you often find this place listed with the founder bak kut teh on a compendium of bak kut teh restaurants in singapore.
bak kut teh is a traditional dish of pork rib soup either cooked up with lots of pepper or herbs, and these two places do the peppery style. but at both, my point in visiting is the darkly-braised pork trotter – and straight up, founder wins that battle.
in itself, bak kut teh is a very strong-tasting soup with (hopefully-not-too-dry) pork ribs. the broth served up here is hot and strongly peppery, but I think a little too salty (though I find more bak kut tehs a little too salted for comfort), and slightly akin to what I boiled up from a packet*, while studying in london.
(*I haven’t yet decided if this is an insult or not.)
I’m more confident talking about the braised trotter, especially given my recent spate of pork-hunting – but it does probably matter a lot on how you like your meat. I prefer it soft and pink (that sort of cooked pink you’d recognise in expert barbecue), tender and flake-able, chewy but not tough, and no fat or sinew or skin (thanks very much, please).
with founder’s, the trotter comes whole with soft gelatinous skin surrounding tender meat; also the way I’ve discovered I prefer. over here though, it’s a chopped up mass of meat and skin and fat – which makes it difficult to sieve through for the lean meat, and the flavor isn’t nearly as deep or as satisfying as the former. I still ate it, but there’s nothing quite like breaking down an entire trotter.
but what’s impressive here is the array of sides you can order with your bowl of rib soup and trotter. it’s more quantity than quality though:
I’m partial to braised peanuts, though I’m no elitist – I can’t tell you if they’re canned or from scratch, but but they do the job.
braised shitake mushrooms were a little less successful, with the taste of woody mushrooms rather overpowering any cover-up the sauce might have tried.
lettuce leaves were exactly just that, wilted in a salty clear sauce and topped with garlic; and the most exotic dish was that of chilled blanched squid that came with a sweet dipping sauce. passable.
the cute thing about this place and its branches, is that it plays up all the nostalgia we associate with eating long passed with the years. shortish wooden chairs, retro-looking tiles, kungfu teapots and cups, and self-dispensing metal containers holding cutlery. it’s possibly the most hipster establishment ever, actually, given that all of this is a facade meant to trick you into thinking you’re back in those years gone by, except with air-conditioning.
the food is passable, but only just. it loses to founder bak kut teh, and both lose to the ang mo kio eng kee (no photos, but I’ll try next time!) – but it’ll work in a pinch for a craving.
Ng Ah Sio Pork Ribs Soup Eating House
208 Rangoon Rd
tel +65 6291 4537
$$: pretty sure you could swing a good meal under 20