KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 — A Singapore news outlet claimed that ‘bak kut teh’ is a Singaporean dish after it reported that a Japanese man opened a ‘bak kut teh’ restaurant in Tokyo.
Channel News Asia reported that Akihiro Takahashi, 43, was on a business trip to Singapore when he had his first taste of the fragrant Chinese-origin pork rib broth.
“I was fascinated by how delicious it was The taste was impactful,” he was quoted as saying.
“At the start, Bak Kut Teh looks like a very simple dish but in just one mouthful, you can taste pepper, garlic and the juiciness of pork meat. I became so obsessed that I went to try another Bak Kut Teh shop,” he was quoted as saying.
While the actual origin of ‘bak kut teh’ remains unclear, it is believed that the Teochew variant of the dish only reached Singapore in the 1940s.
In Malaysia, the dish, popularly linked to Klang because of the many ‘bak kut teh’ restaurants, was believed to have been brought in from Fujian, China, in the 1930s.
The Hokkien-style ‘bak kut teh’ in Malaysia has a dark, herbal soup, while the Teochew-style variant in Singapore has a clear peppery broth.
Channel News Asia reported that it took Takahashi three years to come close to replicating the ‘bak kut teh’ recipe from Singapore.
“We had more than 300 tasting sessions during the preparation period. From famous shops to the lesser known ones, we ate from morning to night to figure out what taste was more popular and understand the ingredients one by one,” he was quoted as saying.
Takahashi and his co-founder Tomori Susumu opened Singapore Bak Kut Teh on April 10 this year.
According to the report, the restaurant offered two set meals that are priced at ¥980 (RM38) and ¥1,280 (RM49).
To ensure the broth was “healthy”, Takahashi said he refrained from using unhealthy ingredients or flavour enhancers like Monosodium Glutamate (MSG).