and released small amounts of herbal broth into my mouth which it had absorbed. This ingredient would be perfect if you were lost in a desert!

tea inn bak kut teh - ingredients

The enoki mushrooms gave the dish a satisfying crunchy mouthfeel. It got me thinking that every dish has different components which are there for a reason. That’s why food is more than just a means of satisfying hunger— it’s an experience.

tea inn bak kut teh - dipping pork rib in dark soya

“What sorcery is this?” I thought to myself after I dunked my pork ribs into the dark soya dip. A higher grade of dark soya sauce is probably used here. It possessed this aromatic smokiness which enveloped the meat, and proceeded to hit me with tiny sensations of spiciness coming from the chilli padi.

tea inn bak kut teh - herbal broth

Perhaps my only gripe about this dish would be the herbal broth. There was a presence of herbs in the taste but I wished it was slightly stronger and had been simmered longer.

Final Thoughts

tea inn bak kut teh - overall view

In the past, I would only get the chance to eat herbal bak kut teh in faraway places like JB. I’m actually glad that I found a good hawker stall selling this particular dish at Toa Payoh and we have more options available in other parts of Singapore.

Jenere shared that he is improving along the way by gathering feedback (mine included) from his customers.

With such a positive attitude and open mindset coupled with wallet-friendly prices, this place won my heart over. I look forward to returning to Tea Inn Bak Kut Teh for a meal with my foodie friends.

Expected damage: S$4 – S$6.50 per pax

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Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Tea Inn Bak Kut Teh

93 Lorong 4 Toa Payoh, #01-33 , Singapore 310093

Price
Our Rating 4/5

Tea Inn Bak Kut Teh

93 Lorong 4 Toa Payoh, #01-33 , Singapore 310093

Telephone: +65 9649 4175
Operating Hours: 8am - 2pm (Tue to Sun), Closed on Mon
Telephone: +65 9649 4175

Operating Hours: 8am - 2pm (Tue to Sun), Closed on Mon

Have an interesting hawker story or good food to share? Email us at [email protected]

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