Famous Johor Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh Opens in Singapore!
I often have a long curated list of food places to visit when I visit Johor Bahru (JB), and Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh is one of them.
The good news is, Singaporeans will get to have a taste of it without having to travel to Johor because Kota Zheng Zong has opened at Holland Village.
While waiting for Singapore’s outlet to open, we decided to drive to JB just to have a taste of it. Kota Zheng Zong is a popular family-run restaurant specializing in claypot herbal bak kut teh since 1980. The owner, Mr Pang Kow, started selling bak kut teh from a roadside pushcart in Kampung Kelantan. He later handed his business over to his son, Mr. Pang Kong Pee, who partnered with local Johorean Dato’ Lai Sing Yai to open the eatery in JB in 2018.
Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh currently has two outlets in JB – Taman Nusa Bestari and Taman Sentosa. Many Singaporeans who are looking for a bak kut teh fix will head to one of the outlets, which explains the steady flow of regular patrons from early morning. At about 12pm, the place was packed with people.
Bak kut teh was created for Chinese labourers in the early 20th century but it has become a beloved dish for many Chinese businessmen. “I eat bak kut teh. Every week. Sometimes twice a week,” Dato’ Lai announced proudly. He and his friends meet for bak kut teh and spend hours doing pretty much what he was doing at that moment – eating, drinking tea, talking business, welcoming friends and pausing now and then to chat on cell phones.
The second generation Mr Pang is very particular about using only fresh and quality ingredients. He still follows his father’s special recipe and cooking techniques to provide the authentic taste of bak kut teh. Here at Kota Zheng Zong, different chunks of meat are first cooked in a herbal broth over charcoal fire, before they are heated up again upon every order.
We simply couldn’t wait for the hot, bubbling pot of meaty pork ribs. Boiled for at least an hour and a half with 18 Chinese herbs, the signature Claypot Bak Kut Teh (RM14 per pax) comes with beancurd sheets and spring onions. Customers can choose from various types of meat such as pork ribs, pork belly, pork tail or pork trotter.
I love my bak kut teh dark, concentrated and strong. The soup was dark and flavourful, and the taste of herbs was not overpowering. There is just something about this bak kut teh that clears my sinuses and jolts me out of my zombie state.
You can amp up your bak kut teh with premium Spanish Iberico pork (RM 38). Note that it requires 40 minutes to cook. We also ordered the Three Mix Pot (RM12) consisting of pig’s kidneys, liver and intestines. If you want extra flavour, you can request to add a drizzle of Hua Diao wine or Martell cognac to your claypot.
The White Pepper Pig’s Stomach Soup (RM12) is another top seller at Kota Zheng Zong. The white pepper is specially imported from Sarawak and boiled in-house for at least 2 hours with local fresh pig’s stomach. The pig stomach was boiled to the right tenderness. The clear and delicately sweet broth had a distinct peppery flavour which added more depth. It had given me a case of warm soup belly.
Bak kut teh is best enjoyed with a medley of sides that includes salty preserved vegetables, fried dough fritters, Braised Pork Trotter and Otah. Prepared according to a traditional recipe, the pork trotter promises fresh trotters that have been braised for at least 2 hours. Just look at that chewy collagen-rich pig’s skin! We also had a plate of Otah made from Spanish Mackerel Fish.
Kota Zheng Zong has opened its first Singapore outlet at Holland Village. It’s going to be air-conditioned so you can enjoy their herbal bak kut teh in comfort. I am excited about it and hopefully I will get a chance to try the premium Iberico Bak Kut Teh.
Imagine having a piping hot bowl of bak kut teh on a rainy day. So comforting.
Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh Singapore
Address: 15A Lor Liput, Singapore 277730
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm daily
Restoran Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh
Address: 177, Jalan Sutera, Taman Sentosa, 80150 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Phone: +60 7-333 5588
Opening Hours: 8am – 5pm daily, closed on Mondays