Despite enjoying five years in retirement, Uncle Lim Hai Chay (林海星), a pioneer in the Bak Kut Teh industry, has decided to relaunch Rong Cheng with a hawker stall at the coffeeshop at Blk 505 Ang Mo Kio Ave 8 on 20 October 2021. With this relaunch, Uncle Lim hopes to introduce younger generations to Rong Cheng Rou Gu Cha’s soupy goodness and to offer Singaporeans a chance to enjoy this delicious comfort food again. He will be guiding an apprentice in the art of making Bak Kut Teh the Rong Cheng way, with the same recipes and techniques refined over the last 45 years since 1976.
Uncle Lim is a true innovator and is the first to introduce loin ribs or dragon ribs to Bak Kut Teh, which are larger and offer a different texture. The broth is made in the traditional Teochew style of cooking the fresh pork ribs in water with just garlic and pepper. The soup is boiled for 1-2 hours with a special technique that gives the broth its sweet taste and clearness, while still retaining a light peppery kick. The meat is then boiled for 30-45 mins to ensure the meat has a bite, despite it being tender enough to fall off the bone.
Uncle Lim first came to Singapore in 1960 at the age of 16 when he joined the carpentry trade. After several years, he decided to go into the hawker trade and opened Rong Cheng Rou Gu Cha along Sin Ming Road. He loved eating Bak Kut Teh and drinking the Gong Fu Tea that came with it and wanted to make his own. After trying different locations and lots of tinkering and testing, Uncle Lim was able to create his own recipe. He named his stall Rong Cheng Rou Gu Cha after the plaque he saw at the city gates of Swatow where he studied, just before he left for Singapore.
As there are only three main ingredients, it is imperative that only quality ingredients are used to maintain the Rong Cheng standards everybody knows and loves. The pork Rong Cheng Rou Gu Cha uses undergoes a stringent screening to pass quality standards set by Uncle Lim, ensuring that only the best is offered to his customers.
45 years on, diners can enjoy dishes such as the Bak Kut Teh ($6.50), and the Dragon Rib Soup ($9.00). Other mains on the menu include Braised Pig Trotters ($6.50) and Pig Liver Soup and Pig Stomach Soup ($5.50 respectively). Customers can also enjoy sides of Mui Choy, Peanuts, and Tau Kee for $2.00 each, and Dough Sticks (You Tiao) for $1.50.
Uncle Lim says, “I am very excited to be able to reach new audiences and old regulars with the relaunch of Rong Cheng Rou Gu Cha at Ang Mo Kio. We first opened in Sin Ming Road 45 years ago and have built a strong following of old friends. We have seen many generations come and go through the years, with some bringing their girlfriends, then wives, and now children to come and visit. By opening in Ang Mo Kio, we hope to reach these people once again and allow the new generation to enjoy Rong Cheng Rou Gu Cha for themselves.”
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