Almost but not quite there…

Sometime ago, I got this from my friend in KL

Vegetarian bkt 1

…and the other day, I decided to give it a try.

I was thinking that if bak is meat and kut is bone and this isn’t going to have any of those in it, perhaps they should not call it thus but the English version is fine – vegetarian herbs and spices and incidentally, the A1 brand that we usually will use when we want to cook bak kut teh has been renamed. On the packet, it will just state “herbal soup” or something like that. I wonder why. Perhaps it is because there is neither meat nor bone in the packet and one would have to add one’s own?

Anyway, back to this one that I had on hand, I followed the instructions on the box to the letter…


and put the pouch of herbs into slightly a little over 1 litre of water and boiled that for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, I soaked the vegetarian meat…


…in water for 20 minutes before putting them in the soup. I had expected some of those that they serve at some vegetarian places, made to look like meat, but no, the one in the box was just some pipe/tube-shaped tauhu kee (bean curd sticks).

The instructions mentioned shitake mushrooms but there was none in the box so I just had to add my own. I also added a bulb of garlic as I cannot imagine bak kut teh without that but I did hear once that vegetarians do not take garlic, some probably because of some religious reason but others say it will cause some side effect and leave a lingering odour. I saw in the photo on the box that they had some wolfberries as well so I added a handful of those too…and I also threw in some chopped daun sup (Chinese celery) together with the soy sauce mix provided in a separate sachet along with the herbs.

Well, when it was done, I dished it out and tried…

Vegetarian bkt 2

Yes, it was quite nice though I was not too fond of the “meat”. It had a smell, something like the knotted bean curd sticks which are not my favourite either. I think if I had used the regular tauhu kee, it would be much nicer…and needless to say, old habits die hard – I certainly would prefer to have some meat in it as well.

But we just had it as it was…as an accompaniment/a soup to go with my fried rice that day…

STP's bacon fried rice

…with bits of bacon, thinly sliced mushrooms and French beans and tomato wedges and egg…and one thing’s for sure – you certainly would not see me rushing to the stores in search of another box of that.

But thank you all the same, Pete – it certainly was very nice and thoughtful of you to go through the trouble of sending me that…and I must thank my blogger-friend, Nick, all the way in Sungai Petani, Kedah too. It seemed that he and his family were at Kek Lok Si and he picked up this lovely postcard from there…

Postcard from Nick

…to send to me. Isn’t that so very sweet of him? Thanks, Nick! Yes, I’ve met Pete before and I do hope I can get to meet you in person as well someday. Cheers!

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

26 thoughts on “Almost but not quite there…”

  1. It won’t be called Bak Kut Teh for no reasons LOL, certain things just don’t fit!

    As the English idiom goes, let’s just call a spade…a spade.

  2. lol….it just a very small and simple card, hope you will like it~

    I like bak kut teh also, and because my grandma and some aunties are vegetarian, so i quite often have vegetarian foods and i quite like them 🙂 But of course the meat one will be nicer, i am CARNIVORE!!!!haha :-p

    Ahhhh!!!! You’re my kind of guy. I have not gone to those vegetarian places though a friend did give me a vegetarian burger once to try. Not bad, quite nice…but I’d rather have the real thing or not eat at all. They tell me the food at such places are expensive – that is why I have never bothered to check them out.

    1. really!! vegetarian foods are more expensive than meat sometimes……and those are just tepung and “tao ki”(u know hokkien? fu zuk in Cantonese)

      Precisely. Maybe less demand, not so many people going for the food – have to pay the rent, the workers everything…so must charge more to cover all these overheads.

  3. Vegetarians don’t take garlic? Why that’s new to me and the other vegetarians/vegans that I do know. I love garlic, but never been a fan of meat substitutes, so I avoid them completely. If you look at the ingredients, some of the substitutes are quite unhealthy, so even if I did eat them I’d be sure to avoid the unhealthy versions.

    I saw somewhere that this is mainly for religious reasons but I did not read the details. A friend whose whole family was vegetarian told me once it would upset the stomach and there would be an odour when they sweated – not sure if that was their own experience or she was told that would happened if she ate garlic. I know many things are mere hearsay – you can’t eat this, can’t eat that…this will happen, that will happen and people will religiously follow.

    Yes, I am no fan of those substitutes even if they claim that they’re organic, all natural…and if one wants to be a vegetarian, just do what you all do – eat vegetables and beans. Many vegetables are nice, just boiled lightly and eaten like that, so very sweet. Why the need for substitutes, I can’t understand…especially when they make them to look like meat – and serve in the form of say, a fried chicken drumstick or a burger with a vegetarian beef patty.

    1. I’ve met a few vegetarians that were shocked when they doctor deemed them unhealthy. I don’t see the surprise, in every case that I knew about they followed a standard vegetarian diet which seems common here in the USA, which means a huge dose of veggie junk food. High in the fake meats and other processed products, which in my humble opinion can be just as unhealthy.

      I never understood it either. With a large array of produce, beans and legumes to choose from the fascination with fake meats never made sense to me, especially for those who chose not to eat animals because they think it’s wrong. So… why get the fake meat? I became vegetarian/vegan because the foods, without meat, appeal to me more. I still prepare meat for my noon-veggie friends. I know you can be healthy even if you aren’t vegetarian (although some veggies would like to say you can’t) it’s all about the choices you make. /nods

      Indeed. I don’t know what goes into the making of those…but what is fake or artificial, not natural, would turn me off right away….never mind how tasty it may be like we have those imitation crab sticks easily available at the supermarkets here and even the frozen fish balls and now they have all kinds, even tofu ones. Not for me, thank you.

      On my part, I do believe everything must be in moderation. Meat equate protein and one can get that in beans and stuff…minus some ill effects that meat may have but they may share the same – like how a feast of bean sprouts ended up with a gout attack in my case.

      Other than that, the Chinese believe that some vegetables are cold – and certain people such as those with rheumatism or arthritis should not be eating those…and some will detox so if one is on medication, one should not eat those as they will “wash” it all away and render the medicine useless.

      I do enjoy vegetables lightly boiled with a pinch of salt added. Can enjoy the natural sweetness but must be fresh. Our cauliflower here is imported – not sweet, not fragrant, so bland…I never bother buying and eating that.

    2. I had to look this up a while ago, too, I wasn’t familiar with the no garlic and no onions, thing! Here is what I found…

      Also…I’m not usually a fan of fake meats or vegetarian meats, either, so I totally understand why you didn’t really like the one in this product offering 🙂 Nice job on the dish, tho!!!!

      It did not taste anything like meat…and the actual taste of bean curd sticks would be a whole lot nicer. That was the main or only thing I did not like about that DIY set. Wouldn’t want to buy it if I see it anywhere, that’s for sure.

  4. Oh come on… vegetarian bak kut teh? It is like saying “Authentic kampua mee made with KL pan mee noodles instead”. How does that sound? Give me a break :/

    Wait till you see the vegetarian fried chicken – made to look exactly like the real thing, they say they taste good too but I’ve never tried…and there’s char siew too – I’ve seen that, never tried. Only thing I’ve tried was a vegetarian burger…with a vegetarian beef patty.

  5. I love bak kut teh. But must have real meat and bones in it. Not vegetarian version 🙂

    Me too, but no harm trying. As they say, the best things in life are free…and at least, I’ve tried. The soup’s ok but I think I’d much sooner buy the herbs to cook the soup and then add my own vegetables and bean curd sticks, fried bean curd puffs and so on…instead of the “vegetarian meat”. Would be much nicer, I feel.

  6. I see lotus roots in the packaging picture. I’ve never eaten lotus roots with BKT.. I mean vegetarian BKT.. I’m a meaty person..Usually fatty pork, intestines, mushrooms, the usual stuffs..Hehe not interested in the vegetarian version 🙂

    Lotus root is nice, like bamboo shoots – very sweet but the latter is no good – too cold, “wind” and will cause all kinds of pain like in the joints. They say lotus root is good for women with “heavy flow” that time of the month, dunno how true. First time trying this vegetarian thing, was ok…but I think if I were to cook my own, I would rather use a whole lot of different things, and not the “meat” – should be nice…even without any meat.

  7. Well. It wouldn’t taste good without the real meat and bone.

    I guess it takes a bit of getting used to. I was hanging out with friends who did not eat pork when I was living in Kuching in my early 20s so I also did not eat that for almost a year. When I came back to Sibu, of course, we had pork in the house and I thought the meat had an unpleasant smell and it took quite a while for me to get used to it again. But almost 20 years later, I spent 3 months in the UK – no pork and no beef as there was a Muslim and a Hindu in the same house but when I came back, I was ok with both.

  8. Lovely postcard! I hope to visit Penang someday!

    You’ve never been? Cuti-cuti Malaysia… Go, go! I want to go Trengganu and Kelantan someday…and maybe Johore too. All the other states, I’ve been.

  9. Never try vegeterain BKT and without meat & bone, I would not call it BKT. Frankly speaking, I never buy those packaging to cook my BKT instead I use the Chinese herbs for BKT. Those packaging ones would be in powder form which is quite tasteless. Anyway,the fried rice save my day.

    Powder? No leh? I wonder which brands you’re talking about. Those that I have bought and used, I could see the herbs inside. Would be more convenient to have them all in a pouch – not floating around everywhere.

  10. Such a pretty postcard, and the fried rice looks so good!

    Yes, it was very nice – love the lights…and yes, the rice was nice. Can’t go wrong with bacon…but very expensive here. 😦

  11. ooo, i hadn’t heard of the uncle james brand … i’d have been quite curious about how the result would taste, so i’m glad you tested it and posted your conclusion on it. a bit of extra garlic for me too, maybe diced on the side to accompany the rice and broth! 😀

    Made in Klang, it seems. Yup, can’t imagine it without garlic…and bet it would be much nicer with some more ingredients – like the serving suggestion on the box, if not meat.

  12. Not sure about the BKT, but yr ‘flied lice’ looks yummulicious! Does the tauhu kee smell like chauyu like that ribbon type? Yuk!
    FYI, I’m also one of those species who try to abstain fr meat on Friday!

    Ahhhh!!!! We’re in the same boat. Yup, smells like the ribbon or knotted type, never liked those. Just give me the good ol’ tauhu kee!

  13. I have had vegetarian BKT at a vegetarian restaurant. I was still hungry after the meal 😀

    Hey! I thought I would be the only one. If I had a no-meat dinner…I would be hungry after a couple of hours. Sighhhhh!!!! Conditioning!

  14. I love Bak Kut Teh so much! Your blog post just help to stir that craving for my day…

    It does? I would very much prefer the usual with meat…or use my own herbs and combine my own choices of meat-free ingredients. This one’s at best ok…the soup, but I did not like the vegetarian “meat”.

    Hi!!! Thanks for dropping by and commenting. I see you’re Isaac Tan’s friend – will hop over to your blog to look see. Meanwhile, I’ll link you in my blogroll. Do come again!

  15. Hmm…maybe they’re trying to appeal to vegetarians or Muslims for a larger market share? The herbs itself isn’t haram, it’s what you put inside after all. Thus if you put chicken, it’ll be fine. I’ve seen halal chick-kut-teh here, I should ask what herbs they’re using – packet or their own.

    You’re right the mock meat even LOOKS like bean curd. Haha!

    I’ve never been fond of mock meat except for a particularly good one I had one time – it’s a vegetarian drumstick, fried and tastes like a fried drumstick! I think that one is easier to do since they can add all the flavors for the fried chicken coating and they just need to mimic the texture.

    Yup! That chick-kut-teh is indeed very popular. The hotels would serve that sometimes. Actually, it’s great with beef too – I’ve tried that before. I wouldn’t mind any of those vegetarian stuff if they taste great – some do not, and some, one can taste the soya bean/bean curd in them…so if that is the case, one might as well have it as bean curd. It’s very nice also, no need to make it look like some kind of meat dish…and charge astronomical prices, more for the work than for anything else.

  16. It’s good to try something vegetarian for a change, even chikuteh, but nothing beats the original bak kut teh with real chuncks of pork ribs. 🙂
    Your fried rice very colourful!

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at

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