I've been to Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh 順發肉骨茶 at MacPherson three times already.
Each time, I leave Soon Huat feeling not just happy that I had enjoyed a delicious meal but also feeling inspired by the people at the humble bak kut teh shop.
Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh 顺发肉骨茶 is founded by ex-convict Jabez with the mission to "provide ex-offenders a new start in life with a meaningful career".
Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh's flagship is located in Simpang Bedok and the only branch, here at MacPherson.
Assistant Manager Sherman, a reformed former gang land street fighter, assists Jabez in managing Soon Huat's MacPherson branch.
James is the Chef-in-charge at Soon Huat BKT's MacPherson branch. Like the other staff at Soon Huat, James is an ex-convict.
James had been to prison a total of 13 times, ranging from 3 months to 3 years at a time for a continuous slew of rioting and drug offences.
Out of prison for the last time, homeless, abandoned and desperate, James grabbed Jabez's extended helping hand.
With no formal training in cooking, James apprenticed under Jabez's tutelage to learn the skill of bak kut teh cooking.
Though James' dad was in the coffee shop business, he had no experience in cooking bak kut teh. James had nothing, except for the sheer determination to make good this second chance in life with Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh.
James picked up the bak kut teh cooking skills so well that Jabez made him the chief chef at the recently opened MacPherson branch.
13 times in and out of prison gates like a revolving door, James spoke with conviction that he has finally turned over a new leaf.
James said that this time at Soon Huat, it is totally different as he is no longer merely "working for the money".
The bowl of bak kut teh is not just something James exchanges for cash, it represents his redemption. The bowl of bak kut teh is a symbol of James finally turning his back on his past. In each bowl of bak kut teh is James' heart and soul in turning over a new leaf.
It's James' long journey towards a better future, one bowl of bak kut teh at a time.
And, somehow I could feel the love that had gone into the broth, even before speaking with James.
It's just a bowl of wholesome delicious bak kut teh, that I can find in no other place in Singapore (except Simpang Bedok, of course :P ).
The round bodied broth has a good balance of mildly savoury and natural sweetness. The pork, tender and juicy was easily stripped from the bone with just a gentle tuck. There was no sign of porkiness, just mild sweetness. The broth and pork were also neither herbal nor peppery, the two common flavours of bak kut teh in Singapore.
It was just Jabez's own flavoursome interpretation after countless trials and taste testings.
This is Soon Huat's top selling signature crunchy fried tow ki (bean curd sheet) bathed in savoury braising sauce. This is one of my favourites too at Soon Huat.
Soon Huat's MacPherson branch serves the same menu items as their main Simpang Bedok branch. Jabez, Sherman and James are fastidious that the standards between the two branches are the same.
I am truly
If you like bak kut teh, give Soon Huat 順發 a try. It's one of my favourites in Singapore, at the moment.
I'll support any chef who put his/her heart and soul into his/her cooking.
Restaurant name: Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh 順發肉骨茶 (MacPherson branch)
Address: 548, MacPherson Road, Singapore
Hours: 11:00am to 10:00pm
Dates visited: 23 May 2014, 1 Aug 2014
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