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  • Song Fa is a Singaporean chain that specializes in Bak Kut Teh, a complex pork rib soup that has roots, I believe, in the Chinese communities in that country and Malaysia. At Song Fa they do versions with various parts of the pig, the classic being the ribs. They also serve up the broth as the basis of a bowl of noodles. Any of these will set you back somewhere between RMB 55 and RMB 70.

    The broth is soothing, rich, and delicious, packing all the richness that comes from having gotten to know the bones of a pig very well. It also packs a massive whack of pepper that startles on the first sip but really cuts through that aforementioned richness. It’s really well done. If you’re a couple, you can split a couple of soup dishes with some sides. The fried tofu, pictured, is particularly tasty. The broth tastes great spooned over a bowl of rice, too.

    What takes it over the finishing line is that they do free refills of that soup. Whether you’ve ordered the pork rib soup or just a bowl of noodles, the wait staff are constantly circling with hot kettles of the stuff ready to be added to your bowl. I get excited about free refills of anything. When it’s delicious pork rib soup, then I’m guaranteed to be almost inappropriately pleased.

    Atmosphere is – mall. Not what you come for. Service is great.

    Food-wise, there are some quibbles. The meat clearly hasn’t spent quite the ideal time cooking – it tastes great and is tender enough but doesn’t fall off the bone the way you would hope. Also, when I asked a Singaporean friend about Song Fa she said that they’re a respected chain, but also mentioned some elements – mostly tasty-sounding condiments – that I didn’t see at this Shanghai outpost. Those are minor issues to me though. All in all, it’s a great place to get a well-priced, very soothing meal in this part of town.

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SmartReviews is SmartShanghai’s crack squad of amateur reviewers, eating their way around the city and writing about it. They have been chosen from a large pool of applicants and given a set of strict guidelines to follow to make sure their reviews are honest, informed and fair to both potential customers and the restaurants themselves.

  • British

    Michael Russam, from Leeds, England, first arrived in China to live in Wuhan, before coming to Shanghai to work in copywriting and marketing. He is particularly interested in regional Asian cuisines, and when he can, travelling to find them. Other hobbies include debating the merits of Shanghai dive bars and burger deals.
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