Kuala Lumpur - Kee Heong Bak Kut Teh @ Taman Eng Ann, Klang
Kee Heong's "bak kut teh" (肉骨茶) - Hokkien-style herbal pork-rib soup - remained my personal favorite after trying almost *every* popular & well-known "bak kut teh" spots in KL and Klang.
*Personal* taste is a keyword when one discusses "bak kut teh" in Klang (the birthplace of "bak kut teh" and which remained the epicentre where literally hundreds of "bak kut teh" restaurants can be found) - where aficionados all have their very personal preferences, and where different restaurants prepare tweaked the dish and served it in slightly different ways to suit their own groups of loyal fans.
Kee Heong's version has large pork hocks stewed for long hours until the pork-skin acquired a translucent, gelatinous quality, and the meat is meltingly tender. The "soup" was more like a sticky, viscous stew, bursting with sweet flavors from the meat, garlic and Kee Heong's own secret blend of Chinese herbs & spices, finished off with dark & light soy-sauces.
Kee Heong's claypot of "bak kut teh" would include various other cuts of pork, pig's innards & organs, shitake mushrooms, tofu puffs and beancurd sheets, and served topped with large lettuce leaves, which one can push into the bubbling cauldron of soup-stew to slightly cook the vegetable.
Kee Heong also offers a new-ish dish that's taking KL and Klang by storm: the "dry" version of "bak kut teh" where, instead of pork in soup, you get pork cooked in the same special blend of herbs and spices, to which dried chillies, cuttlefish and okra were added. The version here was absolutely delicious, and went extremely well with a lard-flavored steamed rice.
Kee Heong Restaurant
Lorong Kasawari 4A
Taman Eng Ann,
Tel: +6012-324 3838
So, have you been converted over to Klang/M'sian BKT, klyeoh? M'sian ones are very herbal, Hokkien-style, and very different from S'pore's Teochew-style pepper & garlic BKT like Ng Ah Sio, Founder, etc which you've also blogged about.
Given a choice, which type of BKT would you choose as your "last meal"?
Malaysia's Hokkien-style "bak kut teh" versus Singapore's Teochew-style "bak kut teh"?
The two dishes are so different that I tend to regard them as two totally different types of hawker fare which I'd go for in equal measure. "Last meal"? I'd go for Hainanese chicken rice than "bak kut teh" :-D
I gather your preferences have changed a bit. Some while back you mentioned that you favored the soupy versions... http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/834479 .
mikey8811 mentioned that Klang BKT tends more to be viscous "stews" while KL BKT is often more "soupy". http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/786324
I presume that is still true?
Yes, huiray, Kee Heong's version is the tastiest I'd had so far. And last weekend, we had a claypot which included mushrooms and beancurd sheets/ "foo chuk".
Mike is right about Klang's "bak kut teh" being more stew-like, as the most popular & famous ones in Klang like Kee Heong and Mo Sang Kor offer the stewy versions. So, Klang Valley folks tend to say Klang versions are thicker and drier than KL versions, which uniformly offer soupy, often with thinner soups and much less herbal flavors as well, compared to Klang ones.
But there are also soupy Klang versions nowadays, e.g. the cluster of competing "bak kut teh" outlets in Batu Tiga Lama (just as one enters Klang town from the KL-Klang highway), Yeoh's Bak Kut Teh (at the Hokkien Huay Kuan building), Pao Xiang at middle-class Berkeley Gardens suburb in Klang, and the famous "Under the Bridge bak kut teh" in the old quarter near the Klang Railway Station. Most of these places (with the exception of Pao Xiang & Under the Bridge) serve their "bak kut teh" bubbling hot in huge claypots. If this trend continues, there'll come a day when Klang will have as many soup versions of "bak kut teh" as their traditionally stewy ones.
Sometimes, how some Chinese hawker fare came about is very interesting. Last night, AEC Chinese cable channel featured Axian's Food Adventures, a Malaysian production where this energetic foodie-host goes all over Malaysia looking into origins of famous food items. Last night's 1-hour episode saw him going to Pontian, Johore, to suss out the origins of the famous Pontian wanton noodles, where chilli sauce or tomato sauce were added, instead of soysauce, lard & oyster sauce as dressing.
What he found out was *amazing* - he actually managed to seek out and interview two different wanton noodle sellers who were the *first* folks to sell wanton noodles in Pontian (the oldest one started in 1938). Both explained that they started selling wanton noodles dressed in soysauce, etc. as in Guangdong (where they were from). Their competing wanton noodle stalls were the most famous in Pontian at the time. Then, bottled supplies of soysauce & oyster sauce became very expensive in the aftermath of World War 2, so the guy who owned the oldest wanton noodle stall switched to canned tomato ketchup and also chilli sauce from Singapore, which were cheaper. Surprisingly, his clients took a liking to the tomato/chilli sauce-flavored wanton noodles, and his rival quickly followed suit to switch to tomato/chilli sauce - all these happened in 1947.
Today, Pontian wanton noodles have become famous for its "unique" tomato/chilli sauce dressing which differentiate it from those in Central and Northern Malaysia. Now, many wanton noodle sellers in Singapore only sell chilli sauce or tomato sauce versions of wanton noodles - obviously influenced by the innovative Pontian guys.
Very interesting! The Pontian tale is informative. I ate noodles - and even just rice - dressed with ketchup and chili sauce sometimes when growing up but had always thought it was a "rough and ready" savory way of doing the saucing that my mother did (and which I therefore also tried) especially when she was feeling light-headed and needed a quick, fast, savory-tangy "kick in the shins" to avoid having to go lie down. In fact, I still do that, with quick-scrambled eggs added in, on rare occasions.
Regarding "stewy" Klang BKT versus "soupy" KL BKT - my recollections were also along those lines, but that was a while ago whereas yours and Mikey's observations are current. Heh, soupydom and stewydom seem to be bleeding into each other more and more, then.