Sini Ada Bak Kut Teh 这里有肉骨茶 opened (near Jusco Tebrau) about a month ago and there was already quite a buzz about it on foodie chats online. Sini Ada Bak Kut Teh is a new kid on the block and its style of BKT was different from what people are familiar with in Johor Bahru. With so much talk and different opinions about it, we decided to make a trip to find things out for ourselves.
When we entered the double storey shop, the first thing that struck us was the contemporary, well appointed decor, unlike the familiar kopitiam or bare bones shoplot stalls.
Everything in the restaurant was spic and spank, and the ordering system too uses the latest wireless technology and mobile devices. Still, the atmosphere was cosy and relaxed. The staff in cheery yellow tops greeted every customer in an earnest and cheerful way as they arrive and as they leave.
The bak kut teh was in the soupy Teochew style but it tastes different from the popular old names in JB. It is not surprising then that Johoreans are split between those who welcome this new flavour and others who prefer the old familiar taste. The soup here was thicker than the usual Teochew style BKT and there was very little of the savoury sweetness that JB Teochew BKT is famous for. The taste of herbs was present with a very subtle hint of "kam" flavour - the kind of taste that we get from dried Mandarin orange peel. The "kam" taste lingered in the mouth for a while after eating. Initially, I was was not wowed as I expected the usual savoury sweet taste, but as the meal went on, I found the taste pleasant though different. My companion adjusted to the new taste faster than me and actually enjoyed it more.
The meat was the firmer kind similar to other popular places that serve Teochew style BKT. You have to try it and decide for yourself if you like it or not. Looking at the steady stream of customers around, it appeared that JBrians are slowly accepting this new taste.
The BKT are cooked in small batches throughout the day to ensure that customers are served only freshly cooked meat.
The mixed claypot of braised items like pork, tendons and intestines. We also had a claypot of braised trotters.
The braised items were less controversial as they were quite similar to the familiar local tastes. The braised meat was the tender type (not soft) with the bouncy firm feel. Personally, I liked my braised pork very soft, like tung po rou style.
Flavour wise, the braised items were a blend of sweetness and savouriness. The braising sauce was also heavier than the other usual BKT shops.
I love tendons and this savoury braised tendon was nicely tender and gummy chewy.
Try this small intestines stuffed with.... more small intestines :)) It has a firm, bouncy texture and a slightly bitter flavour which blended well with the sweet and savoury braising sauce.
Braised chicken claws are a must have for me at BKT shops. The braised chicken claws here were competent, and just nice in terms of tenderness and saltiness. (Average braised chicken claws tend to be overly salty but not at Sini Ada BKT.) At my next visit, I shall ask the staff for more braising sauce with my chicken feet as I like my chicken feet to be soaking wet in savoury sauce.
Simple greens stir fried with garlic and soy sauce. Nicely executed, we cleaned up this dish.
This preserved vegetable was sweet and crunchy.
These chunky tau pok did an excellent job of sponging up the braising sauce.
Pricing for reference (small claypot size - the size we had):
Bak kut teh - RM15
Pork ribs only - RM20
Pig tail in bak kut teh soup - RM18
Braised pork belly - RM18
Braised pork trotter - RM12
Braised mixed meat (includes intestines) - RM22
Price wise, Sini Ada BKT is at a slight premium over basic shoplot stall or kopitiam prices. For people who prefer their eating places to be very clean and to have a nicer, more comfortable ambiance, the premium may be worth paying.
Based on what I read in foodie online chats and my own chat with David, the manager here, Sini Ada BKT has been adjusting their servings and arrangements following customer feedback. David said that they have changed some of the serving containers and utensils to enhance efficiency.
In other aspects, David said Sini Ada BKT decided to persist. For example, Sini Ada BKT does not use any synthetic flavourings like MSG, relying solely on boiling stock bones to extract flavours.
If I am in the Mount Austin area, I will drop by Sini Ada BKT again to try their pig's tail in herbal BKT soup which I missed today. If you haven't tried Sini Ada BKT, you may want to check it out for its style of BKT and its ambiance. See for yourself, if you like this.
Restaurant name: Sini Ada Bak Kut Teh 这里有肉骨茶
Address: G01, Jalan Mutiara Emas 9/3, Taman Mount Austin, Johor Bahru (near Jusco Tebrau)
Hours: 7:00am to 9:00pm (Closed on alternate Monday)
Date visited: 25 Jan 2013