A comparison of the Singaporean Teochew and the Malaysian Klang (Hokkien) Bak Kut Teh using the analogy of wine


You all know Simon. Couple of weekends ago, he visited us and commented about how our local Bak Kut Teh (BKT) was not as flavorful as the Klang version.

A defense of our local clear version of Bak Kut Teh is that it gives an “honest” clean taste whereas with the Klang version with its herbs and soy sauce, it is easy to hide inferior quality pork within the heavy liquor. Nevertheless, we had a tasting of Bak Kut Teh (BKT) documented here.

And this is what Simon had to say.


It would be along the lines of trying to compare a fruit bomb to a svelte little Pinot. If we run with the wine analogy, the coupage itself is quite different as the Sing methode employs fewer elements. Missing are the Chinese herbs and black soy but also many cuts of pork that infuse both flavor (from fat) and also texture (from gelatine) into the Klang methode. The latter is perhaps overlooked as the Klang version has a rather fuller, sumptious mouth feel from all the leg and trotter bits.

Then comes the elevage, or cooking. Klang is a long, deep extraction process of slow boiling and topping up against the far more a la minute approach encountered on Saturday. The former focuses largely on the soup and the gristly bits while the latter celebrates more fragile tastes and textures. If the kidneys were a point of pride in Havelock Rd, they hold no place of honor in Klang, where the trotter, belly and knuckles rule. Indeed the kidneys etc. are literally relegated to ‘Mixed Bits’.

I respect clean taste of Sing BKT but it is difficult for me to perceive it as BKT due to cultural indoctrination. I am thus able to appreciate it on its own merits but it lacks the comfort factor associated with the dark colored stuff. Next time you guys come up though, I shall bring you to my favorite BKT which to me encapsulates all I find delightful in a herbal porky soup which the Sing version is not, ‘herbal’ that is.

I do however firmly believe that the introduction of a ham bone into the Sing BKT broth would be a horribly wicked breach of the Appellation rules….


I can’t wait to go back to Malaysia… 🙂

Chai Bey (Pickled Mustard Greens)

Posted on 19th Aug 2010 in Hokkien, Malaysia, Singapore, Teochew


There Are 2 Comments


Camemberu commented on August 20, 2010 at 10:11 am

I do not know wines, coupage and elevage, but I know I am also partial to Malaysian-style BKT! Full and sumptuous mouthfeel says it all! 🙂


Eevon commented on August 27, 2010 at 9:24 am

Me too! Give me herbal porky soup over peppery clear broth anytime! Oh I love how Simon describes BKT (:

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