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Bak Kut Teh popular in SE Asia has presence in Kunming

Updated:2019-08-30 08:41:54   Yunnan Gateway

Bak Kut Teh(Pork Ribs Tea) is a dish popularly served in Malaysia and Singapore, and it was introduced there by Chinese workers around 100 years ago. Now the dish has presence in Kunming.

Having planned for years, Wen Guixin, a Chinese Malaysian who lived in Yunnan for more than a decade, finally set up a business in Kunming: the 23rd branch of Nanyang Shunfa Bak Kut Teh Restaurant.

It is the first overseas branch of the chain restaurant.

Wen once tried hard to overcome the altitude sickness in Yunnan, but now he feels it easy to live here, speaking fluent Kunming dialect.

"I love Yunnan. As a token of China-Malaysia friendship, my little restaurant will surely make my experience in Yunnan more exciting." Wen smiled, narrowing his eyes into a slit. 



It is said that when Chinese workers first reached Nanyang (Southeast Asia), they were not used to local humidity. As a result, many suffered from rheumatism.

One day, a Chinese doctor cooked pork ribs with locally produced pepper, as well as some traditional medicinal ingredients of angelica, codonopsis, cinnamon and others. 

To avoid taboo words, the medicinal soup was named Bak Kut Teh/tea.

So the origin of Bak Kut Teh is quite related to the romance in Southeast Asia.

44 years ago, Wen Guixin and his family began to set up roadside stalls in Malaysia, selling the dish to passers-by. Now his restaurant has over 20 branches in Malaysia.

In December 2018, the Nanyang Shunfa Bak Kut Teh restaurant opened first overseas branch in Kunming.

"It is a perfect match to put together the 44-year secret recipe and the 11 fixed herbal ingredients that have been repeatedly verified. Double boiled, the soup tastes really great.” When it came to his own Bak Kut Teh, Wen Guixin looked proud.



When he first arrived in Yunnan in 2008, Wen Guixin’s family of five had to fight against the altitude sickness, trying to be used to the spicy and oily Yunnan dishes.

Now he feels it easy to speak fluent local dialects of Dehong, Zhaotong and Kunming: "Zha Ge Zheng/How to deal with it", "Ni Ke Na Dian/Where are you going", "Xiang Dang Ban Zha/Quite good"...

For more than a decade, Wen has helped hundreds of his friends see the beauty of Yunnan, while introducing Yunnan dishes to his Malaysian friends.

Noting his living in Yunnan for years, he said that if only one word were allowed in describing Yunnan, it would be "fairyland".

And the sound natural environment in Yunnan is the reason for Wen to settle down.

Also, Yunnan abounds high-quality medicinal herbs and ingredients, so he decided to open the Kunming branch.

While most international businesses kept their eyes on Chinese top cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, Wen Guixin took Yunnan as a new start for his catering business.

Wen Guixin also hopes to make each branch a place of stories.

Stories of the Chinese workers in Southeast Asia are recorded on the menus and screens and in the WeChat articles. Tasting the Bak Kut Teh dish, diners can be easily reminded of their enterprising ancestors.

Decoration of Wen’s restaurant is featured by traditional Malaysian lanterns, fishnet-decorated roof, and carefully painted murals. 

And Wen made the national flags of China and Malaysia most visible in his restaurant.

He said that this year marks the 62nd anniversary of Malaysia's independence and the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Malaysia.

Citing the lasting China-Malaysia friendship from the seven voyages to the Western Ocean by Yunnan native of Zheng He to the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, Wen hoped that peoples the two countries will continue friendly exchanges. 

By Li Hengqiang, Xiong Yan, Li Wenjun and Wang Shixue

Keywords:   Bak Kut Teh SE Asia Kunming