Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bak Kut Teh: Blissful Cafe, welcome to the dark side

several occassions

Bak Kut Teh, literally pork bone soup, was originally concocted to satisfy the energy and protein demands of coolies. As a result, the meal is rich and satisfying. BKT in Singapore is a favourite for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We see many stores selling BKT, but only few are good enough to make it to this blog.

Two broad schools of thought prevail amongst the aficionados. One with a clear(ish) soup, full of pepper as typified by Ah Hua. And the other is the Klang school, characterised by a thick, herbal soup, sometimes black in appearance. The dark side of BKT.

I love both with a vengence...and alternate between Ah Hua and Blissful. Between the light side and the dark side. It is my destiny, I cannot resist it.

Blissful Cafe serves one of my favourite dark BKT. Interestingly named, this is a traditional store, tucked away in Sultan Gate...a typically Malay enclave, offering many Middle Eastern food outlets, and the enticing Sabar Menanti at Kandarhar Street.

Blissful belongs to the dark side of the force, and offers two distinct types of Klang style BKT.

First the herbal version:

The dark, brooding soup, chock full of herbs bursts into flavours in the mouth. Cabbage, mushrooms adorn the BKT, and the meat of the pork ribs are super tender, fall of the bone, dissolve in the mouth type.

The other, less common version is the black Klang style...

The dark sauce, not soup, smothers the pork ribs. The ribs are so tender, that they have mostly disintegrated from the bone in the pot, and ready to melt in your mouth. The garnish of sliced, dried cuttlefish (jew her) is added. The pork really makes my day. Succulent, flavoursome. Rich. Did I say tender? Yes, very tender. Blissful!


The braised pork leg is also excellent:

Served on the bone, the trotter is carefully braised in herbs and spices till it too literally falls off the bone and melts in the mouth. These are not mere cliches, but truisms. As many readers know, I have a soft spot for a well braised leg of pork. This version is one of my favourites, along with the PuDong Kitchen's version and one from Zhou's Kitchen (blog soon).

The meat, the skin, the collagen all combine to make the ter kar (pork leg) special. Imbued with the braising sauce, the meat is ultra tender, and very flavoursome.

This is a hearty meal. To be eaten with plain steamed jasmine rice. It wakes up the ancient primordial instincts - much like a good slab of steak is bound to do.

Blissful Cafe
29 – 31 Sultan Gate
Tel: 6298 8538
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