The bak kut teh at Outram Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha Restaurant | Photo: Julia Khoo
An accident in 1987 put Frankie Gwee in a 10-day coma and left him disfigured, blind in the right eye, with a broken spine and going through operations over three years. In a bid to help and as an act of love, sisters Gwee Peck Hua and Gwee Guek Hwa pooled together their resources and expertise to set up a bak kut teh shop in Outram Park in 2001. Frankie is now 50, Peck Hua is 60 and Guek Hwa is in her 50s. They have 12 other siblings.
Frankie Gwee (R) and sister Gwee Guek Hwa at their bak kut teh shop | Photo: Julia Khoo
Making bak kut teh wasn’t a stab in the dark: the two sisters had worked in a bak kut teh shop in River Valley Road for more than 10 years.
The cloudy broth of the Teochew style pork rib soup (from $7) is a mixture of pork bones, pork ribs, pepper, garlic, soy sauce. It is boiled for at least five hours. The sisters tell us that the key is to use the best and freshest ingredients. No sugar or sugarcane is used to sweeten the broth – the sweetness of the soup comes from the marrow in the pork bones.
Robust without being overly peppery, the soup is wonderfully complex and well-balanced with great depth. The meat is tender but retains some bite. The side dishes (from $2) are also well-executed.
These days, Frankie and Guek Hwa man the Keppel Road branch (Frankie takes the evening shift, while Guek Hwa opens shop in the morning), while Peck Hua oversee the operations at the Havelock Road branch.
Other dishes include stewed kiam chye (salted mustard leaves) and braised peanuts. Outram Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha also has a variety of pig offal, braised pork trotter, and even fresh sliced fish soup for those who do not want any pork dishes. There's enough love to go around here.
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Outram Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha Restaurant is one of Singapore's 12 hawker heroes who could be pitted against celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay in SingTel's Hawker Heroes challenge. Vote for themhere.
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Write a review | Address: 7 Keppel Road, #01-05/07 PSA Tanjong Pagar Complex | Tel: 62229610 | Opening hours: Tue-Sun 7am- 3pm, 6pm-4am
Food writer Julia Khoo has been a regular contributor to inSing.com since its launch in 2009. Her obsession for writing and photographing all things epicurean is lovingly documented in her long-running food blog, AromaCookery, making her one of the most established food bloggers in Singapore.