[Johor Bahru, Malaysia] Other than shopping and massage, one of the reasons why Singaporeans head up north to JB is for Bak Kut Teh, as Malaysian-style BKT often presents a different and more rustic style.
One of the popular Bak Kut Teh eateries is Restoran Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh, sometimes known as “Sentosa Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh” due to its location at Taman Sentosa.
People head there because it specialises in “Kota Bak Kut Teh” of deep-coloured flavourful broth with complex herbal flavour, and Johor Bahru is a much ‘nearer’ location that Kota Tinggi. (Well, the good news is it will soon come to Singapore.)
The brand was started by a Mr Pang who was known for selling his herbal claypot pork rib soup by the road side on a tricycle push cart; and his son took over the business and retained the same-old special recipe.
The must-get is the signature Claypot Bak Kut Teh (RM14 per pax), and customers can choose preferred ingredients of pork ribs, pork belly, pork tail or pork leg.
The house-brewed soup base is boiled for an hour and a half with a blend of 18 Chinese herbs and different pork parts.
Before serving, the combination would be cooked over flaming charcoals, then topped with mushrooms and dried beancurd sheets.
If you are used to the Singapore Teochew style of BKT, this is nothing quite like it.
Arriving sizzling hot in a claypot, the first thing you would notice is that it is bountiful of ingredients as the crispy beancurd skin and chopped spring onions act as a blanket over.
‘Open’ it up and take a sip of the rich, brownish-coloured soup. There is a lot going on in terms of its flavours, and surprisingly it is delicately herbal but not overly intense.
The pork ribs which looked thoroughly braised, were tender and almost fall-off-the-bones.
Tip: don’t over-soak the beancurd skin and have it while it has semi-absorbed some of the broth.
If you would like a bit of indulgence for your Bak Kut Teh, get the Iberico Pork version (RM38), but that would require 40 minutes of preparation.
Or a Three Mix Pot (RM12) consisting of pig’s kidneys, liver and intestines.
An option would be to add in Martell or Hua Diao wine for a deep, aromatic flavour.
However, if you are a first timer, I would recommend having the classic or get two pots to compare the difference.
If your preference is for Teochew style Bak Kut Teh, you will be glad that they also offer White Pepper Pig’s Maw Soup (RM12) and White Pepper Lettuce with Pig Offal such as kidneys, liver or intestines (starting with RM12).
These are cooked using special white pepper imported from Sarawak.
This broth comes clear, delicately-sweet and peppery but has a lighter level of pepperiness when compared to the usual ones we are familiar with in Singapore.
(I hope that the Singapore outlet will offer the Pork Ribs version with this soup as an option.)
Its side dishes such as Fried You Tiao, Preserved Vegetables, Braised Peanuts, Lettuce, and Enoki Mushroom Soup are worthy of mention as well.
The Braised Dry Beancurd aka Tau Pok (RM3.50 per bowl) had a smooth texture that reminded me of a softer “Tau Kwa”.
As for the Otah (RM13), the thick slab cut into four pieces contain chunky pieces of Spanish Mackerel Fish.
If Johor Bahru still seem too far away, Restoran Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh has opened its first overseas outlet right in Singapore at Holland Village.
Ah, Claypot Bak Kut Teh during the cooler nights will be so shiok.
Restoran Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh – JB
177, Jalan Sutera, Taman Sentosa, 80150 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening Hours: 8am – 4pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
Google Maps – Restoran Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh
Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh Singapore – Holland Village
15A Lorong Liput, Singapore 277742
Opening Hours: 11am – 3:30pm, 5pm – 10pm (Mon – Fri) 11am – 11pm (Sat), 11am – 10pm (Sun)
* This entry is brought to you in partnership with Restoran Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh.