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The man who put Teh in bak kut teh


Lee’s stall was moved into a nearby shop named Kedai Makanan Teck Teh about 50 years ago.

Lee’s stall was moved into a nearby shop named Kedai Makanan Teck Teh about 50 years ago.

VISIT any well-known bak kut teh outlet in Klang, and it’s likely to be run by a Lee.

This is because a man named Lee Boon Teh brought bak kut teh to Klang from Fujian, China in the 40s.

He had seven sons who had branched out to set up their own businesses, some of which are now being run by third generation Lees.

Lee set up his bak kut teh stall at an intersection between the Klang train station and the Klang South police station in 1945 to serve the early Chinese immigrants, many of whom had also come from Fujian.

The stall was moved into a nearby shop named Kedai Makanan Teck Teh about 50 years ago and is currently operated by one of his grandsons who has stayed true to the original recipe.

“I have not changed anything and have kept to the same spices and methods of cooking used by my grandfather,’’ said the reserved man, who wanted to be known as only Lee.

The original shop where bak kut teh started, called Kedai Makanan Teck Teh at Jalan Stesen 1, Klang. The old signboard over the entrance is still there.
The old signboard over the entrance is still there.

The shop is dilapidated and run down but it gets a steady flow of regular patrons from early morning until closing time at about 2pm.

Lee, who runs the business alone, said he is not keen on publicity because he worries he would not be able to manage if there were many new customers to his shop.

“My children are all graduates and not involved in the business. They have their own careers,’’ said the 58-year-old.

Although the dish, traditionally comprising various cuts of pork, slowly simmered in fragrant Chinese herbs, has been modified in many ways all over the nation as well as in Singapore over the years, it is only in Klang that you can get the real deal.

At Kedai Makanan Teck Teh, chunks of meat in herbal broth are served in porcelain bowls with a helping of plain white rice just as the founder had served the hardworking Chinese immigrants who came to build new lives in the then Malaya decades ago.

Bak kut teh enthusiast Lee Kew Peng whose family is also in the business, said when the dish was first brought to Klang from China, it was known merely as bak kut (pork bone).

“Since it was brought in by Lee Boon Teh, it was known as bak kut teh, meaning it was his dish.

“Over time, the Teh became part of the dish’s name,” said Kew Peng.

Kedai Makanan Teck Teh is located at Jalan Stesen 1, Klang.

merdeka , bak kut teh , National Day 2016

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