They were also the first to have used the dragon bone, or long gu. Since then, almost every notable Teochew bak kut teh is also selling this dragon bone.
A few years back, Uncle Lim's son, Lionel decided to start another outlet and hence, Rong Cheng Bak Kut Teh at Midview City came about.
It is a far larger establishment, almost akin to a full restaurant seating capacity. It serves bak kut teh from morning till night, and also serves zhe char dishes to cater to a wider array of diners. But some things will never change, and that is their classic bak kut teh.
The dragon bone bak kut teh still comes with their traditional Teochew peppery soup. The broth was concocted using only the pork bones, garlic and pepper. Seasoned with just salt, it was naturally sweet from the pork bones, and had that familiar spicy kick from the pepper. With enough salt to give it the necessary savouriness, this is the classic Teochew bak kut teh broth that we have come to love.
The dragon bone is cooked more tender than the stall at Uncle Lim's and this is down to the fact that Lionel prefers to have it done this way. He believes that the younger generation prefers more tender meat, and as such he is catering to this segment of the audience more in his outlet.
Eaten best by hand, the meat literally fell apart from the bone without much of a fight. That one strip of fat encased within the more meaty portions was the prized feature of this dragon bone. Full of pork fat goodness, it was as indulgent as you could get. And spectacularly good too.
|Sliced Pork Soup|
Lionel is also the first to introduce this new variant of bak kut teh, that uses fresh, natural pork slices to go with their classic pork broth. The pork slices were thinly cut, and is almost akin to eating it shabu shabu style.
The broth used was less savoury, but still naturally sweet and mixed with some vegetables, this presents a more healthier option and is definitely one for the ladies. It is also easier to eat as there is no fiddling with bones etc.
|Ter Ka, Braised Pig Trotters|
The classic braised trotters were also pretty good and familiar. Dark looking, and full of collagen laden pig skin, it had a nice tender texture to the meat and when infused with the tasty soya sauce that had been braised for some time, it had that warm, comforting flavour that goes well with Chinese tea.
Teochew bak kut teh needs to pair with chinese tea, and coming to Rong Cheng, it is evident that Lionel pays a lot of attention to this aspect. All his tea sets are elegant and functional at the same time, and serves tea from Pek Sin Choon.
You can practice your gongfu cha or kung fu tea skills here. Mainly, it is just a process of washing the cups and pots, and making the tea in a manner that has become common among bak kut teh goers. Having the tea to go along with the richness of the pork ribs does make a lot of sense.
It helps to wash down the fats of the meats, whilst at the same time it also cleanses the palate and leaves you with a very refreshing aftertaste.
In addition, Lionel also serves up flower tea as an alternative to the slightly bitter tones of traditional bak kut teh gongfu cha. The flower tea has a very easy to drink flavour, and is extremely fragrant and refreshing.
|Miss Tam Chiak and Lionel Lim|
It is also inspiring to see Lionel coming back to continue his family business and legacy. As Uncle Lim is getting on in age, Lionel sees this as an important facet in wanting to preserve his family's brand name in this food industry.
Despite the ongoing difficulties in maintaining a food business in Singapore, I can clearly see his determination in wanting to continue in this line. Lionel serves as a wonderful inspiration for our Singapore food heritage. For a business that has prospered and thrived for decades, his willingness to pursue something that is not easy serves as a beacon for the next generation for food makers of Singapore.
As such, I am so grateful that he has agreed to participate in this year's Ultimate Hawker Fest 2014 and his efforts to contribute to charity.
For more on the hawker fest and what Rong Cheng will be doing, please visit https://www.ultimatehawkerfest.sg or call 6377 0122. The coupons can be purchased at the website as well.
Rong Cheng Bak Kut Teh Midview City
26 Sin Ming Lane
Here's a video featuring an interview with Lionel Lim and featuring Miss Tam Chiak.
Video shot and edited entirely on the iPhone 5S.
Featuring Miss Tam Chiak.
All music, direction, editing and videography by Ian Low.
No pigs were harmed during the making of this video.