This Bak Kut Teh institution on the fringes of the CBD is a branch of Ya Hua at Havelock Road, but unlike the Havelock original, this is completely non-air-conditioned. It's got a bigger space and larger capacity, but it's not the most conducive of environments to be indulging in refillable bowls of piping hot soup, so it's best to hit this place up on overcast, drizzly days.
We opted for the Spare Ribs Soup ($8) over the shorter pork ribs version; it's more satisfying and succulent. There are 2 options for the long ribs: the lean or fatty. My advice is to pick the fatty spare ribs. My mantra, when it comes to food, is to always pick the fatty one. Don't worry, the "fatty option" isn't as fatty as you'd think. It's just the right proportion of fat, and a little fat goes a long way in greasing up the meat. Otherwise, you end up with a dry piece of meat that's tough to get through. The soup isn't the most full-bodied, but I appreciated that the peppery overtones weren't overwhelming.
Lazybums will likely prefer the Sliced Pork Loin Soup ($7), because, the tender pork slices are boneless, so your fingers stay clean.
The Sliced Fish Soup ($7) may be a tad overpriced compared to other fish soup stalls, but at least the fish was fresh and smooth.
Instead of steamed white rice, the Mee Sua Soup ($2), soft and silky strands of flour vermicelli dunked in pork-based soup and garnished with fried shallots and spring onions, was a popular alternative pairing with the pork ribs.
The Braised Peanuts ($3), while pedestrian, were velvety and rich.
Ditto for the Braised Tau Pok ($3), these were fluffy and chewy.
The crunchy Salted Vegetables ($3) provided a bright contrast and cut through the heavy drudgery of the braises and stews.
The Oyster Sauce Chye Sim ($7) the obligatory green fibrous showing of lunch, was enlivened by lashings of golden fried onions.
The wilted and limp Fried Dough Sticks ($2) had evidently been sitting out for some time, but were (somewhat) revived when dunked into the hot soup.
Outram Park Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha
7 Keppel Road
Tanjong Pagar Complex #01-05/07
Tel: 6222 9610 / 8282 7896
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 7am to 3am;
Sundays from 7am to 1am;
Closed on Mondays