With its lucky name, Heng Heng Bak Kut Teh seems like an obvious place to have a CNY lunch. It also serves a variety of fish in addition to pork ribs. “年年有魚” comes to mind. If a Heng Heng 年年有余 lunch is not considered auspicious, we don’t know what does.
Eating fish during the local Chinese New Year festivities is usually considered auspicious as “年年有魚” has the same pronunciation as “年年有余” – i.e. a bountiful year. And so when we decided to have bak kut teh in the Balestier area, Heng Heng BKT came to mind as it is known for not just pork ribs but also the range of steamed fish served at the Owen Road BKT restaurant. This location is an area with a few famous BKT restaurants. Within close proximity along Rangoon Road are big names like Ng Ah Sio and Legendary Bak Kut Teh.
Steamed Fish and Bak Kut Teh
Steamed fish dishes are available at some bak kut teh restaurants. Perhaps the common factor is the Teochew folks’ fondness of BKT and steamed fish. A good place for that is Hua Xing Bak Kut Teh 華兴肉骨茶 at Yuhua Place Food Centre in Jurong East. At Heng Heng BKT, the process is the same. Outside the regular bak kut teh menu, there is a chiller where fresh fish is stored. Sea bass, pomfret, red snapper, grouper and thread fin fish were some of the options available, ready to be picked and steamed. We picked the red grouper head ($38). It was quite a large head, sliced into half longitudinally.
Heng Heng Bak Kut Teh
We had a basic order of Chinese tea, bak kut teh, stewed peanuts, rice and you tiao. The BKT served at Heng Heng was mild in flavour. Soup was slightly dark in colour but not really herbal in taste. Neither was it very peppery. We had a standard order of pork ribs which arrived with two small pieces. We thought that they were not very exceptional in size or quality.
The steamed red grouper was more enjoyable than the pork ribs. The cooking was spot on, resulting in a tender, pure white meat, ready for the picking. But bearing in mind that this fish head had been sliced into half down the length, this was merely one quarter of a fish. It was just about enough for two persons.
In addition to freshly steamed fish, Heng Heng BKT also serves pre-cooked fish. Such cold fish dishes are common at Teochew porridge places. On the day of our visit, there were some rabbit fish available. Such fish known as 白肚鱼 (“peh toh her” in Teochew – literally white bellied fish) are very popular during Chinese New Year and are therefore sometimes referred to as 拜年鱼.
Pek toh her is said to be at their best during the CNY festive season which is their spawning period. At their peak, they taste sweet and have lots of roe which is a delicacy for some. They are also very expensive. The fishes caught for our lunch were obviously not at their peak. These small fishes were thin and tasted slightly fishy.
One of them had a small amount of roe, which was a bonus. Although small, these fishes are easy to eat as the bone structure is rigid and obvious. Eating them with the Teochew bean sauce (tau chior) conceals most of the fishy taste.
Price of Our BKT Lunch
The total price of our Heng Heng Bak Kut Teh auspicious lunch was $70. For a BKT place, the restaurant is clean and organised. It can be a good place to bring a foreign visitor to experience Singapore bak kut teh. It could even be a suitable place for a date as the service is also polite and prompt. After lunch, one can adjourn to one of the trendy cafes in the area, such as SYIP cafe, which was what we did. It is a minute walk down the road.
Overall Rating: 3 TOPs
Heng Heng Bak Kut Teh
107 Owen Road
Opening Hours: 7.30 am to 2.30 pm
Closed On Tuesdays
CNY Closed from 17 to 24 Jan 2023
Nearby MRT Station: Farrer Park
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