Song Fa Bak Kut Teh @ Seletar Mall, the same old good taste with a different look

Song Fa Bak Kut Teh @ Seletar Mall

Address: 33 Sengkang West Avenue  #01-39/40/41 The Seletar Mall

Opening Hours: Daily 10.30am to 9.30pm

They have other outlets at Chinatown Point , 11 New Bridge Road and UE BizHub East.

Introduction 

Song Ba Bak Kut Teh, has been selling Bak Kut Teh in Singapore since 1969 and is well known for selling one of the best Bak Kut Teh in Singapore. Apart from Song Fa, the usual names that pop up for peppery-style Bak Kut Teh will be Founder and Ya Hua. By writing this review, i think I’m kinda putting on head on the chopping board. Although there are many good reviews about Song Fa, there are also reviews saying this Bak Kut Teh is overrated, too commercialised, too touristy etc.

Song Fa Bak Kut Teh Menu: Click to enlarge

I had been supporting their Clarke Quay branch for the past years and decided to write about them after visiting their newly opened Seletar Mall branch. Even though it’s an air-conditioned environment, the price stated on their menu is net price with no additional service charge and government tax. Some of you might disagree, but personally i feel that Song Fa Bak Kut Teh is moving towards the right direction on the journey to retain our Singapore food culture and it’s worth my time writing, which i will state the reasons in my conclusion.

Pork Spare Rib / Premium Loin Rib ($7.00 / $9.50)

The pork rib comes into two variations, the ordinary spare rib and the premium loin rib. The soup is exactly the same, just that the loin rib cut is leaner and meatier and for that, you need to fork out an additional $2.50. For me, I tend to enjoy the soup more than the meat itself so the spare rib version is good enough for me. I only ordered the loin rib this time because it looks good on photo.

Song Fa Bak Kut Teh has a moderate pepper taste, not overly strong, but just the right amount for me. Like other good bowl of Bak Kut Teh, Song Fa’s broth has three layers of flavour (which some only has two or even only one). At first sip, you will taste the spicy peppery garlicky punch of the soup, followed a surge of smooth, rich and savoury flavours of the pork broth as it fills your palate and finally a sweet aromatic lingering aftertaste after the soup went down your throat that makes you go “ahhh”. This has always been my standard of judging a good bowl of Bak Kut Teh and Song Fa has been keeping up with this standard so far.

For those that are not familiar with such Bak Kut Teh eatery, their soup is refillable and feel free to drink to your heart’s content. I kinda like Song Fa’s service because there are always a few staff walking around in soup-filled kettle and an empty bowl is always quickly refilled with hot and piping soup.

Braised Bean Curd Skin ($3.50)

Apart from the Bak Kut Teh, i will always order their Braised Bean Curd Skin. Song Fa’s bean curd skin is the thinner variation that is soft and yet retains a chewy texture. Some bean curd skin tends to have an overpowering bean taste but Song Fa one is just right, with the right amount of braising flavour.

Dough Fritters (You Tiao) $3.20

Needless to say, the Dough Fritters, or You Tiao is also the must-order. The traditional way to enjoy the You Tiao is to soak them in the pork broth and pop them into your mouth. A rather generous portion (large size) cost $3.20, which is very reasonable for Bak Kut Teh standard which can be comfortably shared by two people. I never leave Song Fa Bak Kut Teh without ordering this bowl of You Tiao.

Braised Pork Belly ($7.00)

After patronising Song Fa for so many years, they finally came out with a new dish – Braised Pork Belly and it cost $7.00. This dish is pretty decent and my serving of pork belly is a rather lean cut but i was actually hoping for a more fatty slab. The braising was skillfully done. The leaner part of pork belly is very tender and the fatty part is melty soft. The braising sauce is very rich and thick which goes perfectly with a bowl of white rice.

Conclusion

Among the Bak Kut Teh big names, Song Fa is currently the first one that spent much effort on the interior design of their new branches, adopts new technology like taking order with an i-pad, ensuring their customers dine in a comfortable air-conditioned environment and yet retaining the same good taste. Not only diners want to dine in an air-con environment, it also provides the staff to work in a more comfortable environment. In fact, i can’t imagine having a bowl of piping hot peppery Bak Kut Teh in a hot and humid afternoon.

Some may say “Wah lau, one Bak Kut Teh cost $9.50? Crazy ar?”. But just imagine nowadays people are willing to pay $7.00 for a cup of coffee because “the place is nice”. It’s time we raise the status of our hawker food and to bring it up to the next level. Think of it that way. If we Singaporeans keep insisting in paying cheap price for hawker food, how will it attract sons and grandsons to inherit the skill and business of our beloved hawker stalls. Passion is one thing, but on the pratical side, the hawker business must also be profitable.

The ugly truth is, to our younger generation, being a boss of a cafe is cool but frying Char Kway Teow in a hawker stall is not as glamorous, and is tough as hell and not as profitable due to the low selling price. For me, I think it’s time to show some love to those so-call “commercialised” hawker food as i boldly say that it’s one way that our hawker food can go, by breaking away from the standard model of hawker food. As for us, paying a little more than coffee shop price is one pactical way to support our local hawker food.

Beo Crescent Hainanese Curry Rice

Beo Crescent Hainanese Curry Rice

Address: 40 Beo Crescent

Operating Hours: Daily: 6:30 till sold out (At about 3 or 4pm). Closed on Wednesday.

Introduction

I had heard people raved about this curry rice that is situated in the neighbourhood of Beo Crescent. You can easily spot this place by looking out for a long queue forming outside a coffee shop. The old school stall has no sign board and everyone calls it the Beo Crescent Curry rice. TheM 67 years old boss opens his stall early in the morning before the sun rises and closes his stall when most of this dishes are sold out at about 3 to 4pm.

Hainanese Pork Chop

Their famous pork chops are on the must-try list of every foodie. Remember to order the Pork Chops separately so that it will not be soaked in the curry sauce. Oh god. This Beo Crescent Curry Rice Pork Chop is indeed crispy! If you prefer your pork chop to be slightly thicker and a little bit more chewy, like Scissors Cut Curry Rice Pork Chops, you may not favour this. But for me, this is what makes their pork chops unique. Beo Crescent Curry Rice pork chop easily found itself into the must-order list for my next visit. I think the secret to the crispiness is the method of preparation. The pork chops were sliced into small and thin slices and coated it with a generous amount of flour mixture and logically, with that amount of flour coating, it should make your pork chops really crispy.

Fried prawn

Basically the marinate and the flour coating taste very similar to the the pork chops and is not difficult to guess the texture too. Yeap. Crispy! Except for the tail, the other parts of the prawn were deshelled which makes it easy for diners to feast on them. The prawn is definitely not overcooked and i can taste the freshness of the prawn.

Braised pork

The pork belly is well braised and the fatty portion comes off easily without much effort, but not to the extend to melt in your mouth. What is a Hainanese Curry Rice without braised pork belly?

Minced Pork Patty

The dish taste rather decent, Ok and probably should be the dish for me if i want to have a healthier meal. The unique thing about the Beo Crescent Curry Rice’s version is the slight difference in texture compared to the ordinary minced meat patty. They minced the meat till it’s really fine that you almost can’t taste the fiber of the meat. Just imagine a giant pork ball but much softer. This dish is a little bit salty for me and I will leave my stomach to try other dishes for my next visit.

Conclusion

Like most of our hawker centres or coffee shop food, apart from cheap and good, it’s still cheap and good! I ordered two plates of rice, one with pork belly and long bean, and the other one with cabbage and fried prawn, and ordered a plate of pork chops and a portion of minced pork patty and it cost me for S$9.50. How good is that?

Despite having 20 people in the queue and waiting for about 20 minutes during lunch time, it was well worth it. This stall was around since 1990 and I heard that the children of the stall owner has no interest to take over the stall so it’s a pity that such a traditional hawker stall will no longer be available in the near future. Be sure to pop by and try it out soon!