With all the delicious European food (and disappointing Japanese food) I experienced during my stay in Melbourne, I realised on my last day of my trip that I had still not accomplished one of my original goals I had planned for the trip – to try Bak Kuh Teh in Melbourne.
For a little bit of context the story starts out with my fascination with Bak Kuh Teh. The strong smells of herbs and seasoning, the fresh ingredients, the homely soup all combine to make one feel as though they are well taken care of, it is something I’d like to eat at home but have neither the effort or the time to source and prepare such an epic dish. So it was by chance a friend of mine who had earlier in the year gone down to Melbourne on a working trip,when wandering the streets of Melbourne spotted a rather quaint sign proudly advertising “Bak Kuh Teh". A little bit of research on my part revealed the establishment to be SugarBun on Russell Street. And so I found myself in Melbourne determined to continue my quest of enjoying Bak Kuh Teh. For those who are into a bit of culture and history NanYang is the Chinese characters for “Southern Expanse” a traditional reference to Malaysia.
The decor is clean and simple straight to the point – something easily taken for granted but often overlooked. Water was self service as we noted the place was rather popular with the locals.
For drinks I ordered a Tenom Coffee, unable to resist the urge of a good milk tea my friend ordered a Three Layered Tea. My friend’s three layer tea arrived. Unfortunately for me my friend was over eager to try and mixed the layers before I could snap a photo. Nevertheless you can still see there’s some layers visible. My friend liked the smoothness of the tea, the distinct flavour of the tea was very similar if not the same as a HK styled Milk Tea something my friend enjoyed very much. With my friend busily enjoying the three layered tea, my Tenom Coffee arrived. For me, I found the coffee strong which was provided a good kick from all the walking I was doing that day. Though I like strong coffees, I noted it was overly sweet, perhaps an option to determine how sweet the drink should be would be in order.
Back to the food and as you can see without hesitation I ordered the Classic Bak Kut Teh Soup whilst my friend ordered a side of Broasted Chicken, both of which arrived after a short while.
At long last I was able to sample Melbourne's Bak Kuh Teh! \(^ .^\). As you can see there were plenty of sides to enjoy the dish with, including a side of crispy Chinese doughnut. I was pleasantly surprised at the additional sides and really enjoyed the doughnut which was crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. As for the Bak Kuh Teh it was a very appealing herbal soup complete with pork ribs and belly, special meat balls, tofu and mushrooms. Mixed wholegrain and white rice was provided ensuring we would be very full after the meal. The meats were soft and thankfully not very bony. As you can see the soup had a herbal mix alongside the pork and meatballs. I found the herbal to soup erred on the light side and I would have preferred if it had a stronger herbal fragrance as I had expected from a Bak Kuh Teh. Nevertheless I found the combination of sides, pork and the soup and condiments a very comforting homey dish.
My friend’s side of broasted chicken arrived with a side of sweet chilli sauce. Needless to say he found the broasted chicken delicious, with its crispy skin and tender meats. Being someone who prefers not to use sauce except for very occasional dishes (Hainan Chicken being an exception) he was pleasantly surprised at the how the sweet chilli sauce complimented the chicken. Overall I enjoyed SugarBun’s homey rendition of Bak Kuh Teh very much and felt our timing for it couldn’t have been better.
Price Range: $15 - $25pp