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One of the things my mum wanted to eat in Kuala Lumpur was bak kut teh, the rather notorious Chinese medicinal broth in which pork, veg and other delicacies are cooked. We'd heard it can be an acquired taste but my brother-in-law found Pao Xiang, a restaurant in the fantastically modern shopping centre Pavilion, opposite our hotel in Bukit Bintang which served a more modern version. For our jet-lagged family, it was perfect. Plus you can't miss it when you go shopping because it says BAH KUT TEH in huge letters.

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The Chinese characters loosely translates bah kut teh as 'meat bone tea'. YUM.

We ordered a selection of different cuts of pork in the thick herbal soup. But before the food arrived, the tea lady arrived with a selection of about six different teas for us to choose from. We decided on puerh to cut through the fat, and chrysanthemum. I think you're only supposed to choose one type of tea per table but they let us have two as we were the only tourists in the restaurant.

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Then the bah kut teh began to arrive one after the other. All were on individual burners to keep the broth bubbling away.

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We had pork leg which reminded me of the Flintstones. The waitress kindly de-boned it for us.

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Spare ribs:

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Char siu and pork shoulder:

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In total we ordered one bah kut teh per adult. The bowls were quite small but enough. We ordered some rice which was cooked in stock and was seriously good, I could have eaten that on its own.

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And some choi sum to be healthy:

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We also got a portion of you tiou (deep fried dough) to dunk into the herbal soup:

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This was the best bit, oil mixed with herb! You put everything into your little bowl and soak it with the soup. So good.

My sister and brother-in-law were tucking into these naughty chillies and urging me to try them saying they enhanced the taste considerably.

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I took one tiny piece, just to test the waters, and my eyes began to stream. They were FIERY.

The wreckage:

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Our experience of bah kut teh was brilliant and this was probably one of my favourite meals in KL. The combination of the herbal soup, which wasn't really all that bitter, mixed with the juicy bits of pork (I recommend the shoulder and leg which were so tender), rice and fried dough was comforting and warming.

PAO XIANG
Pavilion KL, Lot 6.38 Level 6
No. 168, Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
T: 03 2148 6388
Column: Slightly Peckish
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3 comments

  • I LOVE the herbal BKT in KL! Most people I know prefer the pepper version but I like the herbal ones better. Instead of rice, I usually eat my BKT with mee sua (similar to the Japanese somen) and dough fritters.

    Maggie on

  • Maggie: I didn’t know there was a pepper one – must try next time. We did have it with the fried dough which was scrumptious.

    Eri-chan: Very nourishing – cho~ oishikatta yo!

    sakura on

  • my favorite when i used to live in singapore! it is rather healthy and nourishing, i think. lucky you.

    itoeri on

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