I went to Penang the other day and wanted to taste its famous Char Kueh Teow, Laksa, Kueh Teow Th’ng, etc. Instead I was feted with a sumptuous dinner of Bak Kut Teh in Butterworth at Jalan Raja Uda. Penang has never been famous for the Bak Kut Teh dish. After the dinner my perception about where you can find the best Bak Kut Teh might have been shaken a little bit.

What is Bak Kut Teh?

Bak Kut Teh (Chinese: 肉骨茶; bah-kut-tê) is a Chinese delicacy popularly served in Malaysia, Singapore, China, Taiwan and cities of neighbouring countries like Batam of Indonesia and Hat Yai of Thailand. The name literally translates as “meat bone tea”, and, at its simplest, consists of meaty pork ribs simmered in a complex broth of herbs and spices for hours.

In Malaysia, Bak Kut Teh is usually eaten with rice and often served with youtiao (strips of fried dough) for dipping into the soup. Soy sauce (usually light soy sauce, but dark soy sauce is also offered sometimes) is preferred as a condiment, with which chopped chilli padi and minced garlic is taken together.

Over the years, various kinds of cooking style have emerged in different geographical areas to suit the local culture and habit of their people.

Coming back to the title of this blog:

Where to find the best Bak Kut Teh in Malaysia?

Origins of Bak Kut Teh

Before we answer the question, let’s trace the origins of Bak Kut Teh. According to Wikipedia, there are two versions:

  1. the first secret recipe was invented by a gentleman from Fujian province in China and later commercialized a his friend in Klang, Selangor, Malaysia
  2. Singaporeans believe that it was born around the Clarke Quay area in the 1800’s

There is a third version of the origins of Bak Kut Teh, of which I shall quote from the website here:

“Bak Kut Teh is truly a Malaysian dish, which is originated from Klang Selangor. Singapore is hijacking from Malaysia and claim theirs.

I gonna write its naming origin.

The inventor of Bak Kut Teh is named Lee Boon Teh (李文地), a medical sinsei from Klang at about 70 years ago. In the old time, Chinese traditional traders are called with his/her trade name in front of their second name.  For example, Tan Ah Yong, a pork seller is called Pork Yong.

Lee Boon Teh, a part-time pork rib soup trader was conveniently called Bak Kut (肉骨) Teh and also a pot of Chinese hot tea is served after the dish. Klang folks are mostly Hokkien descendants, Bak Kut Teh (肉骨地) is in same pronunciaton with Bak Kut Tea (肉骨茶).

Therefore Bak Kut Teh is mistaken as Bak Kut Tea even if tea is not an ingredient of the dish.

The third generation of Lee is still running a Bak Kut Teh shop in Klang.”

Klang and Bak Kut Teh

The royal town of Klang in the state of Selangor is best known for its Bak Kut Teh to the extent that you would find one or two coffee shops selling this delicacy at almost every road or street in Klang (where there are Chinese). I am not sure of the number of Bak Kut Teh sellers in Klang and but the number of stalls definitely is over hundreds!

Some Klang residents eat Bak Kut Teh for breakfast, lunch or dinner and some even eat it everyday! Thus you can see how popular the dish is in Klang.

Bak Kut Teh dinner in Butterworth

The Bak Kut Teh dinner I had in  Jalan Raja Uda, Butterworth is actually not too bad. I must say that the taste is very very similar to what you would normally get in Klang. Here are the pictures I took at the restaurant:


The above photo is the actual dishes we ordered for four persons. Below are photos from their menu.



My two cents

The shop I went is actually a modern Bak Kut Teh specialty shop with nice interior decoration and there is a nicely Photoshop-ed full colour menu for you to order. (I think it is a kind of franchise shop.) You may notice the bowls containing the meat soup are special and come with supporting bowls as well. The kettle used to boil the water for tea making is stainless steel and the cooking stove is “smokeless” infra-red type.

If you ask me again where you can find the best Bak Kut Teh in Malaysia, my answer is you have to get it from Klang. There are many varieties and cooking styles sold in Klang. The taste is original and authentic, Klang style and Malaysian way!

Which stall, please? This I would blog it some other time. Stay tuned and follow my blog.

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2 Comments on Where to find the best Bak Kut Teh in Malaysia?

  1. Angeline says:

    Is the BKT restaurant near the Chung Ling High School? From the picture taken, it looks like the one there tho I never eaten that BKT restaurant before. lol.

    My family and I prefer the BKT stall at the famous long food stall in Chai Leng Park. Maybe you should try that stall when you visit Penang again. 🙂

  2. TehTarikKaki says:

    No I don’t think it is so near to CLHS in Butterworth. I think it is near the OldTown Kopitiam area. (Sorry I am not too familiar the area! 😉 The one in Chai Leng park: can try next time!

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