Bak Kut Teh ('BKT'), one of the favourite foods in Singapore and it is one of the most subjective. You can ask any 10 persons in the street which is the best BKT in Singapore, my bet is that you will have 10 different answers. So why is this simple bowl of soup with pork ribs able to divide the nation's opinion? Because it can. Firstly, there is difference in the soup base which is the Singapore style (peppery broth) and the Malaysian style (herbal broth). Then it is the diversion of whom serve the best of which style.
For a personal preference, I had prefer the Singapore style because as simple and innocent as it looks, once you sip the clear broth, you can feel the deeper taste of spices at work. The sweet and peppery broth that provide the warmth, comfort and satisfying feeling in you, one of the best comfort food you can find.
In 2011, the judges of Singapore Hawker Masters can't decide which is the best BKT in Singapore, so they have to re-judge this category again in 2012. Luckily this time around they can make up their mind and awarded Madam Gwee Peck Hwa the owner of Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh in Havelock Road as the winner.
Located in Havelock Road opposite, Holiday Inn Atrium, the outside the shop look like a traditional coffee shop. Foldable round and square table with red plastic chair is the main theme of the decoration here for indoor and outdoor. The plus points of this place is that it is air conditioned for the indoor and there are ample parking spaces around the establishment.
|Ya Hua BKT|
So is it actually that good? Lets just say that after I get to know Ya Hua BKT establishment in 2002, this place has been our favourite night BKT place. Safe to say that this review is a culmination of those frequent visits. We ordered the Prime rib BKT - $9 for 2 pieces, Liver and Kidney soup $7.50, Fritter Dough $1.50 and Mushroom Soup $7.50. You might not see the prime rib BKT on the menu as they never upgrade their menu, but just ask the waiter, and you shall be given.
First, THE Prime Rib BKT (also known as pork riblets). It looks very simple with a hot pipping soup. When we take the first sip of the broth, you will taste the robust peppery soup with the sweetness of from the pork and a little garlic flavour. Yummyyy! It taste refreshing, comforting and warmth of the pepper as the broth makes it way from your mouth to your tummy. Maybe this is Singapore hawker answer to consommé. The pork has a perfect balance of meat and fat, which create a perfect tenderness of the meat that you bite into it. Others like to dip their meat into dark soya sauce and fresh cut chilli, I like mine the way it is.
The fritter dough (you tiao) here is smaller and firmer version, different from those you tiao that you buy for breakfast. The reason for this is that even if you let it soak in your broth and absorb all the goodness of those BKT soup, the you tiao will not go mushy and disintegrate. It will maintain its shape even after we leave it inside to absorb the goodness of the soup.
|Fritter Dough - You Tiao|
The liver and kidney in the soup is generously cut and clean properly. The best part, it was cook to perfection, and you can see it as a kidney and liver a bit pink, but this is at its most juicy and tender. Served with fried garlic, spring onion and lettuce. The broth use in this dishes and other dishes without the pork ribs is lighter and not as robust as the BKT broth.
|The Liver and Kidney Soup|
For those who are like my wife that simply loves button mushrooms and black seaweed, you can give this soup a try. The canned button mushrooms is very 'Q' / crunchy and the black seaweed not only nice but also good for your health.
|The Mushroom Soup|
Service here are kept to the minimum, coffeeshop standard. However their waiter consistently walking around to top up your BKT broth. Although it is packed most of the time you can find seat easily as the turnover of customers are also quite fast
Overall, it is a no frill no fuss establishment. The BKT are among the best in Singapore. Although I find their Keppel branch taste slightly better, the air conditioned and ample parking space here make it my preferred destination. I'll be back for more definitely !!!
Food & Drink: 9/10
Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh
593 Havelock Road
#01-01/02 Isetan Office Building
Sun: 11:00 -22:00
Sun: 11:00 -22:00
Tue & Thu: 11:00 – 02:00
Wed, Fri & Sat: 11:00 – 03:00