Johor Kaki Travels for Food

Singapore based personal blog of true stories by johorkaki@gmail about best food, people & places around the world

Friday, 10 August 2018

Iberico Pork Bak Kut Teh @ Restoran Kota Zheng Zong in Sentosa Johor Bahru

Friends in JB have been raving about it, since Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh launched their Iberico pork rib BKT last month. Truth be told, I was skeptical as the fad of substituting "normal" pork in traditional Chinese dishes with Iberico pork had been raging for some time. I've tasted Iberico pork char siew in a few places and it didn't work well for me. But, after trying the Iberico pork rib BKT at Kota Zheng Zong, I agree that Spanish pork really took BKT to the next level. The price premium was rather hefty though.

Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh was a runaway success since it opened in Taman Sentosa in JB late last year. The BKT shop has been packing in the crowd since day 1, and the crush still hasn't abated.

JB folks have long been familiar with Kota Tinggi style bak kut teh since it started as a street side stall beside the Shell petrol station in 1980. The humble stall founded by Mr Pang 彭九 was a favourite with lorry drivers and later his fame spread to Johor Bahru and Singapore. Kiang Kee, one of Johor's most famous bak kut teh shops was founded by one of Mr. Pang's son-in-laws. (Senior Mr. Pang who is retired now, has 7 daughters.)

Mr. Pang's son 彭光辉 is a co-owner at Kota Zheng Zong bak kut teh.

Another of Mr. Pang's son-in-laws 吴开镖 is also at Kota Zheng Zong bak kut teh. 吴开镖 used to run his own famous Kota Tinggi bak kut teh stall 老巴剎砂煲肉骨茶 in Kluang (based on Mr. Pang's recipe and methods).

Hi Kluangites, if you wonder where your favourite claypot BKT stall at the Old Pasar went to, the boss Ah Piaw and his claypots are now here in JB at Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh.

Four of us, we had two claypots of Iberico pork ribs. One herbal (dark) and one peppery (clear). We also had pig stomach soup, pig tendon soup and braised pig trotter.

Our main business of the day was to check out the herbal Iberico and peppery Iberico BKT. We waited about 30 minutes for our Iberico BKT to be ready as they had to be cooked from scratch i.e. not pre-cooked. (The Iberico pork was imported frozen from Spain.)

I went first for the clear peppery version as I wanted to try the less heavy flavour one, and then step up to the herbal version later.

The slightly cloudy broth had medium body, perhaps from a little melted collagen from the Iberico pork. The main flavour was sweet - layers of it from the Iberico pork, cabbage and mushrooms. There was a bit of complementary savouriness but the pepperiness was hardly perceivable. We all like this broth, perhaps I like it the most among us.

Oh... I like this Iberico pork. The lean meat had a slight chew to the bite, firm but still tender. The meat had a pleasant natural sweetness. The fats were even better - softer and sweeter. I like the fat so much that I was looking out for the fatter pieces for their sweeter fruity (not porky) taste.

The herbal version has that blend of nearly 20 herbs that made Kota Tinggi bak kut teh famous. With Iberico pork, the herbal broth had slightly more body and was sweeter (naturally). I can also see more grease on the broth but it was the very light and pleasant kind. (Iberico pork oil is heart safe 💗 unsaturated.)

The lean meat had the same firm and tender juicy bite. The Iberico pork's sweetness was complemented by the herbal taste. I like it but not as much as the clear sweet peppery version. My three other buddies preferred the herbal one.

Iberico pork works well with both the clear "peppery" stock and the herbal stock. Both stocks complemented the Iberico pork's sweetness. The lean meat was slightly on the stiff side though still tender - some would describe it as having a good bite. The sweetest part was the fat. So, for me, the fatter the cut, the better. Hope that Kota Zheng Zong bak kut teh could include fatter cuts like pork belly and pork collar in the future.

👉 Go give this Iberico pork BKT by Kota Zheng Zong a try. Two words of caution: Upgrading to Iberico pork comes at a substantial premium. One pax serving of normal pork BKT costs RM15. One pax serving of Iberico pork costs RM38. Caution two: Once you have tasted Iberico pork BKT, it is hard to go back to "normal" pork again. It's like, having tasted Mao Shan Wang durian, you will never look at D24 durian in the same way again.

Restaurant name: Restoran Kota Zheng Zong 哥打正宗肉骨茶 
Address: 177, Jalan Sutera, Taman Sentosa, Johor Bahru (directly opposite SK Sri Tebrau school) 
GPS: 1°29'37.2"N 103°46'30.0"E 
Waze: SK Sri Tebrau (directly opposite) 
Hours: 8:00am to 3:00pm (Monday off)  

Date visited: 20 Mar 2018, 10 Aug 2018

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