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malaysian mondays #3: bakuteh

September 14, 2009

Instead of continuing with day-to-day coverage of the behemoth that was my eating-in-Malaysia holiday, I’ve decided to cover something a little closer to my heart in this post: bakuteh. We visited two venues in the seven days we spent in Klang – and I’ll bet you can guess which of the two we visited slightly more often…

the bakuteh

bakuteh from Thong Hoe, Southern Park

When I was younger (and when my Ah-kong was healthier) there were only a two non-negotiables in Malaysian life. The first involved a trip in the car to the local stock exchange (where he would talk business while we went shopping), and the second was bakuteh for breakfast.

My Ah-kong is older now, we recently went back to celebrate his 80th birthday, and a little less robust than he was in his younger days. The trips to bakuteh still happen, albeit less frequently – and with weather and health permitting. And the bakuteh itself has undergone a transformation of sorts in the process. The variety boggles the brain and I can’t help but remember that the only constant, really, is change.

Before I kick this off in earnest, I’ve got to give a little love to Shaz (she of the almost-same-name and very similar Malaysian bent) of test with skewer who has started a little Malaysian Mondays roll on her blog. Seems great minds think alike!

A.T. Seafood Bah kut teh

AT Seafood Bak kut teh

AT Seafood Bak kut teh

AT Seafood Bak kut teh is the new kid in town. Owned by the son of a famous bakuteh-eer (is that a word? I don’t think it is), they operate out of an uber-clean, air conditioned double shopfront.

fried dough sticks

fried dough sticks

My favourite part of bakuteh breakfast is dunking chopped up dough sticks into the sweet and salty gravy and letting them fall to pieces before slurping them up.

tea at bakuteh

tea at bakuteh

Tea is essential when eating bakuteh, and not just for the traditional value. The hot tea is said to help to clear the saturated fats from your digestive system by rendering them liquid for the trip to one’s stomach.

It is possibly an old aunty’s tale, but who’s complaining really?

Hot water is poured over teacups to sterilise them. The first batch of tea is also used for washing, before letting the leaves brew a little longer.

dry claypot bakuteh RM10.50/person

dry claypot bakuteh RM10.50/person

My aunty, Si-Chim (fourth brother’s wife), takes charge an orders a bevy of dishes. First up is a dry claypot bakuteh that is rich and caramelised. The meat is fall-apart tender and piping hot from being served in a claypot. My favourite bit? The chewy bits of tendon that lie in amongs the meaty goodness.

claypot bakuteh RM 10.50/person

claypot bakuteh RM 10.50/person

A more traditional dish follows. Bakuteh is served up in a claypot to keep it hot. There are short ribs, gelatinous fatty foot and other assorted bits and bobs in the bowl. From memory, the serves pictured are for four people (ordering was conducted in rapid Hokkien, and I was mostly still asleep)…

sitr fried vegetables RM 7.00

sitr fried vegetables RM 7.00

Stir fried veges break up the meatiness a little and are tasty with a slight bitterness that has an immediate perking up effect on sleepyheads like myself.

AT Claypot fish head RM 25.00

AT Claypot fish head RM 25.00

The fish-kut-teh (as it is dubbed, despite it making no sense when translated to “fish foot teaedit: clearly my Hokkien is fairly rubbish. It actually translates to fish bone tea, which makes huge amounts of sense – unlike myself. Doh! Thanks Em & Billy!) consists of firm chunks of mackerel cooked in a similar manner to the dry bakuteh.

AT seafood bakuteh pot

Finally, a serve of pipis (or “lala” as they are dubbed in Hokkien) arrives at the table. It is very sea-meats-farm as the briney sweetness of the pipis mingles with the intensely meaty and caramel-sweetness of the gravy. I am uncertain about this combination and retreat to soaking the remaining fried dough sticks in whatever gravy I can find.

Hot water is RM 0.50 per person and rice comes in two sizes at RM 1.30 and RM 0.90 for big and small respectively.

Thong Hoe, Southern Park

kedai makanan thong hoe

Thong Hoe is by no means the best bakuteh in town, but it is certainly the most familiar. My Ah-Kong wanders in to recognition by almost all in the little restaurant.

“Newspaper said there are 400 bakuteh restaurants in Klang” he told me in Hokkien as we waited for our food. “Even if we eat a different restaurant every day, we still cannot finish them all!”

scooping the bakuteh

Ah-Hoe himself tends to the bakuteh each and every morning. He has been here for as long as I can remember, and the flavour is a result of years and years of boiling down pork bones, herbs and spices.

the bakuteh boiling away

The large pot of bakuteh is boiled throughout the morning, and as the day wears on, the flavour becomes more rich and concentrated. Large chunks of meat are hoisted out prior to serving and chopped up by Ah-Hoe so they fit into their serving bowls.

washing the teacups

We start by washing the teacups. It is a soothing process. Hot water first, roll the cups and drain the water. Hot water is then poured from the giant kettles that sit around the place into a little clay teapot containing home-brought tea leaves. The first lot of tea, and often the second, is poured over the teacups. Roll, drain, repeat.

the bakuteh

Bowls of bakuteh (this one with “less fat”) arrive at the table. One serve is RM7.00, with rice and hot water for tea charged at RM0.50 each.

The accompanying rice is uniquely flavoured with a bit of butter stirred in just before it is cooked, and deep fried onions sprinkled on the top. It took me a long while to get used to eating bakuteh with chicken rice, as it is often served in Sydney.

The meal is rich and deeply flavoured. It warms me to my toes and I eat and eat until there is nothing but a light smattering of spiced sediment left at the bottom of my bowl.

hot water in a giant kettle

And so we eat. And we eat some more. And each morning, as I lie in bed exhausted from the previous night’s festivities, I half dread the knock on the door that signals a quick get-up-and-get-ready-cos-we’re-going-to-breakfast! and I half anticipate it, because I know that if I miss said call, and end up waking at 10am when all of the decent stores have long run out of stock, I’ll be kicking myself all day.


  • #1
    September 14th, 2009

    i loooove bakuteh! i’ve never tried the rice mixed with butter but oh it sounds good, esp with deep-fried onions on top. and the tea cup washing ceremony seems like so much fun!

  • #2
    September 14th, 2009

    This is the dish my father in law loves. He cooks it every weekend until we get sooo bored :D. I still like it though. Would love to try the real version in Malaysia!

  • #3
    September 14th, 2009

    Waaaah! I want bak-kut-teh now! Guess what? I grew up in Southern Park 🙂 (Our fav bakuteh is the one in Teluk Pulai). And mum always did the tea-sterilising process too he he he.
    (Oh and thanks for the lovin’)

  • #4
    September 14th, 2009

    It’s fish bone tea! Does that make it any better tho..?? hehehehe

    I like it when they put those long bean-curd skin sticks into the bakut teh. Yum!

  • #5
    September 14th, 2009

    Your Malaysian Mondays make me so homesick! Can you believe I didn’t have any bah kuh teh when I went back last time? I love it but I was told to wait til we went to Singapore…and then we never went to Singapore! The rice with butter sounds so much better than having it with chicken rice!

  • #6
    September 14th, 2009

    I love love love Baktukeh! Too bad there isn’t a good bakuteh in Sydney.

  • #7
    September 14th, 2009

    love bakuteh, i was so wanted to get my friend to drive me all the way to Klang for some real good ones. Fish-kut-teh, won’t that be translated to as “fish bone tea”?

  • #8
    September 14th, 2009

    Mmm I want some of the dry claypot one and hee hee hee at fish foot tea hee hee hee

  • #9
    September 14th, 2009

    baaahhh I miss klang bakuteh T_T

  • #10
    September 15th, 2009

    I remember having bakuteh in singapore about 2 months ago. What a revelation it was! Absolutely delicious. I was taken to a local place (which i forgot the name) at 2 am after a night on the town and it was the best meal ever. Makes me want to explore Malaysia even more now.

  • #11
    February 4th, 2010

    […] You can read all about it here. […]

  • #12
    Tatiana
    March 3rd, 2014

    Oh my gosh T^T You make me so hungry and Im in the middle of school hours! Im so homesick right now!

  • #13
    May 7th, 2014

    Aiya, lost to 温馨小屋 today!I thought Klang ppl won’t cook “bah kut teh” at home but then with those 加料 you had in there, I think yours will taste much beettr than the one found in restaurant around town. Hmmm…maybe I should ask my wife to cook “bah kut teh” this weekend…Btw, 1st show is awesome!

Shez