Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh is going places, recently opened downtown at both Raffles City and Takashimaya Shopping Centre basements.
I am all for our hawker delicacies moving from humble stalls and shops into swanky commercial malls, provided if they can keep the taste more or less consistent.
Consider this one of the ways to preserve this Singapore food heritage, and for more international diners to know about the local food culture.
Bak Kut Teh is one of those foods which have found relative success, and it is not exaggerating to say there is one new BKT eatery opening up in Singapore every other week.
Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh has its humble beginnings in Outram Park estate, founded by Madam Gwee Peck Hua, with the recipe developed with sister Madam Gwee Guek Hwa.
I do go to both the Havelock Road flagship and Keppel Road branch when I need a Bak Kut Teh fix, when I have supper cravings for the pepper, clear Teochew style soup base matched with tender pork ribs.
Incidentally, the children of the founders of Outram Park Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha has set up Tuan Yuan Pork Rib Soup at Tiong Bahru, which was actually not too bad an attempt.
Now, as for the restaurant at Raffles City…
The signatures are the Prime Cut Ribs ($10.50), Ribs ($7.70) with other combinations such as Kidney Soup ($7.70), Mee Sua with Minced Pork Ball ($8.80), Intestine Soup ($7.50) and Stomach Soup ($7.50).
As diners, I don’t think we would expect a 100% when it is more mass-produced. At least 70-80% close to the original?
I am not sure if it is an attempt to suit the broth to a larger, more mass audience.
Somehow, the soup base just lacked the ‘oomph’ – not as peppery, not as robust, not as flavourful, just a mild, rather forgettable attempt.
My friend commented that the ribs were not as tender or tender as Song Fa’s, which I unfortunately had to agree at that point of time.
It is inevitable that when a shop is set up in the city, the menu would be diversified to cater to families and larger groups.
Actually, I still found the Bak Kut Teh overall acceptable, though not as good as the original.
BUT the side dishes pulled the overall experience down.
The Fried Prawn Rolls ($7.80) were starchy in the fillings, deep fried till dry and shrivelled (you can tell from the pictures); and the Steamed Otah ($6.5) somewhat mushy and uninspiring.
So Ya Hua, I love your Bak Kut Teh, but really hope something is done to keep that taste consistent.
Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh
Raffles City #B1-44B, 252 North Bridge Road Singapore 179103
Tel: +65 6264 7066
391 Orchard Road, Takashimaya Shopping Centre, #B2-32 Ngee Ann City, Singapore 238872
Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh Eating House
593, Havelock Road #01-01/02, Isetan Office Building, Singapore 169641
Tel: +65 6235 7716
Opening Hours: 11am – 2am (Tues, Thurs), 11am – 3am (Wed, Fri, Sat), 11am – 10pm (Sun), Closed Sun
Outram Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha Restaurant
No 7 Keppel Road #01-05/07, PSA Tanjong Pagar Complex, Singapore 089053
Tel: +65 6222 9610
Opening Hours: 7am – 3am (Tues – Sat), 7am – 1am (Sun), Closed Mon
* Daniel’s Food Diary pays for food reviewed unless otherwise stated.