Under The Bridge Klang Bak Kut Teh History
Bak Kut Teh (BKT) enthusiasts of the Klang Valley have probably heard of Seng Huat BKT, or better known as BKT “Under The Bridge”.
For those who haven’t, it’s a BKT heritage business located under a flyover near the Klang River, earning them their nickname.
Although there is a dispute between the people of KL and Klang over the size of their BKT, their brand is still quite well known to Malaysians.
A simple Google search for “Klang Bak Kut Teh” shows their name at the top of the list with the second highest number of Google reviews after Teluk Pulai BKT.
Started by a chiropractor from China
Today, the company has been around for over 40 years since its inception in 1979, but there was more to the story behind the family recipe.
Seng Huat is in his third generation of operations to date, and it all started with the current owner’s grandfather, Lee Boon Teh.
He was a practicing chiropractor who emigrated from China before World War II and made a living selling local kuih and providing chiropractic treatment to raise 12 children.
Due to his familiarity with herbal remedies, he set out to create his own recipe for BKT, a cuisine believed to strengthen and improve his health.
“He ended up selling BKT because of his popularity with his (chiropractic) clients, and this all happened before 1942,” current owner Lee Chuan Teck told Vulcan Post.
When Boon Teh ran this business, only his oldest and fourth son helped him. So when the time came for him to retire, Boon Teh passed the recipe on to them both, but the two sons ran their own BKT business separately.
Seng Huat was created by the fourth son, Lee Han Sen, who then passed it on to his only son, Lee Chuan Teck, who we spoke to.
Customers now want a trendy BKT
Although BKT is a traditional recipe, there have been all kinds of BKT trends that have popped up over the years like stir-fried dried BKT, seafood BKT etc. which is one of the main challenges. facing Seng Huat.
“Before, customers used to only eat meat every day, but now people want BKT with you tiao, tau pokand vegetables, ”explained Chuan Teck.
Additionally, BKT in clay pots is the modern way of serving the meal, as it was originally served in small bowls.
“We also had a flask on each table to serve hot water boiled with burning charcoal at the time, which we have now replaced with induction cookers,” he added.
The biggest change they made, however, was to add stir-fry dried BKT to their menu, which is only served in their Genting branch at this time.
Loyal fans who have visited 40 years in a row
Over the years, their main clients have been local families in the area as well as middle-aged men.
“Our reputation started to grow first among the locals of Klang, then more customers visited our restaurant who said they were from KL, Penang, Ipoh and even from East Malaysia or tourists from other countries” , said Chuan Teck.
Among these customers are long-time customers who have had their BKT for breakfast almost every day for the past 40 years.
Non-Klang natives usually came to the restaurant from the Klang KTM station, as it is only a 2-minute walk away.
Expansion has never been a priority despite their popularity
“Expansion was never the first thing we thought about, as we have focused on the quality of our food for all these years,” explained Chuan Teck why they have only grown now.
Recently, they opened their first branch in Genting, which Chuan Teck acknowledged to his family for making it possible.
“My wife and kids were able to take over and ensure the quality of the original shop in Klang, which gave us more time to explore more expanding opportunities.”
Over the years, Chuan Teck has said that his income trend was stable, but its peak was in the 80s, when BKT was a big trend among locals.
While restaurant businesses are primarily affected by the pandemic, BKT has particularly taken a hit because it is a dish that customers would rather eat while eating.
As a result, Chuan Teck and the Seng Huat team have developed frozen BKT, which they cook to order, vacuum-packed and stored in the freezer before delivering to customers the next day.
“The frozen BKT pack is very easy and convenient to prepare because customers will just need to throw the whole pack in boiled water for 20 minutes and they can enjoy it,” he explained.
Business continuity by the next generation of family
Chuan Teck’s children have actually been helping the business from a young age and knowledgeable about the operations, he explained.
“I will not force or pressure my children to take over the business because I do not want to limit their future. But if any of them were interested in taking over the business, I’d be more than happy to pass it on, ”Chuan Teck told Vulcan Post.
However, he also shared that it has become a “natural instinct” for his children to help out in the restaurant and that they understand the importance of keeping this business traditional, which sounds encouraging to fans who would like to see this in. another generation.
- You can read more about Seng Huat BKT here.
- You can read more F&B articles than we’ve written here.
Featured Image Credit: Seng Huat BKT
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