My colleagues and I would venture all the way north to Marsiling Lane just to have claypot bak kut teh. The stall is hidden in a little coffeeshop, but yet populated by many who travel there just to have this comfort food. Not sure if you have heard about Hong Ji.
Hong Ji Claypot Bak Kut Teh being herbal and flavoursome, is a class of its own, quite unlike the familiar Teochew peppery type, or the dark soya sauced Hokkien version.
Their rendition reminds me of what I had in Kuala Lumpur. It turns out that the owner had bought the recipe from a Malaysian hawker for $10,000, and improved the formula to its current adaptation.
Another reason for going to Hong Ji is that the price is a steal. Where can you find such tasty claypot Bak Kut Teh for $5.00? The other items such as Braised Pig Intestines, Pig’s Tails, and Braised Pork Belly are at $5, while side dishes of peanuts, salted vegetable, beancurd skin and you tiao go for $1. Cheap!
I tried Hong Ji again within a coffeeshop at Ang Mo Kio Ave 4. While it may be slightly inconvenient to go to, it will be great to try if you are in the vicinity.
Hong Ji’s selling point is the aromatic hot piping broth which takes 6 hours to cook, made with herbs such as dang shen, dang gui and dried tangerine peel. Before it is served, you can already smell the fragrance a few metres away. The soup is light and not overly salty or overpowering, and I could easily finish two bowls of this.
The tender pork ribs are also cut into shorter lengths, such that they are easier to eat. Interestingly, the soup also comes with other ingredients such as tau pok, mushroom and lettuce, which gives it a needed variety.
The other must have are the pig’s intestines cooked in this dark gravy sauce that I find irresistible when added to rice, all chewy without the porky smell or slimy greasy residue.
One thing that took me by surprise is that the person manning the stall at Ang Ko Mio looked like a young girl in her twenties, which I learnt is the daughter of the founder. She shared that while many girls to not like to work in a hot and unglamorous environment, she wants more to know about her father’s creation.
I did feel that the taste of the Ang Mo Kio branch is not as intense as the Marsiling’s main outlet, which the owner’s daughter explained that “the people up North prefer their soup saltier”.
Again, for those who always prefer the strong peppery soup, the Hong Ji Claypot Bak Kut Teh may need some getting used to for its herbal and light taaste. Give it a try and tell me what you think, available at Ang Mo Kio, Marsiling, Geylang and Sim Ming Road. Good news for Upper Thomson residents, I hear they will be going there too.
Hong Ji Claypot Bak Kut Teh
Ang Mo Kio Ave 4, St 11, Blk 107 #01-38 Singapore 560107
Opening Hours: 8:00am – 9:45pm
Marsiling Lane, Blk 19 #01-329, Singapore 730019
Ang Mo Kio Industrial Park 3, Blk 6006, Singapore 569458
Geylang Lor 21A, 205 Sims Ave, Singapore 387506
Sin Ming Road, Blk 22, #01-210, Singapore 570022
* This entry is brought to you by Hong Ji Claypot Bak Kut Teh