107 Owen Road
Tel: 6292 4913
Operating hours: 7.30 am to 9 am and 11.30 am to 2.30 pm
FOR the past 13 years, Heng Heng Bak Kut Teh, a weather-beaten corner kopi tiam in the vicinity of Little India, has been a favoured destination for well-heeled businessmen, ordinary workers and knowledgeable food types in search a little pork rib soup breakfast boost.
The steady procession of what owner Serene Goh refers to as high-low customers continues until after lunch. Meanwhile, a first-timer sneaking a glance at neighbouring tables will notice that only a few items are on order – Teochew-style steamed fish head, cooked fish that is served at room temperature, and clay pot bak kut teh, along with assorted accompanying dishes.
The soup’s the thing with bak kut teh, and the flavour found at Heng Heng differs from the herbal-tasting or peppery stock found at some other places. According to Goh, whose husband does the cooking, the soup, which is clear, slightly spicy and clean-tasting, is made with more than 10 different herbs and spices, with the ‘special’ ingredient being a sprinkling of chilli padi.
A normal portion of pork ribs costs $6, but if you feel inclined to try the posh version, ask for it to be served with abalone. A few slices of canned abalone – $55 for half a can, double for the whole thing – will give your meal a touch of culinary class and also leave a slight dent in your wallet.
In the heat of the early afternoon, treating yourself to a bowl of steaming hot soup may not be the best idea. The waves of heat coming from the large metal soup pots in the kitchen won’t help, either, but somehow, that doesn’t seem to deter the clientele.