HOLLAND VILLAGE FOOD GUIDE: KOTA ZHENG ZONG BAK KUT TEH
Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh (哥打正宗肉骨茶) is the new kid on the block in Holland Village.
Hailed from Johor, this is the first Singapore outlet by the famous bak kut teh eatery. Though I frequented JB and had tried several bak kut teh there, such as Shoon Huat Bak Kut Teh (顺发肉骨茶), Ah Soon Bak Kut Teh @ JB (亚顺肉骨茶) and Soon Soon Heng Bak Kut Teh (顺顺兴肉骨茶), I have yet to try this.
Mr Pang Kow started Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh way back in 1980 in Kota Tinggi. Later, his son Pang Kong Pee took over the helm.
What is so special about their bak kut teh is their family recipe of 18 different herbs to brew the soup. They only use fresh and quality ingredients.
Bak Kut Teh has a rich cultural heritage, tracing back to the early immigrants from China. It is a popular dish both in Malaysia and Singapore with differing style.
The Hokkien style is prevalent in Malaysia, whereas the Teochew variant is more common in Singapore. The Hokkien uses a variety of herbs and soy sauce to create a more fragrant and darker soup. The Teochew style, which is light in colour, uses mainly pepper and garlic in the soup.
My personal preference is the herbal-based to the pepper-dominant broth. I find the aroma of the herbal soup ‘intoxicating’ whereas the peppery soup too overpowering. Besides, I love the ingredients of Malaysian style bak kut teh such as mushrooms and fried bean curd skin. They also like to add pork belly, pork tail, pork trotters, pig’s livers, kidney and intestines.
In my personal experience of tasting bak kut teh in Malaysia and Singapore, generally, I find Singapore generally uses more quality long ribs.
Iberico pork comes from the distinctive Black Iberian Pig which is native to parts of Portugal and Spain.
These pigs feed on acorns and elements of the natural forests in these areas to give the meat a nutty and evocative flavour.
They also have a higher fat content than other pigs to provide it with a delightful tenderness.
I ordered the premium rib which came with a price tag of $12.90. I added button mushrooms and dried bean curd skin at an additional $1 each. My buddy ordered the pork belly soup for $10.90. We shared a side order of you tiao for $1.90.
For $3 more, you can get to enjoy the Iberico pork ribs. To give it a little alcoholic kick, you can opt for Hua Tiao rice wine, Hennessy VSOP, Martell Cordon Bleu.
Other ala carte side dishes include Muar mackerel otah ($9.90), preserved vegetable ($2.90), tau pok ($3.90), kai lan ($6.90/$9.90) and lettuce ($5.90/$8.90).
Not surprisingly the prices are slightly on the higher side, considering the relatively high rental of Holland Village.
My first reaction to the broth was delightful. However, it lacked the strong aroma of bak kut teh in Klang that I miss so much. While the soup was very tasty and had a strong herbal taste to it, it was a little salty to my liking.
The portion was quite generous with five pieces of mid-size premium ribs. They were not as tender as I had expected, even though they did have a certain amount of fats. The ribs didn’t have the nearly fall-off-the-bone kind of tenderness.
Maybe next time I should try the Iberico ribs.
Address: 15A Lorong Liput, Singapore 277730
My overall verdict is 3.75/5
Danny Han is a licensed property agent since 2005.
As a kampong (village) boy growing up in Holland Village, he has so many fond memories. He grew up with pigsty (yuk!), cemetery, swamp and communal-living (with 10 families under one roof). His childhood games were gasing (spinning top), marbles, kites, spider-fighting and tree-climbing. An open-air cinema was his source of entertainment. 7th-month Hungry Ghost wayang (Chinese opera) and getai (concert) was a once-a-year event that brought the entire village together.
What Danny is passionate about is not just about showing clients properties around Holland Village, but also enjoys sharing anecdotes and nuggets of information that are part of his growing up years.
Danny is an avid hiker and passionate foodie. He has covered most of the nature trails in Singapore, including some that are off the beaten track. Living up to his motto, “walk to eat,” he enjoys going out with his wife, a retired academician, on a food hunt across the island. He also has some foodie kakis who mix work with food. They then share their gastronomic experiences through food blogs. So do watch out, because every time he shows you a property, he will tell you what is the best food nearby!