Wednesday, 5 August 2015
Kiang Kee Bak Kut Teh 强记肉骨茶 Johor JK1205
For many Johoreans and not a few Singaporeans, Kiang Kee Bak Kut Teh 强记肉骨茶 needs no introduction. It's would be fair to say that it's one of the most popular bak kut teh places in Johor and Singapore, and to think that it is literally in the middle of nowhere - that makes it all the more amazing.
Credit: Screen grab of Kiang Kee Bak Kut Teh Map
Kiang Kee BKT (GPS: 1.827702, 103.958317) is somewhere near mid way between JB and Mersing on Federal Route 3. Coming from JB, Kiang Kee is on your right, estimated 1 to 1.5 hours of driving. During the drive, some stretches are winding, and lined with either low rise factories/ warehouses or oil palm plantations.
The crowd was huge on the Sunday morning (10:00am) we were there. Customers had to wait and share tables. Fortunately, it was quite cool under the shade of the attap roof. The mood was relaxed and friendly.
Suggestion - split your party into two groups - one group go to hunt for a table, and another smaller group come here and join the queue to place your orders. The menu is on the red colour signboard above.
The boss handpicks the pieces of ribs and pork according to customers' orders.
The final cooking is done on charcoal stoves in the frantic open kitchen.
Somebody's pork belly in brownish colour broth simmering over the charcoal stove.
The preserved vegetables 梅菜 and you char kway were the first to arrive. Out of boredom while waiting for the lead actor (BKT), we dipped the YCK into the preserved vegetables and tried it. It turned out to be very appetising and more than a bit addictive. The preserved vegetables was still slightly crunchy, had the subtle porcine flavour of lard, was not overly salty and was even slightly sweet. It went very well with the YCK while we waited for our BKT which arrived soon afterwards.
When our BKT arrived in the clay pot, the bubbling hot broth and pork ribs were almost completely covered by the crispy fried tofu skin laid on top.
Pushing aside the crispy tofu skin, revealed the large chunks of bak kut 肉骨 (meat and bones) - tender (not soft) lean meat clinging feebly to rib bones. The meat surrenders it's weak grip to gentle tugging with the teeth.
Juicy tender savoury sweet fat and skin - admittedly, not everyone's fancy but I love it :-D
The medium bodied broth was a mild, harmonious balance of sweet and savoury with hints of herbal kum kum type of subtle tartness. Kiang Kee has found the "sweet spot" of herbal bak kut teh broth.
The braised pork trotter was a good side dish with just the right amount of savoury sweetness and those lovely fats and skin.
Pork tripe soup side dish - comforting but not quite enough peppery kick for me.
Hot Chinese black tea is an essential part of the bak kut teh experience.
I want to come back soon on a less busy weekday so that I can slow down and really appreciate all the food here. I heard the pig tails are great here etc.
The kampung style toilet.
One of my favourite bak kut teh places in Malaysia and Singapore.
->> The most famous bak kut teh in Johor which you must try at least once. The windy drive, the anticipation, the queue, anxiety when looking for a seat in a full house, the bubbling hot broth, leading to the climax of delicious bak kut teh, it's all part and parcel of the Kiang Kee experience.
Restaurant name: Kiang Kee Bak Kut Teh 强记肉骨茶
Address: Batu 8, Jalan Mawai, Kota Tinggi, Johor
GPS: 1.827702, 103.958317 / 1°49'39.7"N 103°57'29.9"E
Driving Directions: From JB head towards Ulu Tiram, then towards Kota Tinggi (do not enter Kota Tinggi town), then towards Mersing. Kiang Kee is before Mawai, so if you reached Mawai, you have overshot Kiang Kee.
Hours: 7:30am till 12:00 noon (Closed on Mon and Tues)
Tel: 6019-747-9416 | 607-882-1290
If you are in Singapore and crave Malaysian style herbal bak kut teh, check out Hong Ji in Marsiling/ Woodlands <- click.
Date visited: 2 Aug 2015
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