This post is actually related to the last one, as I went here before hitting Cafe Shirokuma
, and I am glad I did. SONG FA Bak Kut Teh
, probably the most popular bak kut teh brand from Singapore finally opens its very first outlet in Jakarta. Located on the first floor of the new Ozone Mall in Pantai Indah Kapuk, it’s very easy to find as it’s just across PIK Hospital and side by side with the Shell gas station.
In case you don’t know, bak kut teh literally means “meat bone tea”, but is actually a soup combining pork ribs with various herbs and spices. It originates back to the 19th century when Chinese immigrants in Malaya used cheap pork ribs, cooked them with herbs such as star anise, fennel seeds, cloves and coriander to boost their energy. By savoring bak kut teh, many people gain health benefits, so it’s not only delicious but also very healthy.
Despite its name, no tea involved in the dish itself (as teh is Malay word for “tea), but the “teh” here refers to a strong Oolong Chinese tea which is usually served alongside the soup, in purpose to help diluting or dissolving the fat consumed in this pork-laden dish.
While bak kut teh has many variations (especially the color and ingredients of soup), Song Fa is famous for its clear yet rich in taste soup. This Teochew style bak kut teh is usually light in color but uses more pepper and garlic, so as you can probably imagine, it’s very fragrant, peppery and strong. Regular consumption of garlic can control high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even cancer. While pepper is known as a good antioxidant and also have anti carcinogenic effects.
My visit was on a Tuesday noon but didn’t expect that it would be so crowded! It’s amazing sometimes to see how people catch up so fast with new places. Luckily, we got our table right away and didn’t have to be in waiting list. I heard that some people had to wait for at least 40 minutes to get a table during weekdays night and I don’t even want to imagine for the weekends! I can totally understand the crowds though, as this brand is already very popular and I bet every Indonesians who eat pork and have ever been in Singapore, most probably have ever tried this in the original country, so this is very reasonable. Moreover, during my visit, the place was still in Soft Opening days (Grand Opening today, July 2nd, congrats!) so it is very brand new, right!
|Busy, busy kitchen!
|The boxes on the top shelf are Bak Kut Teh Spices that are for sale in the outlets in Singapore. I didn’t know if we can buy them here too, but I for sure want to give it a try!
|Outdoor area, wasn’t functioning yet during my visit, now probably is.
Menu is very similar to Singapore outlets, with selections of pork and the organs, chicken feet, vegetables, and of course the dough fritters a.k.a. char kwai (or simply cakwe). Prices range from IDR 6K – 88K for the food, and the nicest thing is that those dishes are available in few serving portions like small, regular and large.
Pork Ribs Soup (Large) IDR 88K
This is the signature dish and it didn’t take long to be served on our table (bless the fast service!). We were extremely hungry that time but as usual, there is no food until the photo session ends. T__T Luckily this time it was quite fast so I still managed to try this when hot! As expected, the pork ribs were AMAZING!! The meat was soooo soft and tender, easily pulled out from the bone, and as usual, I didn’t even make my hands dirty at all, LOL! The soup was clear and nice, had aromatic and strong taste from garlic and pepper, although it was much lighter than what I remember about the Singapore version. My advice is, be creative with everything they serve on the condiments tray! By adding some drops of soy sauce and prepared chili sauce, I got my favorite taste of soup! 😉
Pork Tenderloin (Regular) IDR 55K
Glad that I had the chance to try this as the pork tenderloin was very nice to begin with! The meat was so soft that it melted right away in the mouth. The soup was very tasty and saltier than the pork ribs soup, but had lighter pepper taste. They are also cut in bites size so it was easy to eat!
Braised Chicken Feet with Bean Curd Skin (Regular) IDR 30K
The chicken feet were like, the biggest chicken feet that I have ever seen in my entire life. @__@ Served with bean curd skin, I actually kinda loved this dish. The bean curd skin was dry, which I like, and very crunchy. The chicken feet were very tasty but texture wise, I didn’t really fancy them. Prefer the slow-cooked ones that are easier to eat, while this one was kept crunchy. The biggest challenge was to be able to eat it and still look like a lady (duh!). *hopeless*
Braised Pig’s Intestine (Large) IDR 45K
Tried this one because the one we wanted: Braised Pig’s Trotter (feet) wasn’t available that time. I (and my family) are always avid fans of organs-related soup, broth, dishes, and whatever else, you name it- and intestines are always the basic ones when it comes to that. Mr. K on the other hand, always refuses to eat such kind of food so again, imperfections balance two of us, perhaps? XD Err, back to this dish, the intestines were nicely cut into edible sizes and served with dark soup. They were very fresh and soft, but to my horror, they tasted bitter. I thought the bitterness probably came from the soup (maybe cooked with some herbs and spices, better yet, some bitter, medicinal ones), but when I tasted the soup, it wasn’t bitter at all. All of us also felt that way so we just wondered what happened to the bitter intestines? However, aside from that, this dish was quite enjoyable, thanks to the strong taste of the soup!
Unfortunately some menu were not available during my visit (even the mee sua) so we all had to stick with white rice (IDR 6K/portion) to accompany our bak kut teh dining experience. But to make up for it, let me tell you that the soups are FREE TO REFILL anytime, as much as you want!! Trust me, their small bowls will definitely never satisfy your needs for the tasty, addicting soup so this service really comes in very handy! Better yet, there seemed to be waiters/waitresses who walked around bringing the refill pot and they would stop by each table offering for refills, how good is that?! 😉
Barley IDR 15K
Barley drink is one of my favorite drinks and was glad to find it here. As you all might have known already, barley drinks are very healthy to consume. Containing natural fibers that help in digestion, lowering cholesterol levels, and prevent gallstone formation. Barley drink is rich in vitamin B and E, and also a huge source of antioxidants that prevent cancer. Not only that, by consuming Barley drinks regularly, we’ll have healthy heart. And best of all, it tastes nice!
Bandung IDR 18K
Ordered this drink because of its name, and it is actually a rose syrup mixed with milk. Personally, I couldn’t get enough of this. The drink tasted and smelled so much like rose (very strong one!) and the milk just made it better. I wished they could make it less sweet, though.
Lemon Tea IDR 15K
In the conclusion, I am not even a bak kut teh’s fan to begin with, so I don’t want to comment much whether this place is recommended or not. Frankly speaking, I think I only have tried 3-4 bak kut teh so far (in different places) and everything is kinda different so I can’t really say this one is the best. I have tried Song Fa in Singapore once, few years ago, so I doubt the validity if I compare this and that one. The thing I remember vaguely was that the one I ate in Singapore had this crazily strong, aromatic, tasty soup that is hard to forget. Because when it was served in front of me, the aroma of garlic and pepper spread around so quickly with the beautiful cloud of steam!! That, I will never forget!
Nevertheless, it’s always nice to see more and more international outlets opening in Jakarta so we don’t need to fly here and there anymore 😉 And I have to write about the excellent service during my visit, it was crowded like hell but staffs were friendly, fast and attentive. I like their efficiency and everyone still managed to respond politely despite being in such fast-pacing environments! *clap clap* Please keep it up and wish Song Fa Jakarta all the success!! And again, congrats for the Grand Opening!!
*All prices are subject to 5% service charge & 10% government tax
SONG FA Bak Kut Teh Jakarta
Ozone Mall 1st Floor #05-05A (across RS PIK, beside Shell Gas Station)
Jl. Pantai Indah Kapuk Utara 3
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 11.30 – 21.30