亞華 Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh (Ngee Ann City): Big fat nope
I’m a small fan of bak kut teh. It is one of those things I started appreciating after I grew up. While I cannot claim to be a bkt expert, I do have experience eating the undeniably top few bkt in Singapore: Ng Ah Sio, Founder’s, Song Fa, and Ya Hua.
On the other hand, the wifey is mostly anti-anything-pork. She cannot stand the taste of pork, but she makes a concession for me when it comes to bkt. In a case of you-never-know-until-you-tried-it, we found that she can enjoy the bkt broth; she just does not like the pork ribs themselves.
Last weekend, we found ourselves in Ngee Ann City with no plans for lunch. We visited the SJ50 Matsuri in the morning and was famished by noon. We came across the newly opened branch of Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh while walking around in the basement, and decided to try it as the wifey never had the chance to eat at either the Havelock or Tanjong Pagar outlets.
What we had
We ordered the normal Bak Kut Teh. The soup was too blend, and lacked any semblance of pepper in it. The meat was too dry and there was not a single piece of rib bone given, which was quite a sham. Even the wifey commented that the soup was not good. This is a far cry from the ones I had before at the Tanjong Pagar branch. In the end, we still downed the soup, but it definitely dragged down the Ya Hua name.
The Braised Intestines. If the soup was just ok, this took the standard way below par. The braise was non-existent and tasted like straight soy sauce. I cannot recommend anyone to eat this.
The Fried Prawn Roll. It was fried just right to give it a crispy skin, and the filling was ok. This was one of the saving-graces of the meal, the other being the you tiao.
The food was just one aspect in a meal filled with disappointment. Most bkt lovers will have heard of Pek Sin Choon and their 不知香, which goes very well with bkt. Unfortunately, it was not available for ordering, even though you can see a picture of the 不知香 packet under Chinese Tea in the menu. This was quite anti-climatic for me.
We ordered a couple of other drinks as 不知香 was not available. In the end, these drinks only arrived when we were almost done with the meal (and only after we asked for our drinks twice). The table beside us had the same issue with their drinks coming only after they asked the waiter for it. The wifey said this was quite ridiculous, and I was inclined to agree.
Overall, the meal was a big let-down. These may be teething issues for the 2-week-old outlet, but it will be a long, long while before I consider visiting them again. My recommendation is to stick to the older outlets.
Address: #B2-32 Ngee Ann City, Singapore 238872
Access: 5-minute walk from Orchard MRT station
Website: Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh
PS: the older-is-better branch at Tanjong Pagar:
Outram Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha Restaurant
Address: #01-05/07 PSA Tanjong Pagar Complex, Singapore 089053