Having lived in Balestier for nearly my whole life, I’m proud to say that I pretty much know it like the back of my hand! The district is famous for a number of things – from lighting stores and budget hotels, to tau sar piah as well as our much-loved durians – if I were just to name a few. However, mention ‘Balestier Road’ to any food lover and you can safely bet on it that bak kut teh will be the first thing that comes to mind.
Balestier Road must be the motherland of bak kut teh, because there are at least 6 or 7 stores along the same stretch of road! But perhaps the most well-known of the lot is Founder Bak Kut Teh Restaurant located right under New Orchid Hotel. With a perpetual snaking queue outside their shop at night, I would think that there must be something about them that keeps these hungry folks coming back for more. Lucky for us, when we arrived around 2pm on a Friday, there was no queue!
Ironically, Founder Bak Kut Teh Restaurant is the only bak kut teh joint along Balestier Road that I’ve yet to patronize. The restaurant offers mostly air-conditioned indoor seating, with only a few tables of outdoor accomodation.
All the walls are literally plastered with photos of famous Singaporean, Taiwanese and HK stars that have visited this restaurant. Some of the newer pictures were pasted over the older ones, simply because there is hardly any empty space left! We noticed how the founder of this shop is featured in every photo (meaning that he has to be around at all times in case a celebrity decides to pop by, right?), so we looked around and alas – he was sitting at the back of the shop! Hehe.
The peppery Bak Kut Teh(S$6) soup was sweet and flavorful without leaving you to feel as if you had an MSG overdose. However, the pork was rather tough, not as tender as I hoped for it to be. Perhaps we should have specified for the famous large loin ribs instead. Overall, not enough to knock our socks off.
The Tau Kee(S$3) was alright, with the beancurd skin soaking up the dark soy sauce gravy. Nothing extraordinary here though.
Strangely enough, we enjoyed the Pig Trotters(S$7) the most. The meat had a ton of flavor, and was fall-off-the-bone tender. Our only dislike is that the ratio of fats to lean meat wasn’t quite right, with the pork being too fatty. Other than that, pour some of the dark gravy over your rice and you’re good to go!
Despite the hype, we weren’t blown away by Founder Bak Kut Teh Restaurant. Overall the food was pretty alright, and if I’m lucky enough to stop by when there isn’t a crowd, I will be sure to try their large loin ribs. Otherwise, this isn’t a place I would go to satisfy my bak kut teh cravings. If you do happen to eat here though, keep a lookout for famous celebrities! You never know when they might pop by. 😉
FOUNDER BAK KUT TEH RESTAURANT
347 Balestier Road (Under New Orchid Hotel)
Open daily except Tuesday
Lunch: 12 noon – 2pm
Dinner/Supper: 6pm – 2.30am
Cuisine: Bak Kut Teh (peppery, Teochew style)
Average price per pax: S$10 – S$14
Recommendations: Bak Kut Teh soup and Pig Trotters