Talk about Singapore’s most iconic dishes, and Bak Kut Teh or Pork Rib Soup will come to mind.

Many tourists and overseas celebrities put this into their travel itinerary, one of the must-haves when they visit Singapore.

Song Fa is one of the most known brands around, in fact the only Bak Kut Teh shop in Singapore awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand.

I remember my younger days when I had it at New Bridge Road, and it was a source of comfort (especially during cool and rainy weathers). Fast-forward a few years, and it has outlets all over Singapore, China, Indonesia, Thailand, and soon in Taiwan.

There are generally three main styles of Bak Kut Teh in Singapore – the dark, soy sauce Hokkien soup base; the less commonly seen herbal Cantonese style; and the peppery garlicy Teochew style.

Song Fa specialises in the Teochew-style heritage soup.

Its features include fall-off-the-bone tender ribs, and soup that is lighter in colour and aromatic. Served piping hot, the soup displays its trademark clarity and spicy-peppery flavour.

Here are 10 things you may not know about Song Fa Bak Kut Teh:
1. It began in 1969 as a humble push cart with founder Yeo Eng Song selling his own version of Bak Kut Teh along Johor Road. Six years later, he moved to Victoria Street to operate a coffee shop.

2. The name “Song Fa” comes from the founder Yeo Eng Song, while “fa” means prosperity in Chinese.

3. It turns 50 this year. Happy Birthday!

4. The first Song Fa restaurant at New Bridge Road was launched in 2007.

5. The Michelin Guide awarded it the Bib Gourmand distinction in consecutive years of 2016, 2017, and 2018 – the only Bak Kut Teh shop to receive such honours.

6. The business has grown to 10 outlets in Singapore, the two newest at HarbourFront Centre and Jewel Changi Airport.

7. All of their Singapore outlets are designed to reflect the unique feature of the location. For example, the HarbourFront Centre branch has seating booths shaped like cable cars.

8. There is also a pushcart found in every outlet, a replica of the original Mr Yeo used when he first started selling Bak Kut Teh.

9. It has also launched a collection of fun, bespoke merchandise created in collaboration with local design studio Wheniwasfour. One of the cute magnets reads “More Soup Please”, referencing the common request to top up the broth.

10. The collection which includes magnets, keychains, coasters and acrylic pins, are exclusively available at selected Song Fa outlets, including Chinatown Point, Jewel Changi Airport, HarbourFront Centre, The Centrepoint and 11 New Bridge Road.

Aside from pork ribs, they offer other type of pork meats, as well as alternatives for non-pork eaters.

Complement your soups with any of their savoury and fragrant braised dishes, stewed with a variety of aromatic spices. Here are the 10 recommended must-haves at Song Fa Bak Kut Teh:

1. Pork Ribs Soup ($7.60 / $9.80)
This signature dish is a must-try for its soft and tender pork ribs and trademark clear, peppery soup.

The broth is concocted with a blend of garlic and Sarawak peppers which is roasted in-house. You would find the soup alluring in terms of the spices, but not too excessive such that it would mask the sweetness of the pork.

Also, I generally find the soup light enough to have second or even third helpings, without feeling too rich or greasy.

As for the pork used, it comes from the belly side of the rib cage, and has less fats.

You get three chunks of lean pork ribs for each serving of this original Bak Kut Teh, faithful to the recipe of Yeo Eng Song back in the days.

2. Prime Spare Ribs Soup ($9.30)
A variant of the pork ribs soup, this dish comes with prime spare ribs.

What’s the difference between this and the Pork Ribs? Equally fall-off-the-bone tender, the prime spare ribs are meatier.

This type of meat cut also has some fats within making it juicy and succulent. Like the pork ribs, these come from the belly side of the rib cage.

3. Premium Loin Ribs Soup ($13.80)
This upgraded dish uses back ribs, not belly ribs. You get the most meat in a premium loin rib, so meat lovers will delight in this.

It has some fats so expect these ribs to be juicy, but the meat has some body that makes it chewy yet still tender.

4. Pork Tenderloin Soup ($7.40 / $9.60)
Prized for its melt-in-your-mouth tenderness, the pork tenderloin is used in this dish as an alternative.

You still get that soft and juicy slices of pork but without the bones getting in the way.

Those who want a bone-free soup will like this version with perfectly-cooked tenderloin.

5. Sliced Fish Soup ($7.90)
As a lighter option for those who want a substitute to pork meat, the Sliced Fish Soup is recommended.

It is prepared with marinated slices of Snakehead fish, a type of freshwater fish, often used in claypot dishes.

It has a light yet firm flaky white meat with a mild flavour, and no fishy aftertaste. Sometimes I will have this with mee sua.

6. Braised Large Intestine ($8.20)
One braised dish to complement your chosen pork rib soup is the Braised Large Intestine.

These pig intestines are cleaned carefully and cooked for hours until they hit the melt-in-your-mouth level of tenderness. It is hard to resist scooping that dark sauce into your rice.

Or dunk your youtiao (dough fritters) in them. Try it with some Chinese parsley and Song Fa’s home-made chili for maximum flavour.

7. Braised Pig’s Trotter ($7.60)
If you’re not a fan of pork innards, this is something you can consider. You could pull apart the meat with chopsticks!

The deboned pork trotters (pork feet) have a good mix of fatty and lean parts and are stewed in a dark soya sauce with aromatic spices, including the essential star anise.

All that savoury flavour in the sauce make this a good pairing with steamed rice.

8. Homemade Ngoh Hiang ($9.10)
This house-special Ngoh Hiang is made with marinated minced prawn, meat and vegetables, flavoured with a special blend of five spice powder (accordingly, from grandma’s recipe).

The rolls are painstakingly hand-wrapped in bean curd skin then deep-fried in oil. This creates a slightly crispy exterior while the minced interior is still moist and tender.

Dip a slice of this with some sweet Thai chili sauce for a burst of flavours in your mouth.

9. Groundnuts ($1.50 / $2.50 / $3.50)
These groundnuts are prepared with skins intact, and simmered with Song Fa’s own choice and methods of seasoning.

After the right amount of braising, the plump groundnuts become soft without being mushy.

10. Salted Vegetable ($1.60 / $2.60 / $3.60)
This side dish is made of preserved vegetables that are carefully stewed and seasoned to taste. Helps balance the flavours from the sweet, anise flavour of the braised dishes.

Finally, finish your meal and wash those fats away with a hot pot of Kung Fu tea. Here you’ll find a selection of teas exclusively hand packed by heritage tea merchant Pek Sin Choon.

If not, try the King’s Garden Tea with Honey ($1.90).

This house-blend is specially created to complement Song Fa’s Bak Kut Teh. It is a fusion of chrysanthemum flowers, oolong tea leaves and green tea.

Depending on your preference (or the weather), order this tea either hot or chilled. If you like your tea sweet, get the chilled version as it is lightly sweetened with honey.

The perfect finale to refresh and relax your palate after an enjoyable meal.

Song Fa Bak Kut Teh – New Bridge Road
11 New Bridge Road #01-01 Singapore 059383 (Clarke Quay MRT)
Tel: +65 6533 6128
Opening Hours: 9.00am – 9.15pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon

New Outlets

Song Fa Bak Kut Teh – HarbourFront Centre
HarbourFront Centre #02-74/75 Singapore 099253 (Harbourfront MRT)
Tel: +65 6272 8966
Opening Hours: 10.30am – 9.30pm (Mon – Sun)

Song Fa Bak Kut Teh – Jewel Changi Airport
Jewel Changi Airport #B2-278/279/280 Singapore 819666 (Changi Airport MRT)
Tel: +65 6214 9368
Opening Hours: 9:30am – 11pm (Mon – Sun)

Other branches:
Clarke Quay, 17 New Bridge Road #01-01 Singapore 059386
Opening Hours: 11:00am – 10:00pm (Mon – Sun)

Centrepoint #02-29/30 176 Orchard Road Singapore 238843
Opening Hours: 10.30am – 9.30pm (Mon – Sun)

Chinatown Point #01-04, 133 New Bridge Road Singapore 059413
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 9:30pm (Mon – Sun)

UE BizHub East (North Tower Office) 6 Changi Business Park Ave 1 #01-38 Singapore 486017
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 9:15pm (Mon – Sun)

The Seletar Mall, 33 Sengkang West Ave #01-39/40/41
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 9:30pm (Mon – Sun)

JEM, 50 Jurong Gateway Road #B1-09 Singapore 608549
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 9:30pm (Mon – Sun)

Northpoint City, #B1-48 930 Yishun Ave 2 Singapore 769098
Opening Hours: 10.30am – 9.30pm (Mon – Sun)

* This entry is brought to you in partnership with Song Fa Bak Kut Teh.

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