The Place Located at Holland Village, Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh opened its first branch in Singapore just last month, originating from Kota Tinggi, Malaysia. Stepping into the casual restaurant, you will soon see various old school features, depicting the vibes of its original Malaysia branches.
The push-cart outside the restaurant is a tribute to the founding of the chain, back in the old days when the founder sold his Bak Kut Teh on the streets of Kota Tinggi.
The Food Focusing on herbal broth instead of the peppery broth we are familiar with locally in Singapore, Kota Zheng Zong’s take on the herbal broth is less intense and has a sweeter note to it. The signature dish here is their Herbal Claypot (S$12.90 for Small, S$29.90 for Medium, S$53.90 for Large) where you can select the ingredients based on your liking. Options includes the Premium Pork Ribs, Pork Belly, Pork Tail and Pork Leg. You can opt also opt for Spare Pork Ribs instead of the Premium Pork Ribs, if a more tender pork meat is not your priority when enjoying Bak Kut Teh.
I recently went on a hunt of Malaysian-style Herbal broth Bak Kut Teh, and tried both Jia Bin Klang Bak Kut Teh at Rangoon Road and Kee Hiong at Chinatown. While Kota is pricier than the rest, its broth comes through more balanced than the other two. In fact, you can even add alcohol shots to the soup at Kota, starting from just S$0.90 for Hua Tiao Rice Wine. Other options includes Hennessy VSOP (S$3.90) and Martell Cordon Blue (S$10.90). Some of my fellow diners loved the soup with the Hua Tiao addition, though I very much prefer the original broth by itself.
If the Teochew-styled broth is your calling, Kota is all-inclusive and offers a peppery Bak Kut Teh version as well. Done with a fattier pork, the Spanish Iberico In White Pepper Soup (S$15.90 for Small) may be a tad too oily for some, though I find it quite an interesting combination. The soup is not as spicy or peppery as the traditional versions I am accustomed to, hence it is not my favourite option here.
For diners who fancy pig innates, the Triple Mix Organ Soup (S$13.90 Small) with the herbal broth is meant for you. Expect Pig’s Liver, Kidney and Intestines.
The Braised Pig’s Trotter (S$12.90 for Small) was rather satisfying, though I would prefer the stew to be thicker. Having said that, I am impressed with the tenderness of the pig’s leg, which were well-seasoned too. It goes perfectly with rice, despite my futile attempt to reduce crabs intake.
Other sides I do recommend include the Muar Mackerel Otah (S$9.90) and the Chinese Lettuce (S$5.90 Small).
Of course, as always, we cannot have a Bak Kut Teh meal without our favourite Fried You Tiao (S$1.90).
You can skip both the Braised Tau Pok (S$3.90) and Preserved Vegetable (S$2.90). Not that they were bad, but you can reserve your calories for other sides.
Rants We find the pricing here rather steep as compared to other Bak Kut Teh joints.
Will I Return Again? There are not many herbal Bak Kut Teh options in Singapore yet, and that is actually my preferred Bak Kut Teh style. Kota Zheng Zong seeks to bring the authentic take into Singapore, albeit at a slightly high price point.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 3.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 3.5/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
Kota Zheng Zong Bak Kut Teh
15A, Lorong Liput
Monday to Thursday 11am to 330pm, 5pm to 10pm
Friday 11am to 330pm, 5pm to 11pm
Saturday 11am to 11pm
Sunday 11am to 10pm
Ranted by The Rantee