When Pao Xiang Bah Kut Teh came to Singapore, local bloggers were quick to condemn it.
Well, it’s a case of casting pearls before swine, really.
Singaporeans are more used to the Teochew version with pale looking meat, and peppery clear soup with garlic cloves inside.
Well, Pao Xiang is Hokkien-style bah kut teh from Malaysia’s Port Klang – dark, herbal-rich soup and served piping hot.
The bowl is small, and placed on top of a burner; the soup is not a lot, but with the consistency and taste somewhat similar to chicken essence, you don’t really want to quaff it like H20 anyway. Tea is recommended as the drink of choice when eating this dish, hence the “teh” in bah kut teh.
Pao Xiang cooks the pork by tying the pork pieces with string; they have a rather long, unconvincing, illogical and confusing explanation why they do this but I don’t care what they say because their version of bah kut teh suits me just fine and the soup is as perfect as it should be.
The menu is complicated – Pao Xiang divides the pig into different parts and even shows you a chart:
Yup, you can’t just sit down and ask for “bah kut teh” – you have to know what you want (there are about 15 types of meat) and the menu is a cheat sheet of porcine anatomy.
Pao Xiang is at NEX and also at Marina Square. I’ve eaten at the NEX outlet twice and once at the Marina Square outlet. At Marina Square, I pigged out with a bowl of their signature dish of somewhat fatty pork slices they called the chew pai bah (left) and a bowl of ka wan, which is a part of pork leg, accompanied by a bowl of rice and a can of chilled green tea. It cost a little over 28 bucks; pricey but the taste was oh so divine – bah kut teh the way we Hokkiens love; the way my grandma used to cook it: