BKT & Co @ Telawi, Bangsar

August 3, 2014

Bak kut teh in Bangsar, served in a hipster-baiting setting? Score! BKT & Co, which opened over the weekend, could easily become a major magnet for crowds hankering for a cherished recipe that's long been a rarity in Telawi.

BKT & Co boasts a hidden heritage that makes it a legitimate contender in the herbal-pork-broth stakes: Its thirtysomething chef, Ah Keong, is a third-generation scion of the family that spearheads Ban Lee, the bak kut teh outlet that has thrived for decades beside Dynasty Hotel on Jalan Ipoh. This new brand ropes in the creative talents of the team behind Bangsar Village's Wondermama, the ideal fit for a restaurant that's keen to keep local culinary traditions robust & relevant.

Begin with the basics: A one-person portion of claypot bak kut teh starts at RM16, featuring several slices of meaty ribs, mushrooms & bean curd skin in soup that's pretty light for now, perhaps not as resonant or complex as expected. The kitchen might still be breaking in its new pots & pans, so expect its flavours to evolve in the weeks ahead.

No hesitations though for this mighty fine braised pork belly (RM13), deservedly described as 'yummy' on the menu. Hits the mark for savoury succulence; a sure-fire smash, this might well be the first thing that the restaurant runs out of every evening.

Pepper pork stomach soup (RM14) - a likeable preparation with a pleasant, easy-to-eat mildness - rounds out BKT & Co's compact list of main courses. More dishes will be added later (there will be chicken).

Every bak kut teh outlet serves veggies, though BKT & Co's selection is a bit wider than usual. Crisp pea sprouts with shaved cheese is the signature creation (RM10.80; the combo works well), but customers can also opt for spinach, lady's fingers or broccoli with garlic sauce, minced oyster or belacan. Steamed rice, kway teow, baby yau char gwai (with or without kaya) & tofu with anchovies form the other accompaniments.

Another pleasant surprise: BKT & Co offers a spirited selection of booze, with sweetly fizzy, supremely refreshing cocktails that team up sake with lemonade, limenade or plum (RM13.80) ...

... & agreeable house wine that clocks in at RM18 per glass (RM80 per bottle). Harney & Sons tea is available too (Japanese sencha, dragon pearl jasmine, organic Bangkok & pomegranate oolong, RM5.80 per glass).

BKT & Co seems set to become one of August's big F&B successes; expect to see & hear more about it in the weeks to come.

New Ban Lee by BKT & Co. Est. 1972.
49, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur. Open noon through midnight daily

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