Klang bak kut teh is a soup-based dish that has been recognized as a geographical indication (GI) by Perbadanan Harta Intelek Malaysia (MyIPO), an agency under the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Costs of Living (KPDN). This means that Klang bak kut teh has a special connection to Klang city, where it originated and developed its distinctive flavour and reputation.
But what is geographical indication?
According to MyIPO, a geographical indication is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and a reputation that are due to that origin. For example, Darjeeling tea is a geographical indication for tea grown in the Darjeeling region of India, which has a unique aroma and taste. Similarly, Yantai apple is a geographical indication for apples grown in the Yantai region of China, which are known for their crispness and sweetness. Other examples of geographical indications are Gruyere cheese from Switzerland, asam pedas Melaka and Sarawak pepper.
Klang bak kut teh is the first geographical indication that originates from Selangor to be recognized by MyIPO. This is a great achievement for the local bak kut teh industry and culture, as it showcases the rich heritage and diversity of Malaysian cuisine. The geographical indication was initiated by the Klang Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCCI).
Henry Golding said that his choice of Malaysia food for diplomacy is bak kut teh and he emphasized the Klang version. "Klang's has broth that's been brewing for generations [...] If it stops boiling, it'll grow this thickness of fur and bacteria. But, it's delicious!"
In Hokkien, bak kut teh means meat-bone tea. There are many bak kut teh sellers in the market. The original bak kut teh is served in a bowl without chilis, youtiao or vegetables. These are considered accompaniments in modern bak kut teh. Even soup refills are not provided by original bak kut teh sellers.
@dennisboonlengtan Klang bak kut teh recognized as a geographical indication. #klang #bakkutteh #geographicalindication ♬ Gong Xi Fa Cai - Lux-Inspira
Modern bak kut teh sellers are serving the dish with chilli padi, mushrooms and tofu pok. Specialty bak but teh sellers can be found in most Malaysia cities. Teluk Pulai, the introducer of claypot and soup refillls is probably the most common version available. Three bak kut teh sellers are recognized in the Michelin Guide.
Bak kut teh is recognized as a noun in Oxford English Dictionary. Other Malaysian English terms recognized are bak kwa, char kway teow, chicken rice, kopitiam, laksa, mamak, sotong and teh tarik.