Rong Cheng Bak Kut Teh @ Midview City – Keeping the Bak Kut Teh Tradition Alive
In the early 1900s, most immigrants came to Singapore as hard labours. In order to replenish the energy loss through the labour works, they need cheap and nutritious food. During then, enterprising Chinese saw the opportunity and uses Fujian ingredients together with Chinese herbs and pork ribs to brew into a nutritious soupy dish for these hard labours.
They also began to brew Chinese tea in big kettle for the Chinese labours to drink after their meals. This marked the first page of Singapore Bak Kut Teh history and the unique culture of eating pork ribs and drinking Chinese Tea began to develop steadily.
Rong Cheng has been faithfully serving Singaporeans with piping hot bowls of traditional Teochew Bak Kut Teh (潮州肉骨茶) since 1976. Blk 22 Sin Ming Road is the first outlet started by Uncle Lim, while the one at Midview City is managed by his son, Lionel. Both outlets uses the same ingredients and recipe just that one is a stall in a coffeeshop while the other at Midview City is a standalone restaurant which is more spacious and offers a variety of cze char on top of their popular teochew style bak kut teh.
It is an unwavering effort for Rong Cheng to maintain the quality for Bak Kut Teh. Do you know, they are the FIRST to introduce loin ribs (dragon ribs), also known as 龙骨. Dragon ribs are the 16 largest rib bones in a pig. It’s huge in size and has very interesting textures. One loin ribs can give you a variety of meat textures – from the firmer meat to the fatty side. Lionel shared with us that he has an open kitchen and he will cook the doneness of meat accordingly to the customer. He told us the young generations prefer their meat to be tender and fall of the bone while the older generation likes it tougher with a bite.
They are also the first to come up with Sliced Belly Meat Soup ($7). This is the first in Singapore catering to the young and more health conscious crowd. Lionel has also switched to using natural pork for their bak kut teh. Natural pork has no antobiotics, no medicated feed, no growth hormones and no animal protein by-products.
So what is added into their soup? Nothing fanciful, really. The bak kut teh soup is prepared daily in each individual kitchen in the most traitional teochew way – cooking the fresh pork ribs in water with just garlic and pepper. This clear soup is medium bodied and peppery (but NOT too overboard), and you can taste the sweetness of the meat with garlic. Rong Cheng bak kut teh hits the right spot for me.
Besides the bak kut teh, Rong Cheng also offers some side dishes to go with the delicious bak kut teh. During my visit, I got to try the Salted Vegetable ($1/$2), Braised Beancurd Skin ($1/$3) and the Liver & Kidney Soup ($6). The comforting and hearty sides are perfect to the complete the whole meal.
Superior broth and carefully selected meat make a delectable bowl of goodness, but Bak Kut Teh aficionados know that the meal is incomplete without tea; a key component meant to reduce the greasiness after consuming the meat and to aid in digestion. Respecting tradition, Rong Cheng is one of the few traditional Bak Kut Teh shops left in Singapore which serves our customers with traditional Chinese tea; also known as 功夫茶 (Gongfu Cha). Their tea are from one of the oldest tea merchants in Singapore, Pek Sin Choon.
Pek Sin Choon is one of the few in Singapore which blended their own tea leaves using the traditional style. They distribute quality tea leaves to the Commercial Market including Jasmine, Puer, Oolong, Tie Guanyin. The tea leaves are mainly imported from the provinces in China due to the geographical advantages that China has over other countries as far as tea leaves are concerned. The tea leaves are purchased only after rounds of careful selection. When the tea leaves arrived in Singapore, they are further processed and blended, without any artificial flavouring and colours, to suit the taste of the local people.
What’s the best tea to pair with Bak Kut Teh? Go for the “renowned unknown fragrance” (著名不知香). Such a weird name right? When the founder Bai Jin Ou was naming the tea, he found that he just can’t describe the fragrance in words and thus the renowned unknown fragrance became the rightful name for the tea. Because of its uniqueness in taste, this tea has been unsurpassed in bak kut teh. The tea soup is dark red in colour which is luscious at first sip and produce great aftertaste. Sip a cup of 著名不知香 after a bowl of bak kut teh, you will realise that it brings out a subtle sweet ending to the meal.
If you feel intimidated by the different steps in drinking Gong Fu Cha, Rong Cheng’s staff is more than willing to guide and assist you. Or if gong fu cha is not your cup of tea, they also offer floral tea which has a milder taste and has a floral fragrance, hoping that it will arouse the interest of younger generation.
Rong Cheng Bak Kut Teh definitely is my favourite to go place for a Bak Kut Teh whenever I have a craving. Uncle Lim and Lionel are still very committed to preserve and promote this traditional Singaporean dish well-loved by both locals and foreigners. The outlet at Midview City is spacious and has ample parking lots. With its extended menu offering cooked food and steamed fish, it is ideal for a family meal together or group gathering.
Rong Cheng Bak Kut Teh 榕城(新民路)肉骨茶
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Rong Cheng Bak Kut Teh will be taking part for the very first time in this year Ultimate Hawker Fest 2014. They will be serving a bowl of bak kut teh with you tiao and a pot of tea from Pek Sin Choon. This is a fund raising event for the beneficiaries under the care of Touch Community Services. Let’s do a part for charity while at the same time savour of the best bak kut teh in Singapore. See you there!
Singapore Ultimate Hawker Fest 2014
Venue: SUNTEC Convention Hall 401-402
Date: 22 Nov 2014 (Saturday)
Time: 11am to 5pm