10 Nov Aunty Franklee, Melbourne CBD
You don’t see bak kut teh in restaurants very often here, but Sugarbun has been happily pumping out claypots of the pork-based herbal soup for the last three years. Twins Francesca and Fiorn Lee are still the owners of its reincarnation, Aunty Franklee, which features fresh wallpaper and a new menu. Their signature bak kut teh is still, of course, on the menu.
The interesting drinks selection includes lemon barley and borneo milk tea. Most of us try the sweet but refreshing Pear and White Wood drink with goji berries, longan, dates, black and white fungus and a large segment of pear floating inside.
The soupy, and also the less common dry variety of bak kut teh, are as good as ever. It’s a Hokkien and Teochew dish most often found in Malaysia and Singapore. The strong herbal flavour of the soupy version may not be to everyone’s taste, but coming from a Hokkien-Malaysian background, the broth brings me memories of winter days being warmed up by bowls of rice soaked in soup, pork spare ribs and shiitake mushrooms. Chinese doughnuts are usually enjoyed alongside bak kut teh; we order some to soak in some of the tasty liquid. The dry bak kut teh still has the punchy, caramelised flavours we remember from Sugarbun, and is still my preferred option of the two.
The soft shell crab gado gado salad is a little light on the crab and too heavy with the peanut sauce, though this is forgotten once we tuck into the grilled meats. All the meats are stewed in 23 different herbs and spices before being chargrilled. We sample the beef and lamb ribs, which are all tasty, but I particularly love the crispy-skinned and juicy turmeric chicken.
Perhaps surprisingly, the table’s favourite was the Mother Hen Soup. A simple concoction of mixed grain rice and a tea egg, swimming in a chicken and mushroom broth, it’s comforting and flavoursome, and the herbs are not as full-on as the soupy bak kut teh.
Not only does Aunty Franklee have good bak kut teh, but you can get it in your belly as late as 4am in the morning.
Disclaimer: I was invited to Aunty Franklee as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own, and are based on my experience at the time
205-207 Russell St
Melbourne CBD, VIC, 3000
(03) 9650 4336