Of all the styles of bak kut teh, I least prefer the herbal style. I find the "medicinal" and lingering kam kam 橙橙 aftertaste of some herbal bak kut teh, a big turn off. So, I've never recommended any herbal bak kut teh wholeheartedly, until now.
After hearing so many people suggest I go taste the "Marsiling herbal bak kut teh", I finally gave Hong Ji Claypot Bak Kut Teh 宏记药材肉骨茶 a try today.
I was skeptical about Hong Ji 宏记 or any herbal bak kut teh after eating herbal BKT ad nauseam in Kuala Lumpur (as my former colleagues loved it).
wow! Hong Ji changed my mind about herbal bak kut teh 药材肉骨茶, once and for all.
Hong Ji's bak kut teh broth comes in a claypot steaming and bubbling hot bubbles as they do in Malaysia.
Hong Ji managed to create a perfectly balanced blend of sweet, mildly herbal and savoury in a smooth, full bodied broth. The broth was not greasy and there was none of that kam kam 橙橙 dried orange peel aftertaste which I disliked.
Hong Ji's founder Ah Lim, adopted a Kuala Lumpur recipe and tweaked it, balancing the usually dominant herbal flavour with more sweetness and savouriness.
Hong Ji's balance was spot on for me.
There were 5, maybe 6 large meaty chunks of tender, succulent, naturally sweet pork ribs in the SGD6, 1 pax serving with rice included.
Hong Ji serves the delicious herbal broth free flow, and I put their generosity to the friendly test :-P
Hong Ji passed with flying colours :-D They actually filled my empty claypot to 3/4 full!
And, I honoured their commitment by drinking the broth to the last drop (which was easy as the herbal broth was so tasty).
On my second visit (the next day), I ordered a mixed claypot to try. My tip? Stick to the staple pork rib version. In the mixed version, the pork liver was rubbery and fibrous as it was sliced too thin, making it easy to overcook in the bubbling hot broth. The strips of pork stomach was more or less tasteless.
I have to highlight this simple chili dip. Hong Ji uses fresh hot chili padi which felt like fiery fire crackers in the mouth. They also use a good quality sweet savoury blend of syrupy soy sauce. This simple dip enhanced my enjoyment of Hong Ji's bak kut teh by at least a notch.
This stall at Marsiling Blk 19 is Hong Ji's parent stall - from here Hong Ji have expanded island wide with 6 branches run by the founder Ah Lim's son, daughter and relatives:
- Geylang Lor 21A
- Ang Mo Kio Blk 6006
- Ang Mo Kio Blk 107
- Sin Min Blk 22
- Hougang Blk 435A
- 910 Upper Thomson Road.
Not sure how they compare as I have only tried Hong Ji in Marsiling.
Singapore's far north has one of the island's best, best bak kut teh :D
oh, by the way, Hong Ji's bak kut teh does not come with teh (Chinese tea).
Restaurant name: Hong Ji Claypot Bak Kut Teh 宏记药材肉骨茶
Address: Marsiling Lane, Blk 19 #01-329, Singapore
Hours: 7:30am to 9:30pm
Date visited: 12 Oct 2014, 13 Oct 2014
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