It’s cold and I have a huge scarf wrapped around my neck. As I edit the pictures for this current post, my insides are weeping with the envy and hunger of ‘past-me’ who was fortunate enough to have this fragrant and comforting bowl of Bak Kut Teh in Malaysia.
“Paku te?” my boyfriend mockingly laughs at me… In Tongan, ‘paku te’ means burnt poo. Yes, I want a nice hot bowl of burnt poo… NOT!
No, I want a piping hot bowl of Bak Kut Teh – a dark, garlicky and rich soup, filled with a heaping mound of pork ribs, pork belly, shiitake mushrooms, and tofu puffs. Then I want to dip some tasty pork intestines in a small saucer with chopped up red bird’s eye chillies and soya sauce!! My stomach is growling maliciously for conjuring up this deliciously haunting memory… “Take me back to Asia already,” it pleads. 😫
In Malaysia, Bak Kut Teh is served as a dark, fragrant soup that is rich in flavour, intensified with herbal spices and most importantly, pork fatty goodness! Conversely, in Singapore you’ll find the Teochew style of Bak Kut Teh, which is very peppery in a clear base pork bone broth. Malaysians and Singaporeans could argue for days on end about where Bak Kut Teh originated from, but the general consensus seems to be that it was brought over by a Chinese man named Lee Boon Teh from Fujian, China to Malaysia in the 1940s.
Being of Hokkien descent (a dialect originating from southern Fujian), this dish came with a Hokkien name, Bak Kut which translates to pork bone. Since this dish became such a hit in Malaysia, Lee Boon Teh’s name became synonymous with the dish and its name eventually evolved into Bak Kut Teh.
Now, it’s said that Lee Boon Teh first set up shop in Malaysia by the Klang train station and Klang South police station in 1945. There he served newly immigrated Fujianese settlers a familiar dish from home. From then on, Klang has become famously well-known as Bak Kut Teh central in Malaysia. Having said that, you can still get great Bak Kut Teh in areas other than Klang. One of my favourite places to eat Bak Kut Teh is Restoran Bak Kut Teh Yap Chuan Puchong. It’s the huge corner lot restaurant in the area and it’s always buzzing with locals.
Our usual order is a big bowl of Bak Kut Teh soup with pork ribs and pork belly, pig intestines, shiitake and enoki mushrooms (the long, stringy mushrooms), tofu puffs and yau cha guai (deep fried Chinese crullers). The great thing about Bak Kut Teh is that you can easily customize your order and add on ingredients that you like or exclude anything that you aren’t a fan of (i.e. pig intestines). Soup refills are free and unlimited which is AH-MAY-ZING! I’m that annoying person constantly trying to wave down the servers for soup refills 😁
Besides the soup version of Bak Kut Teh, there is also the dry version of Bak Kut Teh which is made by simply reducing the soup into a thick sauce. Personally, I will always be a Bak Kut Teh soup lover. Ya can’t beat a classic!
Being such a meat-heavy broth, it’s always nice to balance things out with some greens! Here we have yau mak (Chinese lettuce) stir-fried in a simple oyster sauce with fried garlic bits.
You gotta try Bak Kut Teh for yourself if ever in Malaysia. Most importantly, the soup version! Restoran Bak Kut Teh Yap Chuan Puchong is Pinchables approved 🙂
May The Pinchables Be With You,
Location: 53, Jalan Bpu 2, Bandar Puchong Utama, 47100 Puchong, Selangor, Malaysia
Hours: Monday to Sunday // 9am – 9pm