Mention Bak Kut Teh, Founder at Balestier Road is one that initiated this PinkyPiggu into the Teochew-style pork rib soup's joy of sweating-inducing peppery shiokness many years back and holds much fond memories. Need a quick supper? Let's go Founder Bak Kut Teh!
When I was told that the recent opening (21st Jan 2016) at Hotel Boss along Jalan Sultan is their 2nd outlet, I was puzzled.
"Huh you mean the branch at Rangoon Road isn't legit?"
Let me share some history of Founder Bak Kut Teh first.
Long long time ago, there was a pig farmer named Mr Chua Chwee Whatt who loved eating bak kut teh but the existing versions did not meet his expectations. So, he decided to make his own, using pork from his farm and concocting his own recipe using herbs and spices.
In 1978, Mr Chua opened a small bak kut teh eatery and named it Founder, as he founded and invented the recipes himself. By 1988, he had transitioned from farmer to restaurateur with the growing success of Founder Bak Kut Teh.
Celebrities including Jay Chou, S.H.E. and Stefanie Sun are all patrons of his restaurant.
The flagship store at Balestier is headed by Mr Chua himself, and he also personally oversees the bak kut teh preparation at Hotel Boss' outlet which is managed by his son. Rangoon Road branch is opened by his daughter, who runs it as a separate entity.
Same same, but different.
Founder Bak Kut Teh at Hotel Boss uses only superior cuts of Meaty Long Ribs, Premium Short Ribs and a delectable mix of both in its signature dish ($7.80 to $11.80 per portion).
Pig's Stomach Soup ($7.80), Pig's Liver Soup ($7.80), Mixed Organ Soup ($8.80) are also available.
To accompany the meal, there are the usual side dishes such as Pig's Trotter ($9.80/$12.80), Braised Pig's Intestine ($8.80/$11.80), Braised Beancurd Skin aka Tau Kee ($3.80/$5.80), Braised Peanuts ($3.80/$5.80), Salted Vegetables ($3.80/$5.80) and Dough Fritters aka You Tiao ($2.50).
I was bracing myself for that bout of sharp yet pleasurable spiciness of pepper, but what my tongue tasted upon the first sip was rather tame. The broth could also be more flavorsome and less salty.
Apparently, "they" feed-backed that the initial version was "too peppery", so the soup was muted down to suit milder tastebuds. I wonder who are "they". The younger generation? Or tourists who aren't accustomed to the type of fieriness which fans of Founders (like me) has come to expect.
To be fair, it wasn't all that bad. Though the bak kut teh soup and "could-be-softer" tau kee was a tad salty (BFF downed 2 bowls of rice cos of it), the pork ribs itself were fresh and has a pleasantly firm bite. Those who find ribs too troublesome to eat can go for the Slice Lean Meat Soup ($7.80) instead. The pig trotter was wonderfully executed and kept us reaching for more of its tender meat and lovely gelatinous skin.
Founder Bak Kut Teh at Hotel Boss is only in its 2-weeks opening infancy stage when we visited. They might need a bit more time to settle down, and hopefully mature quickly into that familiar intense peppery taste that has us spellbound throughout all these years.
I wouldn't mind going back in the near future to give it another try.
And don't forget the Teh (tea) of Bak Kut Teh. The recommended pairing with this pork ribs soup dish would be "不知香" or "Unknown Fragrance", a premium blend of Wuyi Oolong and Anxi tea supplied by Pek Sin Choon, one of the oldest tea merchant in Singapore.
This was specially created to accentuate the bak kut teh eating experience. Definitely a classic!
(Read: Pek Sin Choon 白新春茶庄 ~ One of The Oldest Tea Merchant In Singapore + YouTube Video)
Founder Bak Kut Teh
Address: 347 Balestier Road, Singapore 32977
Contact: +65 6352 6192
Opening Hours: Daily (except Tue) 12pm-2.30pm & 6pm-2am
Address: 500 Jalan Sultan, #01-09, Singapore 199020
Contact: +65 6816 2582
Opening Hours: Daily 11am-5am
Address: Puri Indah Mall 2nd Floor, Unit #240, Jakarta Barat 11610
Contact: +62 21 582 2580
Opening Hours: Daily 10am-10pm
Prices stated are in Singapore dollars and subject to 10% service charge and 7% GST.