Founder Rou Gu Cha Cafeteria “發起人肉骨茶” have been serving aromatic “Rou Gu Cha，肉骨茶” (also known as Bak Kut Teh in the Hokkien/Teochew dialect) for over 40 years, Founder Rou Gu Cha Cafeteria has established a reputation as one of the best Rou Gu Cha in Singapore.
The customers come first and foremost for the Bak Kut Teh, and hail from all over Singapore as well as the regional countries (Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, etc.). The multitude of celebrity photographs that fill the walls of the eatery and the crowds that throng the restaurant during its opening hours are proof of Founder Rou Gu Cha’s appeal and the authenticity of the food served.
The secret to the quality of Founder’s Bak Kut Teh is in the insistence of its founder, in using only the freshest meaty pork ribs, simmered in a specially formulated broth of herbs and spices. In fact, Founder’s broth is created using a recipe created by Mr. Chua himself and perfected over many years of serving the wonderfully peppery dish. Hence, the naming of the business as “Founder Rou Gu Cha”.
The flagship outlet is located in Balestier (operated by Mr. Chua’s son). By embarking on franchising, the Company aims to bring the Founder Rou Gu Cha dining experience closer to its loyal customers as well as new fans in various countries throughout Southeast Asia and beyond.
Mr. Chua, 67, was a pig farmer in Seletar – one of the last of a dying breed – who enjoyed patronizing bak kut teh stalls. He tried many places but felt that most of them were lacking in quality, mainly due to poor raw ingredients. Therefore, out of interest and passion; he decided to prepare the dish from scratch by using the pigs he owns.
Mr. Chua was born in the north-western part of Singapore located in the Choa Chu Kang area, and he felt comfortable testing his recipes out on friends from the old neighborhood. His recipes were self-taught, so he called himself Founder. By the late 1970s, he had started a small shop there, and business was good. Later, government redevelopment meant he had to move from Choa Chu Kang, and he also had to give up his farm.
By 1988, he had reinvented himself as a full-time restaurateur. Meat from seven-month-old pigs is the best for pork rib soup, says Mr. Chua, whose father was also a pig farmer from Fujian province. If the animals are slaughtered too young, the meat is less tasty; too old, and the color of the meat will be a little too dark, he says. He is also adamant that drinking tea before consuming bak kut teh enhances the flavor of the soup. Not surprisingly, the pork ribs at Founder are tasty, if a little less tender than at other places, while the soup is clear and light, sweet and less peppery. Mr. Chua is still a permanent fixture at Founder, which he runs with son Chua Cheah Koon. The pork rib soup business is rewarding but hard work, says Mr. Chua. “As a pig farmer, I had more free time in the evenings – with bak kut teh the hours are a lot longer.